by Angela Groom
Last week there were quite a few posts regarding California’s senate bill (SB 1146) on my Facebook feed. The bill, authored by California State Senator Ricardo Lara and co-authored by California State Senator Mark Leno, seeks to close loopholes for discrimination at post-secondary educational institutions on the basis of sex or sexual preference.
According to Rick Zbur, who is the executive director of Equality California, “Prospective students and employees have a right to know if the school they are considering attending or working at will treat them with dignity and respect, or will make them a target of discrimination…SB 1146 makes that bias public, and will inform students, faculty and staff at these academic institutions and allow individuals to protect themselves.” (as reported by EGN)
It seems to me that if you do not have a background in legal careers or politics (lawyer, judge, paralegal, court reporter, attorney, etc.) you may have a difficult time analyzing what exactly these verbose documents of legislature actually indicate. In my case, I was so confused that I had to ask multiple students and a faculty member or two if they would be willing to clear up what the indications of the bill on our college were for me.
Although their answers were concise and helpful, I remained skeptical after numerous conversations that resulted in redirection to news articles. After a moment or two of Googling, it became clear to me that this bill was not getting very much coverage and the coverage that it was getting did not go beyond Christian circles (with only one exception).
I read six different Christian-based news articles, one secular source and the bill itself three different times. After reading the bill text I could not understand what the implications of its amendments were. What frustrated me most was that I realized that legal documents are readily accessible to an individual or to the public. However, the readability and ability to comprehend these legal documents are not so readily accessible. More often than not, we cannot rely on reading the fine print itself because the author of a document can manipulate diction in order to save face in the event of a lawsuit. We have to rely on news sources to interpret bills (or press skip on the terms and conditions) and that is a dangerous place to reside.
This bill offers the pursuit of civil action for discrimination against LGBQT students and faculty members but leaders of Christian schools like John MacArthur, President of the Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles, maintain that, “The Master’s College is clear about its biblical position in regard to LGBT issues. We love and care for all people, but we are obligated by our articles of incorporation and our bylaws to teach and practice what we believe in every aspect of campus operation.”
This statement was made public on their website in response to the Senate bill that seeks to turn Christian schools into schools with departments of religion. These private, Christian post-secondary institutions seek to maintain religious freedom in every aspect of campus life and not solely in “religious departments” of academic and campus life. Such religious institutions across the state of California seek to preserve their first amendment right according to the United States Constitution, that no law should be made “…respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
If you’d like to petition this action, click here.
I would enjoy opening the floor up for discussion on this topic, as I may not be as well informed as I would like. If you have questions, comments, or you feel the need to bring something to my attention on this topic, you may direct them to: firstname.lastname@example.org