Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In which I respond to Kathy Stein calling me a liar on the Senate floor

Isn't there some rule about calling someone a liar and misrepresenting the truth in doing it?

The Governor's veto of the Religious Freedom Act, HB 279, was overridden tonight by both chambers of the General Assembly. A number of interesting arguments were made by the opposition, among which were that it was a secret plot to overturn the 2004 Marriage Amendment (Kelly Flood), and that it would cost too much to defend (by the not-so-fiscally conservative Mary Lou Marzian).

Then there was Sen. Morgan McGarvey, who made what seemed to me a serious and well-intentioned attempt to address the legal issues, but got a few of them wrong anyway. It would have been good if he had taken these up at the committee meeting where they could have been discussed.

But perhaps the most interesting comment of the night (to me anyway) was when Kathy Stein took the Senate floor to oppose the veto override and accused me of "bearing false witness." That's King James English, folks, for lying.

Maybe we should just be glad that she's read the King James Bible.

In any case, she said the sponsor and supporters had claimed that the bill had nothing to do with local gay rights ordinances, but that I had "let my hand slip" (a metaphor in the same category as "that train has set sail") by admitting that it really was about gay rights ordinances: "He comes right out and says that this is about gay rights."

Stein then waved my March 21 press release in the air. There it was, in eleven point type, for everyone in the chamber to see.

What the press release in her hand actually said was that the opposition of gay rights groups to the Religious Freedom Act (not the bill itself) could doom gay rights ordinances because the opposition of these groups to the bill would be taken (I think rightly) as an indication that these ordinances would be used to threaten to religious freedom. Why else would a higher standard of religious freedom hamper these ordinances?

It also cited a case in Lexington in which a T-shirt company was charged with violating the city's gay rights ordinance because it refused to print a T-shirt for a gay rights event because it was in conflict with the owner's religious beliefs. But that is not a problem with the gay rights ordinance; it is a problem with the misapplication of the gay rights ordinance. The ordinance prohibits discrimination against gay persons. But the company didn't do that. It didn't have anything to do with a gay person. It had only to do with the message it was being asked to print.

That misuse of the ordinance was a violation of someone's religious freedom. In fact, it was gay rights groups who said these ordinances wouldn't threaten people's religious freedom--the same ones who are now persecuting the T-shirt company for the owner's religious beliefs.

What was that about bearing false witness?

If you roll the tape back, you will see very clearly that it was the ACLU and the Fairness Alliance who did their best to make this into a gay rights issue. It was these groups these groups who set up the religious freedom vs. gay rights dichotomy,  not me. They put religious people around the Commonwealth on notice that their freedoms could not be allowed to stand in the way of the Tolerance and Diversity agenda.

Again, the opponents of the bill did this through their own rhetoric: It had little to do with the bill. In fact, Sen. Stein did her best to contribute to this narrative. Then she goes and blames me for it?

My only contribution was to point out that, in pitting gay rights against religious freedom, they (not the bill) were threatening their cause.

So, Senator, tell me where I lied. Maybe you just made a mistake--and let your hand slip.

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