Rep. Richardson on Gay, Civil & Citizen Rights

The subject of granting “Civil Rights” protection to individuals who are part of Oregon’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) population is on a fast-track to becoming Oregon law. I believe expanding civil rights to include such behavior-based activities in not in the best interest of Oregon or its citizens. Here is why.

Senate Bill 2 has already passed the Senate and will have public hearings in the House on Monday, April 9, 2007. Notwithstanding the magnitude and consequences of this bill on Oregon churches, schools, closely-held businesses and the rights of individual citizens who hold strong religious beliefs about morality, the Chair of the House Elections, Ethics and Rules Committee, Representative Diane Rosenbaum, has just scheduled a Work Session to pass S.B. 2 out of her Committee on the following morning, Tuesday, April 10th. If this occurs the bill could be up for a full House vote on Thursday, April 12, 2007.Essentially, S.B. 2 is a Civil Rights bill that elevates “Sexual Orientation” to the same protected civil rights status as race and religion. The bill defines “Sexual Orientation” as follows:

“Sexual orientation” means an individual’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or gender identity, regardless of whether the individual’s gender identity, appearance, expression or behavior differs from that traditionally associated with the individual’s sex at birth. (Senate Bill 2, Section 1, para. 6)

One problem with elevating sexual orientation, “perceived” homosexuality, appearance, expression and behavior to a protected, civil rights status is the uncertainty of enforcement. Current protected classes of civil rights are based on who people are, not what they do.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, Alveta Scott King, expressed the difference when she said, “While I have met many former homosexuals, I have yet to meet a former black.” On the other side of the issue, former lesbian, Yvette Schneider, asked the thought provoking question when responding to the issue of special rights based on sexual orientation, “Why should I receive less protection now that I am no longer a lesbian?”

The GLBT activists and their sympathizers repeatedly exclaim their GLBT proclivities are inherent and genetic. I am not one who accepts theory as fact, merely because allegations are made passionately and frequently. My research for dispositive, peer-reviewed evidence of a “homosexual gene” has been without success. (For those who care to read a summary of the research, click here.) I have no doubt GLBT tendencies are real and powerful, but tendencies are one thing and behavior is another.

If S.B. 2 becomes law””and the Senate and House leaders believe it will””there will be consequences to the many Oregonians whose religious and moral beliefs strongly oppose the GLBT lifestyle. For instance,

– A school district provides sex education instruction that does not give equal attention to homosexual relationships and practices; an adopted child of a gay/lesbian couple feels discriminated against because the parent’s lifestyle is not equally represented. The parents contact the ACLU demanding equal time and instruction for homosexual practices as that given to heterosexual practices.
– A homeowner operates an adult foster home in her duplex, but does not want to hire a lesbian because the homeowner and her elderly residents do not believe it would “be right”.
– A Christian Bookstore owner refused to hire an otherwise qualified applicant when the owner learned the applicant sometimes dressed and otherwise changed his appearance, behavior and expressions from that traditionally associated with the applicant’s sex at birth. The applicant presented the employer with a doctor’s note indicating the applicant’s need to cross-dress was necessary to maintain the applicant’s proper mental health.

In each of the above situations, and in countless others, if S.B. 2 becomes law, the rights of the majority must legally bow to the demands of a vocal minority.

S.B. 2 will grant state sanctioned and enforced civil rights protections for a person’s appearance and behavior. Please understand, I am against constitutionally protected discrimination and I believe individuals should have the right to live their own lives with a minimum of interference. I am also committed to defending our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I am willing to tolerate another person’s sexual preferences, but I am unwilling to use the force of governmental power to elevate that person’s sexual preferences, appearance and behavior above the religious, commercial, educational, residential and personal freedoms of the majority of Oregonians.


Dennis Richardson
State Representative