I Speak Out…

Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor born in the late 1800s and a vocal foe of Adolf Hitler, is the source of one of my favorite quotations.   Niemöller’s words below carry a powerful message about honoring the rights and equality of others.  Unfortunately, there is always another reason to revisit his words.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

I was disappointed to read that Senate Bill 2252 which sought to make it illegal in North Dakota to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation died in the Senate.  The bill sought to amend the North Dakota Human Rights Act which provides recourse against discrimination based on things such as age, gender, race, and disability.

I was irritated beyond words at the following statements in The Forum  attributed to Republican David Hogue of Minot who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Hogue, and fellow committee member Sen. Kelly Armstrong, R-Dickinson, said enacting policies to try to change behavior quickly does not work. Armstrong called it “social engineering.”

“I think it’s working itself out naturally,” he said. “It’s happening at the grass-roots level, and it should.”

Hogue compared the idea to former President Bill Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which addressed the issue of gay military members but didn’t invoke substantial policy change. Twenty years later, gay individuals are serving openly in the military.

Wow.  Is that the way you legislate Mr. Hogue?  You sit on your hands and allow folks to be treated as less until someone else steps up years later and says, “ENOUGH!” You can in good conscience tell gays and lesbians in this state just to hold on for a couple of decades and it will get better?  HOW DARE YOU!  What if your child or one of your family members were discriminated against based on their sexual orientation?  Would you be willing to just let it slide until everyone warmed up to it?  I doubt it.

You believe “enacting policies to try to change behavior quickly does not work” – yet you will spend the bulk of the legislative session doing exactly that.  Of course, that behavior you will eagerly seek to change will be behavior that you simply cannot abide by – not some silly legislation that provides protection from discrimination to gays and lesbians.  Why would you bother?  It isn’t you that is affected.

And you know what – it isn’t me either.  But I have seen the insidious nature of discrimination over my years on the planet and I will not stand silent just because I am not personally affected.  For legislators to allow the mistreatment of others to continue without recourse is wrongplain and simple.  In fact, I would argue that legislators who disregard their responsibility to protect the citizens of North Dakota should resign forthwith and allow someone with a backbone to step in and get the job done.

The good citizens of North Dakota who believe in equality are not waiting 20 years for you to grow a backbone Mr. Hogue.  We are going to elect more folks like Josh Boschee and the senators who supported Senate Bill 2252.  Discrimination against gays and lesbians must end – we need leaders who get that and will fight to remedy that situation.  And you sir, are clearly not one of them.

Day one thousand three hundred and twenty of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

8 Responses

  1. PrairieWoman

    This session has been just as ridiculous as the last. North Dakota better get in the game of the 21st century, or we are going to be left behind in the 19th. I think the statement, “Stuff just got real” is going to apply for many of the current legislatures if they don’t start representing the people…the real people not the corporate personhood.

  2. Paul Cline

    These are the same group of jokers that want to force counseling & a mandatory waiting period on couples seeking a divorce (? Social Engineering) while refusing to authorize an ethics commission for themselves because they are pure as the driven snow.

    Sometimes I am embarrassed to call ND home

  3. Paul Overby

    “the North Dakota Human Rights Act which provides recourse against discrimination based on things such as age, gender, race, and disability.” You will notice a commonality among those four items — they are all distinctly physical traits that are easily determined.

    The Bill sought to provide protection for class that can only be determined by “self-identity.” To wit, the latest Gallup poll being used to ridicule ND was based on the question of “Do you identify yourself as …?” This becomes problematic all by itself, as it inherently involves questions of choice and behavior, especially when dealing with persons who identify as bisexual or transsexual. In addition, unlike the current four classes protected by the Human Rights Act, this class of behaviors have some very distinct morality issues that the others don’t. And thus, for example, bakers are forced to violate their moral code in order to accommodate the gay weddings in states that have such a protected class. Or a 50 year-old transsexual male (not surgically fixed yet!) is allowed to use the women’s locker at a pool whether there are young girls present. Yes, this a real situation — look it up yourself.

    But you will soon have your way. A movement is underway in Europe to have GLBT behavior declared a “Human Right,” which is being preceded by the coordinated adoption of gay marriage laws in Britain and France. They will be challenged by the clergy and quickly disposed of by the European Commission on Human Rights. On this side of the Atlantic, the Supreme Court is to take up the issue from California, and depending on timing, may very well find several members invoking European Law (which they have in the past) in order to give 14th Amendment protection to GLBT’s — and pretty much doing anything else you want in life, because now behavior and identity will be a protected class. Extend that one out in your imagination and see where it takes you…..

    1. Paul Cline

      You are overlooking another protected class under the US Constitution & federal law: religion; & baring side curls it is very difficult to tell a Catholic from a Protestent from a Muslim from a Reformed Jew. These all require self identification, so on that basis alone your argument is spurious.

      You are correct in your assertion that many people do not accept homosexuality as a valid human condition & therefore do not consider it inappropriate to marginalize these individuals. I would remind you the very same arguments you outlined above were used to discriminate & marginalize every group identified as protected.

      I am Southern Baptist & it can never be far from my consciousness that the Southern Baptist convention was founded as a response to the abolitionist movement. It was created to further chattel slavery, all in the name of God.

      You are also correct in your assertion that this is a battle you will lose. History is against you. As for your fear mongering about bakers, that is farcical. No baker has ever been forced to accept an assignment. They can pick & choose their customers.

      A hotel operator cannot. They must rent to a gay couple regardless of their feelings because they are a public convenience. There is a big difference between the two.

      Remember as little as 70 years ago it was illegal to marry someone of a different race in many states. Since my wife is Mexican I would’ve breaking the law. Likewise everyone foretold gloom & doom when the armed forces were integrated in 1948 & more recently when DADT was repealed. Neither happened.

      No Christian church will be forced to marry gays. The only thing that is going to happen is those who are opposed will lose their veto. Like desegregation, our society will definitely change, but not come to an end.

      1. ValleyGuy

        Christian Churches will be forced to cater to homosexuals. It is already happening.

        Look at the Christian Churches that have adoption agencies. They have to essentially shut down, to keep from being forced into letting a child be adopted by a homosexual couple.

  4. Paul Overby

    And that is what will happen. Christian businesses will go underground. Freedom of religion is actually a constitutional right from the beginning of this country and is not a behavior but a belief system. And while some Christians in the south protected slavery, the abolitionist movement was a Christian movement.

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