The legislative agenda is full of proposals to add to discrimination already embedded in Arkansas law against LGBT people. Occasionally, the sponsors will insist such legislation doesn’t arise from discriminatory intent, but to avoid confusion in law or something.
Happily, to puncture this sophistry, we have the influential Religious Right lobby, the Family Council, an affiliate of an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has branded a hate group for its virulent views of sexual minorities.
The Family Council makes it clear where it comes from when it comes to LGBT people. It openly advocates legal discrimination. Take this legislative alert today, with instructions for “troubling” legislation to oppose:
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H.B. 1797 by Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville) adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993.
Why This Bill is Troubling: The Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993 is designed to prohibit discrimination on the basis of things like race, sex, or religion. H.B. 1797 adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes contained in the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993. This could harm people of faith, churches, and others who have objections to homosexual and transgender behavior or same-sex marriage.
Get it? It would harm Jerry Cox and his ilk if a gay person could not be discriminated against in employment, housing or public accommodation.
H.B. 2088 by Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville) provides enhanced penalties for a criminal offense committed because of the victim’s race, color, religion, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.
Why This Bill is Troubling: Traditionally, laws enhancing penalties for certain crimes focus on a victim’s physical vulnerability or on the nature of the crime. That’s why penalties are often enhanced for crimes against children, the elderly, or the disabled, and that’s why penalties are often enhanced for particularly heinous crimes.
However, laws enhancing the penalties for crimes committed because of a person’s identity or status provide special protections for some people, but not for others. Additionally, they may be used by activists—such as homosexual or transgender activists—to advance a political agenda.
Got it? If people got punished extra for hate crimes, it might protect and/or help gay people.
S.B. 580 by Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) deals with presumption of parentage in cases of surrogacy and artificial insemination. It effectively upends a good ruling the Arkansas Supreme Court issued last December regarding an effort to list two “mothers” on birth certificates.
Why This Bill is Troubling: As the Arkansas Supreme Court essentially noted, no child has two “mothers.” Children have a mother and a father. Birth certificates exist to record that a child was born and who the child’s parents are—and they can already be amended in cases of adoption. Birth certificates are not simply pieces of paper. They are vital records that need to be accurate and deserve respect. We should be careful not to let them become political ploys.
Got it? Biology counts only against the queers. Not against heterosexual couples who use sperm and egg donations for pregnancy. They automatically get to be birth certificate parents.
The desire to discriminate is, at least, clear. Remember it the next time some mealy-mouthed legislator tries to tell you opposition to equality isn’t about discrimination. For them, quote AFL-CIO leader Bill Becker’s famous rejoinder to then-Gov. Bill Clinton when he tried to explain breaking a legislative promise to Becker: “Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”