This is one of those columns that I dread writing. I know all too well that I'll be branded as a "bigot", "homophobe" and worse for my viewpoint. However, some truths need to be spoken despite the personal cost.
SB 128 was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. The stated purpose of the bill was to "protect the citizens and businesses of South Dakota regarding speech pertaining to views on sexual orientation and to provide for the defense of such citizens and businesses."
As I've mentioned in a previous column, there have been a number of instances of Christian business owners running afoul of their state discrimination laws for refusing wedding services to same sex couples.
Read more: Text of Senate Bill 128
I found the debate to be remarkable because several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee showed an incredible level of animosity toward the bill and it's sponsors.
Senator Mark Kirkeby (R-Rapid City) called SB128 a "mean, nasty, hateful vindictive bill. It just is. I cannot sugarcoat that."
Senator Jean Hunhoff (R-Yankton) said, "I am really appalled that we are considering something like this."
She's appalled that there's an effort to protect those who express a religious viewpoint in opposition to homosexuality? I don't know if she's been listening during mass in Yankton, but homosexuality is still considered to be a sin at the Catholic parish that I attend.
As I followed the debate today, it seemed to me that opponents of SB 128 were the ones engaged in hyperbole and hatred. There were comparisons to living under Communist rule. The name of Fred Phelps, the whacko preacher from Westboro Baptist Church, was also used. There were also lots of references to those who "hate".
The text of SB 128 is available on the link above. This was not a bill borne of hatred or revenge. It is an effort to protect the religious liberties of those who are criticized, shamed, mocked and sued by an increasingly immoral culture.
The strongest argument against SB 128 was actually very solid. Sexual orientation is not a protected class in South Dakota, therefore homosexuals have no standing to sue for discrimination.
So why the need for all the name calling and venom on the part of senators?
Greg Belfrage (@belfrageshow) is heard mornings 6am-9am on KELO Newstalk 1320 AM / 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.