Rep. Bateman may have extended his heartfelt sympathies but he did not extend his vote — why?
A committee in the Idaho house killed a bill that would protect the LGBT community from discrimination but one lawmaker seemed genuinely upset about the fate of the bill. The bill dubbed “Add the Words” would have added the term “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to existing legislature that bans discrimination against race, sex, color, religion and national origin. The new legislature lost on a party line vote 13-4 with the Democrats in favor.
Republican Rep. Linden Bateman was incredibly moved by the stories presented to the committee about discrimination and struggles members of the LGBT community have faced throughout their lives.
Rep. Bateman said:
My heart has been touched by this hearing. I’ve gotten to know you, and I know from this point on — forever — I will be kinder and I will be more compassionate to those who bear a heavy burden.
The bill was killed by the republican lawmakers because it ran the risk of infringing on religious beliefs. Religious beliefs are often pitted against LGBT anti-discrimination bills because the Christian community overwhelmingly believes their imaginary friend hates homosexuals which gives them the right to treat this class of people unequally in a country founded on equality and freedom. Makes sense, right?
But Bateman also cited another passage in the Bible that essentially destroys the religious “rights” part of the argument:
Somewhere in scripture it says that if we are not kind to the needy, and to the lonely, and to the afflicted, and to those who bear a heavy burden, our prayers will not be answered.
I will be kinder, and I will be more compassionate. While I will support the original motion [to block the bill], I’d like to go on record that I will support a compromise.
While I would love to believe that a compromise would be in the LGBT community’s best interest, it will undoubtedly contain a rider that would contain a religious exemption to allow the religious community to continue to discriminate against homosexuals — that seems to be the “compromise” many republican heavy states are trying to make. This leaves a lot of room for continued discrimination even if a bill is passed outlawing discrimination against the LGBT community because any gay-hating shmoe can claim religious grounds for their bigotry.
For example, in Utah, the Mormon community has come out in support of LGBT rights so long as religious beliefs are also preserved. In short, religious groups still want to uphold their right to discriminate against LGBT people in the non-secular arena and in the public arena. Arizona also tried to pass similar legislature but the former Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill in 2014.
Discrimination is NOT a religious right. While discrimination in the non-secular arena has its grounds for protection (no gay marriage in churches, rejection of homosexual church members and staff), the secular world should not be allow discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity on religious grounds. An employer, business or landlord should not have the religious “right” to deny service, employment, or housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity alone.
The right to discriminate should not be a compromise, it should be fully rejected. Hopefully, Rep. Bateman understood that important fact when he looked into the faces of the LGBT community asking for his help and his being near tears meant that he would face issues for the LGBT community with real compassion. Hopefully.
Watch the video: