That bill would have prohibited discrimination against homosexuals for jobs, housing, and commerce.
During a part of her address where she was stressing the need to create and maintain a skilled workforce, Heitkamp said “We can’t be seen as a state that discriminates.” No doubt an allusion to the promised boycotts of North Dakota and other states from activists both here in the state and nationally.
The problem, of course, is that to pass the legislation liberals like Heitkamp want we must create a situation in the law where one group of people (say a gay couple getting married) can compel the unwilling service of another (perhaps a wedding photographer with strong religious convictions about homosexuality). Whatever our personal feelings about homosexuality, it’s hard to lump the conscription of cake bakers and wedding photographers under the umbrella of tolerance.
“I’m starting to wonder: who needs the protection here?” asked liberal columnist Kirsten Powers recently. She is talking about this exact issue. Powers is a staunch defender of gay rights, but wonders what we’re achieving by steamrolling conscientious objectors. “After decades of fighting for gay rights, those who should be guzzling the bubbly are muzzling the vanquished,” she writes.
Where liberals like Heitkamp see North Dakota sticking up for discrimination against gays, I see the state sticking up for the freedom of conscience.
On a related note, I dislike the tone Heitkamp and others elected to federal office before take when they’re address the state legislature. Perhaps it’s in keeping with Heitkamp’s big-government, left-wing view of the relationship between the states and the federal government but one almost got the feeling that she was addressing a chamber of inferiors.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Our Senators are supposed to represent the state at the federal government. While the 17th amendment may have moved Senators from people appointed by the state governments to people elected popularly by the people, who the Senators ultimately serve has not changed.
Heitkamp shouldn’t be looking down her nose at the lawmakers.