Friday, January 27, 2006

Live State Senate Blogging

RIGHT NOW the Washington State Senate is discussing HB 2661, which would forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation in public and private organizations.

I'm paraphrasing the main points... I missed the first Senator who spoke on behalf of of the Bill. I'll offer some analysis later.

Sen. Dan Swecker (R)
  • Bill would intrude upon rights private businesses (might be fine in public institutions).
  • Would be used by the State Supreme Court to allow gay marriage.
  • Creates enormous opportunity for lawyers.
  • State could create "pro-homosexual" program in Washington State schools; this is an endorsement and promotion of homosexuality.
Sen. Marilyn Rasmussen (D)
  • Amendment on the bill states it will not endorse gay marriage or any "practice, behavior, or orientation" so this will not affect the court in that manner. Will not lead to the dissolution of the DOMA.
  • God would not support discrimination; will vote for the legislation
Sen. Bob Oke (R)
  • Because he is religious, he cannot support the bill. Homosexuality is an abomination to God -the Bible is clear.
  • Bill is an attempt "legitimize and normalize" homosexuality
  • "Having a child who chooses to be homosexual can be very very painful" - he has a daughter who has "chosen" to be homosexual. She has been trying to change him and he has been trying to change her. Didn't let her bring he partner - "tough love.
Sen. Rosa Franklin (D)
  • Christians are not just in one party - lives her faith every day
  • As an African-American woman who has experienced discrimination, she cannot allow discrimination against anyone.
  • Minority must be protected or the majority will "almost always" trample on their rights.
  • This bill simply extends human rights protection to a group of people who contribute to society and should have the same rights as everyone else.
  • Not "special privileges" just offering the same civil rights in housing and employment. Rights to a group that has been treated "very badly"
Sen. Joyce Mulliken (R)
  • All people are equal in eyes God; deserving of human dignity.
  • This bill is about extending the definition of a special class of people, not human dignity. Age, gender, race, physical disabilities, economic and social status are important to include, but "sexual orientation" has many subgroups.
  • Would tell HRC to educate, advocate, and promote sexual orientation.
  • Kindergarten education for Spring, 2006 included sexual orientation in cultural awareness/promotion of a lifestyle that isn't preferred by those who live it [Edit: WHAT??]. Sister lives as a lesbian - doesn't think her sister has not been discriminated against because of her lifestyle, so bill must only be to promote a lifestyle.
Sen. Pat Thibaudeau (D)
  • Four legislators have been very successful. Are deserving of respect.
  • Support bill.
Sen. Val Stevens (R)
  • Sad day for the State of Washington because the bill will pass.
  • The wording regarding DOMA will be deemed meaningless. We need something in the state constitution to protect marriage as being between 1 man and 1 woman. Only 1/3 in state support gay marriage and ony 14% feel strongly about it.
Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D)
  • Remarks from Eleanor Roosevelt (Universal human rights begin close to home)
Sen. Bill Finkbeiner (R)
  • Law exempts small businesses; constitution forbids religious discrimination anyway; marriage is in the courts - this bill doesn't affect that.
  • The debate on the floor of the Senate isn't about what's in the bill, but about whether or not it's okay to be gay or homosexual in this state. Contrary to a previous speaker, the heart, not parents, choose who someone will love.
  • It is unacceptable to discriminate against people because of whom their heart chooses to love.
  • Neighbors, coworkers, family members are out there who may be gay and the message sent from the legislature is that their feelings are somehow wrong and that simply isn't true.
  • Once this bill passes, the world will continue to turn, our lives will go on as they have for most of us, but for some people their lives will improve.
Sen. Jospeh Zarelli (R)
  • Apparently it's okay to use religion for this bill but not okay to use religion against it.
  • Issue boils down to whether you choose the lifestyle or you're born with it. Science can't tell us, but the Legislature is deciding you must be born with it. Doesn't believe this is the case.
  • Shouldn't include as a protected class a group that makes a choice to behave in a particular way. If it were proven that you're born with it, he would support.
Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (D)
  • This isn't about promoting homosexuality in schools, it's about protecting those in schools who are homosexual. They have a right to an education free from discrimination. All students will be taught tolerance for all people.
Sen. Brian Weinstein (D)
  • Proud to join states that prohibit discrimination (listed states - there are a lot, both blue and red); hasn't torn any of the other states apart.
  • In the past legislators have voted to discriminate based on race and have apologized for it. Those who vote against this bill will be judged harshly [Interruption: Senator objects to impugning of motives of opponents].
  • Leading business and many religious leaders around the state support this bill. Suprme Court has said that what goes on behind closed doors is no one's business.
  • God would not make it a sin to be who you are; this is no "abomination"
Sen. Jim Hargrove (D)
  • Tolerance is a two-way street. Those who believe something is wrong will now be told that they are wrong. We shouldn't tell those who believe the lifestyle is wrong that we will now take it out on them.
Sen. Adam Kline (D)
  • Difficult for those whose religious belifs and family require a yes or no vote.
  • There is a necessity to pursue justice.
  • His religion requires him to vote yes, but he understands there are differences.
Sen. Paull Shin (D)
  • Religious views notwithstanding, legislators are there to pursue justice for all.
  • His prayers and scripture-reading have led him to where he is today.
  • As a child, was abandoned, discriminated against as a street child. In the U.S. he was still unwanted; subject to "whites only" signs while in military. Terrible feeling to be accepted or rejected because of who he is. Discrimination hurts.
  • God loves all, Jesus forgives all.
  • This bill talks about human rights and dignity, not marriage.
Sen. Brad Benson (R)
  • Bigotry, racism, prejudice (that leads to hate that leads to violence) is wrong. Republican Party was founded in fight against slavery. The Republican Party was key to passing the original civil rights act.
  • Legislation asks if certain individuals should receive special protection on broad definition.
  • Homosexuals don't meet 3 criteria set forth by the courts: economic deprivation, ..., immutable characteristics. Homosexuals often have better cars and houses than others.
  • Unwise to dilute previous civil rights legislation; can't be compared with laws based on race.
  • This bill goes beyond tolerance and "reasonable accomodation" (Transvestite tries to use women's dressing room - shouldn't be allowd to. He can try on the clothes, but must use men's dressing room).
  • 60% of state's voters, I-677, said no on including sexual orientation.
  • Unfair to label a person's morality as bigotry.
  • Opening a "Pandora's box" of uncertainty by passing this bill because this bill is based solely upon perception.
Sen. Lisa Brown (D)
  • In 1999, Spokane adopted an ordinance to include sexual orientation, but citizens of Spokane upheld it. No "Pandora's Box" has been opened. Life will go on pretty much the same for pretty much everyone in Washington State.
  • Sexual orientation isn't related to your job or buying a home, etc. If you want to condemn sexual orientation, you're free to do do.
  • Many people are afraid to come forward with their sexual orientation so we can't know how many people this will affect.
  • Called for civility and working together by the State Senate beyond today's vote.

HB 2661 PASSES THE STATE SENATE 25-23

4 comments:

Travis said...

Wow, I'm surprised to hear that gay people have better cars and houses than other people. I must have really missed the boat on that one. I wonder if Mr. Benson would be willing to provide me with both so that I can fulfill his closeminded stereotype of what it means to be gay...

srcastic said...

It is about time.

Great job paraphrasing the Senators' arguments - I've linked to your post. It is sad to think this legislation has been proposed every year for nearly 30 years, and that it is just passing today.

Kate said...

Didn't anyone tell you, Travis? Turns out you're straight after all! Sorry about the confusion.

Travis said...

Uh oh, don't tell my boyfriend that. He's in for a rude awakening...