Tilting at windmills in the California legislature
Don Quixote thought the windmills dotting the Spanish countryside were monsters, and as soon as he saw them, he planned to attack. His perceptions were at odds with reality, and we shouldn’t be surprised that no monsters were actually destroyed.
We now have the curious situation where a California Assemblywoman (not surprisingly, a Republican) has introduced legislation, AB 2237, that would mirror Arizona’s recently vetoed “religious freedom” bill. SB 1062, which I’ve called the “Hate the Gays in God’s Name” bill, passed the Republican controlled Arizona House of Representatives and the Senate recently. It was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer after an increasing cascade of negative publicity brought down on her office the wrath of both the left (to be expected) and the business community.
Even though Arizona’s GOP hadn’t learned the lessons of the past (losing a Super Bowl and an estimated $500 million in economic activity over discriminatory legislation), the business community had, and the Governor heard them, loudly. Of course, many of the calls for a veto were based on the idea that the law was simply the wrong thing to do, morally. Other states with bills similar to Arizona’s have either since withdrawn them, or expect them to fail or be ruled unconstitutional by a court if they do become law.
Bakersfield’s Shannon Grove, however, doesn’t seem to have been paying attention.
On February 21, 2014, she introduced AB 2237:
BILL NUMBER: AB 2237
INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Grove
FEBRUARY 21, 2014
An act relating to civil rights.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST
AB 2237, as introduced, Grove. Unruh Civil Rights Act: exception: religion.
The Unruh Civil Rights Act provides that all persons within the state are free and equal, regardless of their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation, and are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.
This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would provide an exception to the Unruh Civil Rights Act to protect the free exercise of religion.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to provide an exception to the Unruh Civil Rights Act to protect the free exercise of religion.
The GOP in California’s Assembly (25 R to 55 D) and Senate (12 R and 28 D) are a super-minority, and the Governor is a liberal Democrat. Grove’s bill, should it ever see the light of day on either body’s floor, will go down in flames. Bright, intense, never-stood-a-chance flames. If by some incredible twist it were to reach Governor Brown’s desk, he’d certainly issue a veto. So why is she proposing it?
It’s a bill that has no chance of getting anywhere, so one has to wonder. I’m always disappointed when an elected representative, of any party, stoops to pandering to various groups. Leadership sometimes requires unpopular choices, and that includes not introducing legislation that exists only to denigrate an entire group of people, and to fan ideological hatreds. Hiding behind “religious freedom” may make them feel better about it, but it’s clearly meant to allow people to disregard civil rights law in the name of religion. “Hate the Gays in God’s Name” might be good Tea Party politics, but it’s poor leadership.
This attempt to bring Arizona’s flawed and failed “religious freedom” bill to California can only be a message to certain party faithful that the GOP is still willing to attack the windmills of LGBT equality, and fight to the bitter end.
Or at least until it’s killed in committee.