Monday, March 06, 2017
Emery: Opponents of SB 43 want to make sodomy a protected class
A highlight of this week was Thursday’s visit from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is now president of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and for whom our daughter once worked in the Washington, D.C., office. Governor Bush met with both Senate and House members to promote pending Missouri education reform legislation including virtual schools, charter school expansion, and tax-credit funded scholarships. Before and after a joint press conference to address questions from the press, Governor Bush answered questions from legislators about the process and effects of Florida’s education reforms. He shared a clear and compelling vision as well as specific insight into the obstacles likely to be confronted.
Virtually the entire legislative week was dedicated to Senate Bill 43, which addresses changes in how the Missouri Human Rights Act is applied to charges of workplace discrimination. Over 17 hours were spent on the Senate floor debating SB 43. It was finally perfected around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Interestingly, a majority of the contentious debate was over an amendment to make what has historically been known as “sodomy” a protected class in the employment community.
In the course of the debate, one minority-party Senator was asked whether a Bible-believing church should be able to fire their pastor because he was a homosexual, and the minority-party Senator’s reply was that the church should not be able to fire the pastor in that circumstance. The descriptive word used to describe the hypothetical pastor was “gay,” but that seems so inappropriate. How does a word whose principle dictionary definition is “Merry; airy; jovial; sportive; frolicsome” acquire a moral component and become somehow linked to such a counter-intuitive habit?
It occasionally seems that the world has abandoned any historic or Biblical standard of morality. This was one of those times. None of the debate addressed whether the homosexual behavior could be subjected to a judgment of right and wrong. In fact, it seems the only “wrong” was to subject any behavior to any standard at all. This is a relatively recent phenomenon brought on, in my opinion, by a societal rejection of any absolutes. Absent absolutes, there can be no truth since truth must, by its nature, emerge from absolutes. Absent absolutes, we live in a world of opinion, and in a world of opinions, the tyrant wins. He who has the loudest voice or the biggest gun wins - what a bleak picture!
This “tort reform” bill (SB 43) was another example of writing legislation in response to “legislating from the bench” by Missouri Courts. Circa 2005, the Legislature changed the measure for a conviction of discrimination from “contributing factor” to “motivating factor.” However, subsequently a court decreed that the two terms were identical in their meaning. It then became nearly impossible to defend against charges that a person’s race, for example, had “contributed” to their dismissal. The “motivating” standard was intended to protect good employers against frivolous lawsuits when a protected class distinction was present but was not a consideration in the dismissal. Hopefully, if SB 43 continues its journey successfully into statute, we will have solved this injustice once again. That is if it can survive activist jurists.