Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Degrees of Enlightenment

Michael, who has just returned from France, informs us that Illinois passed a gay rights bill while he was away. This was much needed good news as some of us living in a 'state of moral values, spent last Friday morning testifying in opposition to this because it isn't enough for some of these bigots that this is already on the books.

While the testimony did sway some votes (it ended up 5 to 4 to pass from committee to full senate - it started out strictly partisan 8 to 2 so 2 Repugnicans came on board) it was insufficient to derail the bill at the committee level. Since it's a constitutional amendment and requires 2/3 to pass in the senate, we need 5 Repugnicans to join the 7 Dems in order to quash it. It looks as though we have them ... just. So, cross your fingers because it's a no brainer (and I mean that literally) that it will pass on the house side.

Pro testimony was (of course) all emotion no fact fearmongering. One lovely little Mormon housewife testified that she's sorry about the intolerance (of gays) but you know lesbians are intolerant too. The ones that she used to live next to in Oregon were always asking her if she didn't know what birth control was or if she just hadn't figured out yet what caused pregnancy. She didn't mention how she determined these individuals were lesbian or why she thought their comments were related to their sexual preferences but yep it's certainly on par with anti-gay discrimination.

Still others talked about 'studies' (though of course cited none) regarding deviant behavior, unstable relationships or high suicide rates. Gee, do you think that suicide rates might have something to do with the level of societal acceptance as it does with heterosexuals - it was depressing.

I, of course, called the bill for what it was - representing nothing more than fear, loathing and baseless bigotry. For if the authors goals were genuinely meant to strengthen the state of marriage/family where was the bill to create a liveable wage (ID ranks 43rd in personal income level), or the bill to provide healthcare for the working poor (~18.3% are without healthcare) yada yada -that as their bill didn't address any root causes of the problems, it would achieve nothing.

One bright spot came when two young girls, one a junior in high school and the other in junior high, testified. They talked about how intolerant their peers were, about different ways in which they experienced intolerance from their choice of music to the clothes they wore, etc. All simply framed and seemingly innocuous and then they hit the punchline -can we expect our citizens to display tolerance when our legislators dictate intolerance? I'd like to think the narrowminded bigotry is being watered down and that there's hope for the future generations here but I suspect we'd have heard the same from the parents of these girls.

I'll let you know what happens with the senate but if this thing makes it on the ballot ... oy.

UPDATE: Down in flames, with 2 votes to spare!

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