Friday, June 27, 2008
'Religion in private' OK, declares ACLU:New limits on Christians leave family groups reeling
Colorado's new state law that critics say criminalizes expressing biblical beliefs regarding homosexuality is scaring residents who fear their overheard statements could be used to put them in jail.WND reported the law, SB200, which was promoted as an "anti-discrimination" plan favoring alternative sexual lifestyles and gender perceptions, has made it a criminal offense to discriminate against someone based on those lifestyles or perceptions.The Christian publishing house Focus on the Family has called it a payback by the Democrat-controlled legislature and Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter((picture left)) to homosexual activists such as millionaire Tim Gill, who has donated widely to pro-homosexual political candidates.The Focus analysis of the plan, according to spokesman Bruce Hausknecht, shows that besides the obvious impacts of opening restrooms and locker rooms statewide to members of either sex, depending on a perception of their gender, "the biggest danger this law poses is to the religious or moral consciences of small business owners who may object to doing business with people whose lifestyle they do not want to promote.""Who would have believed that the Colorado state legislature and its governor would have made it fully legal for men to enter and use women's restrooms and locker-room facilities without notice or explanation?" Focus founder James Dobson said. "Henceforth, every woman and little girl will have to fear that a predator, bisexual, cross-dresser or even a homosexual or heterosexual male might walk in and relieve himself in their presence."Other groups also have issued warnings. Colorado Family Action wrote of the plan: "This bill lays groundwork for state-sanctioned abuse of individuals and organizations who have faithfully held religious convictions and refuse to offer or sell goods or services to homosexuals, bisexuals, transgendered, or transsexual individuals because of such beliefs."This desire to limit the constitutionally guaranteed right to the 'free exercise of religion' can be seen in Cathryn Hazouri's, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, testimony given before the Colorado House Judiciary Committee," the group said."One may practice one's religion in private; however, once a religious person comes into the public arena, there are limitations in how the expression of their religion impacts others," she had said.Individual residents also now are beginning to realize the potential of the new law, which was approved by the legislature with a declaration that it is needed for "public safety," so it is not subject to any vote of the people."Now, as I stand outside of a movie theater bathroom or a swimming pool shower room door and guard the most precious thing in my life: my wife and daughter's safety, modesty and privacy, I can no longer stop a man from entering a woman's domain," wrote a concern resident whose name was withheld. "(I will anyway, that's why I'm a criminal!)""An act that once was criminal is now legitimate, and what was taught to me as a virtue is now a vice. Not only am I liable for civil penalties but criminal, as I can be sentenced for up to a year in jail," he wrote."I immediately contacted my state representative, Wes McKinley, to ask him what his stand was on this bill. He proudly told me he supported it. I brought to his attention the recent case in New Mexico that was in national news. A photographer refused to photograph a lesbian ceremony. The lesbian couple found another photographer who would and then turned around and sued the Christian photographer for refusing. They won the suit and the photographer was fined over $6,000.00. I asked Rep. McKinley if he thought this was right. He told me no and assured me that wouldn't happen with this bill," the resident wrote."I then contacted my attorney who told me that SB200 does, indeed, open the door to this kind of litigation, and that I would have to be careful to not express my convictions in public in this kind of situation," he wrote.He also reacted to Hazouri's comments, which were unchallenged by the state legislature.She said, "You give up some of your rights when you go into the public square," the resident said. "Wow, I didn't know that. I was taught in school that these rights of free speech were 'unalienable.' Apparently, gay rights trump heterosexual rights, as well as the First Amendment.""So, as long as I keep my convictions to myself and only express them in my home or church, I'm legal. Somehow, I don't think this is what the Bill of Rights meant," he said."Will SB200 be the end of it? No. Next, hate crime legislation must be passed so that it is illegal for me to write this letter (as it is now illegal in Canada); then enforced homosexual/transsexual indoctrination of our children in the public educational system; finally, all other alternative forms of education must be outlawed. Impossible, you say? It's already happened in California," he said. "As I'm being forced into this 'shotgun wedding' with the radical homosexual agenda, I hope it's not too late to 'speak now, or forever hold my peace.' What is it called when you are forced, against your will, to participate in a sexual lifestyle that you find objectionable? I believe that is called 'rape.' My state legislature has 'violated' me and charged me with the crime."Tom Minnery, the senior vice president of government and public policy for Focus, told the Denver Post there are "multiple problems" with the plan, "but the problem of restrooms is the most breathtaking one...With SB200, however, we no longer have two 'sexes,' we enter a brave new world with a myriad of 'sexual orientations' that must not be discriminated against, upon pain of the substantial civil and criminal penalties contained in the bill."Woe to the first women's fitness facility or mall owner who objects to a man dressed as a woman who wants to enter previously forbidden territory. And what an opportunity for sexual predators," he wrote.He said every Christian, Jewish or Muslim business owner now is under a threat."We've seen … charges brought by homosexuals against a video reproduction business in Virginia, a medical clinic in California, an adoption service in Arizona and a church in New Jersey," he continued. "Colorado tops them all on the potential outrage meter, however, because in addition to civil fines and penalties, small-business owners can be prosecuted under the criminal laws of Colorado and spend up to one year in jail for trying to live according to their faith."There are other groups preparing for full-scale war in Colorado."American RTL [Right to Life] Action is a political 527 group headquartered a half-block from the Colorado capitol, and we're not going to hire someone cohabitating outside of marriage, let alone a homosexual," said Steve Curtis, the group's president and former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. "SB200 also makes it a crime for us to publish biblical teaching on immorality, so we are prepared to violate this anti-Christian government censorship. The liberals always said what homosexuals do in private could never affect anyone else; of course that was always a lie; they're trying to criminalize traditional Christianity. The fight is on."
As in the days of Noah...