Struggling mightily to balance the religious freedom of homophobes and the civil rights of gays, Colorado Republicans in the Legislature are clearly siding with bigots.
Don’t even start with whatever version of “some-of-my-best-friends-are-gay” tactical myth GOP defenders are trotting out these days. Real people are really getting hurt by misguided Republican state lawmakers backing a host of anti-gay bills.
For those who pooh-pooh and doubt that a bevy of Republican leaders in the state Senate either champion bigotry or strategically look the other way, look at House Bills 1256, 1245, and Senate Bill 241, all given the gay-diss by Republican lawmakers in the state Senate. These bills would take every voting Republican to move them out of the upper house because they have only a one-vote majority there.
HB 1256: Colorado Civil Rights Commission
This anti-gay maneuver by Senate Republicans is the worst so far this year because it’s so new, so sneaky and so dangerous for the civil rights of not just gays, but everyone in the state.
The controversy came to the Legislature this year over the same Civil Rights Commission that punished infamous anti-gay Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips for refusing to sell a wedding cake to two gay men in 2012.
Like dozens of state agencies and programs, the Civil Rights Commission periodically comes up for “sunset review.” It was up for inspection this year. It’s a process that is generally little more than formality.
Not this year. Anxious to strike back at the panel for making Phillips take classes in how to be a grown-up, Senate Republicans created a ruse about not funding it until a “thorough” review was completed. They got outed for that lie, and then tried others. Most recently, Republican state Sen. Bob Gardner — from where-else but Garden of the God’s Army in Colorado Springs — tried to amend the measure so that he could pack the commission with mostly white male lawyers, who we all know are better than anyone at understanding minority rights.
Rather than just come out and admit that Senate Republicans are cool with letting businesses discriminate against queer couples, they lied. The truth is that as long as a the religious leaders of cake-bakers, hotel desk clerks or restaurant managers tell them Jesus tells them so, Senate Republicans, possibly all of them, say that gays can drink from that water fountain, but not this one.
Undeterred by overwhelming public opinion, except for hot-pockets of Christian love in Colorado Springs, Senate Republicans continue to try and sneak some straight-out gay-hate into Civil Rights Commission reform.
SB 241: Anti-gay adoption agency rights
This tired idea wins big in states like Texas. This ain’t Texas, folks. Also focusing on the love of Jesus and orphaned children, Senate Republicans on a State Affairs panel voted to approve a measure that would allow adoption agencies to tell queer couples offering up their home for foster children or adoption, “oh hell, no way, no how.”
The bill would allow for discrimination by saying that if a religious-based adoption or foster agency equates homosexual marriage with eternal damnation, or even seven years bad luck, they could tell queer prospective parents: “go fish.”
Republicans say the bill is needed because there could be religious adoption agencies at risk of shutting down because they’d rather do that than place children in qualified, loving and desperately needed households.
This is an easy one. Shut them down. Children are not religious commodities, and queer households are no better nor worse to raise a kid than any other. Imagine an adoption agency that refused to consider a prospective family because they’re Italian, black, short, left-handed, or came from Colorado Springs.
HB 1245: Banning gay-child brainwashing
This is the worst of the worst. Back by unpopular demand among Colorado Springs area homophobes, this bill, killed by Republicans in the state Senate, would ensure that parents don’t have the right to take their queer kids to a unqualified quack in an attempt to brainwash them into being straight.
The brainwashing ban has been beaten down by Republicans for years now, and they annually hammer it like a late-winter ill-wind.
Set aside the fact that every single reputable medical and psychological society in the country rails hard against this dangerous quackery. All of them. Set aside the fact that an endless list of real experts say subjecting children to this malpractical voodoo can do real and permanent psychological damage to the victims. Look at what the measure focuses on.
This bill, and its backers, says parents have the right to say that being a homosexual is sick, and they have the right to “cure” their children of it — for religious reasons.
Society and the courts have long agreed that when parents endanger their children’s lives for religious reasons, the community gets to step in.
We don’t allow the children of Jehovah Witnesses to die in this country for want of a blood transfusion. It’s because we know the lives of children matter more than mythology, no matter how passionately a parent believes it.
Senate Republicans simply haven’t got the memo that it’s no cooler to be straight than it is to be gay in the minds of medical experts and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Colorado doesn’t need these vicious, dangerous and misguided bills. Senate Republicans don’t need them either. They need a reality check, or a new line of work.
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