Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tolerance is, of course, still the word of the day

In November 2004, 57 percent of Oregon voters decided that traditional marriage was important enough to protect it in their constitution. Now some state lawmakers want to undermine the will of the people and force same-sex marriage onto Oregonians.

SB 1000 has already passed in the Senate, and if it is approved by the House, it would give homosexual couples the same legal status and benefits of married couples.

But that's not all this bill would do. It also adds sexual orientation to the state's discrimination laws, placing sexual orientation alongside race and religion.

In closed meetings, the Senate Rules Committee, along with other legislators and the ACLU, drafted SB 1000 to assert that churches, religious organizations and religious institutions cannot discriminate against homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender persons and cross-dressers when hiring to positions which the state will determine are not "closely connected with or related to the primary purposes of the church."

According to Stronger Families of Oregon, "In the final review, religious institutions and their representatives were excluded from participating in the work session process considering these amendments."

Despite consistent vitriolic rhetoric from the ACLU towards keeping church and state separate, this bill gives the state the authority to decide which positions in your church are essential and therefore exempt from hiring homosexuals, bisexuals and cross-dressers.

A hidden economic impact for all businesses is that they would have to bestow the same benefits given to married couples to same sex couples as well. This bill effectively creates new "classes" of specially-protected people solely based on behavioral choices, and as has been seen in other states, the economic costs to the state in discrimination lawsuits is huge.

This attempt by the Oregon Legislature to legalize civil unions is a slap in the face to Oregon citizens who voted in November to protect traditional marriage.

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