You probably thought you were done hearing about SB2279 – the so called anti-discrimination bill – for a little while.
Well, not just yet.
I finally got around to watching the video footage of all of the speeches given prior to the SB2279 House vote.
If you look below you can see the video of different representatives speaking about SB2279.
The debate starts out plainly enough. Rep Mock (Minority Leader, D-Grand Forks) wants the bill split in half, so that each half can be considered (and voted upon) separately. The bill carrier, Weisz (R-Hurdsfield) gave his account of the committee’s recommendation (DO NOT PASS), and explained that he thought it was strange that amendments were being proposed that had the law apply in some situations but not others.
Here’s where the fun starts.
Rep Oversen (D-Grand Forks) rises to “clarify” the committee proceedings. She explains that concessions were made to appease religious business owners. She makes it apparent that she believes, and supporters of SB2279 also believe, that business owners should be forced to violate their religious convictions, but the amendments to SB2279 were suggested to “appease” them.
Rep Carlson (Majority Leader, R-Fargo), Mock, and Weisz go back and forth on Division A, which ultimately fails.
Mock then starts on Division B – the remainder of SB2279.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]It’s damn peculiar when you have 4 democrats telling the legislature what Jesus thinks about a housing discrimination bill.[/mks_pullquote]
Weisz rises again and gives a principled speech about discrimination, the rights of conscience, and that, during more than 5 hours of testimony, not a single instance of termination nor eviction due to sexual orientation was uncovered.
Next, Rep Mooney (D-Cummings) gets up. She quotes LBJ. She says that throughout history, personal liberty and religious convictions have been a large part of discrimination, and those individual rights shouldn’t supersede the rights of other people. She doesn’t explain why that is, or what rights those other people have. This had me scratching my head.
Rep Beadle (R-Fargo) gets up and quotes Goldwater. Goldwater was an early advocate of requiring that the government treat gay people fairly and equally. But Goldwater, you may recall, did not support using government to outlaw private discrimination – that’s why he opposed the final version of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as I mentioned in my last article.
Rep Beadle has decided to cherry pick Goldwater’s positions, and has glossed over the important point about discrimination: the distinction between government and private action.
There are more speeches, but I’ll skip to the bizarre stuff.
Rep Hogan (D-Fargo) rises. She says this bill “is about Justice”. She says that, with this bill, “we must say discrimination is wrong”.
Then, surprisingly, her speech then takes a religious turn. She claims to be catholic, and refers to catholic catechism. She goes on to quote Pope Francis, and attempts to tell a story about Jesus.
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I just heard an urban democrat quoting the Bible in a discussion about public policy.
Next, Rep Oversen (D-Grand Forks), identity-politics-Barbie rises again.
This time, we get a real lesson. She starts by reminding us of where we are on the Christian calendar. She refers to a commandment Jesus gave to disciples during the last supper. She goes on and on about Jesus and how he showed his love. She claims that Jesus did not treat anyone differently on any occasion. She explains that this bill is an extension of Jesus’s great love. She concludes that people of faith are not called to discriminate or treat people differently.
It’s an astounding speech. As far as theological disasters go, it’s probably about a 7.0 on the Richter scale — but what’s more astounding is that the Democratic State Party Chair unleashed this quagmire of Biblical sprinkles on the state legislature. On video.
This is not some blowhard Republican telling us in a vague and non-threatening way how important faith is in his private life. This is the head of the state democratic party telling us we must pass a law because Jesus would want us to.
The next supporter to speak is Rep Mock (D-Grand Forks). He makes an opening reference to Easter Weekend. He talks about how his Catholic wife helped him write one of his first speeches six years ago. He claims that no faith believes discrimination is right.
He goes on to tell a story about a father and son having a conversation. The takeaway from that conversation is “When I follow Jesus, I follow the example of his love”
Again, he closes by claiming that the bill sends a message – a message that says discrimination will not be tolerated.
This is actually hilarious. Now we have a 3rd democrat in a row telling us what Jesus said and what he meant. Ironically, the claim being made is one of a universally accepting Jesus, but the language Mock closes his speech with specifically says that some ideas and acts “will not be tolerated”.
So, apparently, everyone should vote like Mock’s idea of Jesus – a guy who is tolerant – except on this issue, where Mock openly advocates zero tolerance.
[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]It’s an astounding speech. As far as theological disasters go, it’s probably about a 7.0 on the Richter scale — but what’s more astounding is that the Democratic State Party Chair unleashed this quagmire of Biblical sprinkles on the state legislature. On video.[/mks_pullquote]
Next up, Rep Schneider (D-Fargo). Schneider is from a family of career politicians and is a lawyer, so she opens by saying she won’t focus on the legal issues in the bill, and instead, tries to make a faith based argument. She says “I am from the faith that preaches tolerance and love and acceptance.”
However, she quickly changes her tune. These are quotes from later in her speech:
“We can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way. That’s what we have to do about some people who’s hearts and minds are never going to change”
A faith of tolerance indeed! If some people won’t change their minds, well, she’ll take care of that!
Rep Carlson (R-Fargo) casually mentions that in all of the talk of Jesus and emotional letters from parents and gay children who don’t feel safe in North Dakota, people forgot to actually talk about the bill.
Carlson goes on to say that he was appreciative to the references to scripture, but points out that it was a bit cherry picked. He further points out that in the legislature, they’re not there to debate what Jesus said.
Carlson’s attempt to rein in the crazy was ineffective, because right after he sat down, Rep Boschee gets up again and makes this claim – “I don’t know one religion that says it’s ok to discriminate.”
Finally, after 5 straight supporters of SB2279 bloviate about faith, religion, and Jesus, Rep Olson (R-West Fargo) stands up and gives a fantastic two part speech. You should watch his video because he nails it. He talks about the legal objections to the bill, and because other people brought it up, he talks about the intersection between theology and public policy.
An interesting point that Olson reminds us of is that the same democratic party who’s voices who were claiming to know what Christians believe, what Jesus taught, or what every faith does or does not teach, are usually reliable reminders of the fact that we are supposed to have a separation of church and state in this country.
In the floor speeches for SB2279, these democrats are strangely out of place, trying to advocate using state power to force people to behave in accordance with (their conception) of religious morality!
Olson reminds us:
“It’s not the job of the state to impose Christian values or Christian morality on those who are not willing”.
The bottom line is this: It’s damn peculiar when you have 4 democrats telling the legislature what Jesus thinks about a housing discrimination bill.
And, as the vote shows, not at all convincing.
Here’s the full video of the House floor debate on SB2279: