Facts be damned

2013-02-05T00:00:00Z 2013-12-28T15:16:07Z Facts be damned Casper Star-Tribune Online
February 05, 2013 12:00 am

Thank God last week is through.

And, as far as invoking religion, that’s about as far as we’ll go in this editorial.

Last week was the time allotted by the Wyoming Legislature for “social bills” ranging from hot-button topics such as abortion and gun control. Emotions ran high, rhetoric ran hot.

That’s as it should be. Again, legislative leadership should be complimented for quarantining the social issues bill en bloc so that discussion and debate wouldn’t derail what is proving to be an otherwise productive session.

We’ve opined about the domestic partnership/gay marriage debate. And, as much as we believe the Equality State has fallen short of its motto, the legislative and democratic process worked: We chose our legislative representatives, they’ve decided the issue for now.

While we continue to believe domestic partnership recognition or gay marriage is a civil matter and can be regulated by the state without harm to religious institutions, we also recognize the right of others to take the opposite position with equal conviction.

In as much as we hold our position, we also recognize that some might oppose gay marriage or domestic partnerships on religious grounds. While we believe the state is not the proper interpreter of religious doctrine, a lawmaker or citizen that decides the issue based on a religious commandment prohibiting homosexuality is a position that has integrity. A person can read the Bible or go to church and come to the logical conclusion that homosexuality is wrong.

However, what cannot be accepted so easily are comments made by a couple of legislators.

We believe these statements must be challenged. To let them pass by without question or challenge would be to run the risk of giving them credence and even worse, acceptability. That is, some statements are so factually reckless or ethically suspect that they must be challenged.

As one of the institutions in the state charged with public discourse and dialogue, we believe it is our role to question the substance of these thoughts.

As she voted against the domestic partnership bill, state Rep. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne, continued her one woman fight to make sure gay rights were not associated with the civil rights movement.

As reported in the Star-Tribune, Hutchings said she is a member of four protected classes because of her sex, her race, her religion and being a disabled veteran.

“I’ve personally been spit on, beaten, kicked and called the n-word every day in elementary school, and I survived. It was part of our lives, and we just dealt with it. As I said, these classes were there for a reason, not just because a few people had a hard time in school,” Hutchings said. “You can look at some kids who were picked on for having red hair, having freckles, being poor, being short, being tall. Are we going to add them to our protected classes also?”

To equate gay rights issues as on par with freckles shows not only a lack of understanding but also little compassion. This isn’t just about the normal teasing that nearly every child endures at some time or another; this is about a constant barrage of being humiliated and in some cases, assaulted because of sexual orientation.

We hold Hutchings doubly accountable. First, for understanding that injustice doesn’t take the same form in every circumstance. More importantly, though, we would hope a woman who has been spit on and verbally assaulted with a word as ugly as “nigger” would be more sympathetic. We would hope those horrible experiences would arouse in her a compassion and a conviction to never let another group suffer the same kind of humiliation, insult and injury she unfairly received because of genetics she couldn’t control.

Then, there were statements by Rep. Mark Baker, R-Rock Springs, who cited unnamed sources that said few gay and lesbian people live into their senior years. The implication is that their sexuality is so harmful that in some form — presumably disease, violence or drug abuse — gay people don’t survive to see Social Security benefits.

Baker may not have named his sources, but we will.

His source appears to be a study from the early 1990s by the Family Research Institute, conducted by Paul Cameron.

Cameron presented several reports that contained such misinterpretation and incorrect “facts” that the American Psychological Association as well as the American Sociological Association discredited them and kicked Cameron out.

These so called facts and reports were nothing more than propaganda meant to inflict harm, not provide information.

For Baker to pass them off as fact is a disservice to his constituents and the people of Wyoming because it leads residents to believe something about an entire group of people that simply isn’t true.

We are obligated to challenge both Hutchings and Baker because residents in Wyoming — like any other place — must set the expectations and standards for our leaders. We should be able to tolerate a difference of opinion, but there shouldn’t be a difference of facts.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(28) Comments

  1. Nick M
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    Nick M - February 13, 2013 10:47 am
    Supercal

    “The separation of church and state is not written in the constitution.”

    Correct.

    “Actually, separation of church and state is not written in the constitution. However, the term written by Ulysses S. Grant, 1875 : Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and the state forever separate. His intentions, (which have been twisted since), was for law makers not to interfere with the family and the church. Not making laws forcing the families of America and their churches to adhere by dictatorial agenda.”

    Dead Wrong.

    From the Encyclopedia Brittanica at http://www.britannica.com/presidents/article-9116880 :

    “Several church bodies, notably Catholics and Lutherans, developed extensive systems of parochial education in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The parochial school was based on the conviction that "secular" education was inadequate, even dangerous, for children of church affiliation. The churches that were engaged in education argued that they had a right to some of the public funds that were devoted to schools. Bishops Michael Corrigan of Newark and John Ireland of St. Paul both actively sought public funds for Catholic schools. In Illinois, it was feared that the combined vote of the Catholic and Lutheran electorate would endanger the very existence of the public school system. With such issues as these in mind, President Grant made the following remarks at Des Moines, Iowa, in 1876.

    “I do not bring into this assemblage politics, certainly not partisan politics, but it is a fair subject for soldiers in their deliberations to consider what may be necessary to secure the prize for which they battled in a republic like ours; where the citizen is the sovereign and the official the servant; where no power is exercised except by the will of the people. It is important that the sovereign, the people, should foster intelligence and the promoter of that intelligence which is to preserve us as a nation. If we are to have another contest in the near future for our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon's line but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other.

    “Now, the centennial year of our national existence, I believe, is a good time to begin the work of strengthening the foundations of the structure commenced by our patriotic fathers a hundred years ago at Lexington. Let us labor to add all needful guarantees for the greater security of free thought, free speech, a free press, pure morals, unfettered religious sentiments, and equal rights and privileges to all men, irrespective of nationality, color, or religion. Encourage free schools and resolve that not one dollar of the money appropriated to their support shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian school; that neither the state or nation, not both combined, shall support institutions of learning other than those sufficient to afford to every child in the land the opportunity of a good common-school education, unmixed with sectarian, pagan, or atheistical dogma.

    “Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and private schools entirely supported by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate. With these safeguards I believe the battles which created the Army of the Tennessee will not have been fought in vain.”

    Grant’s excellent statement on this issue was spot on. His intention was not “for law makers not to interfere with the family and the church.”

    You’re free to quote Grant, but you don’t have the right to lie about the intent of his words.

    And “the episcopal denomination has already brought homosexuals and females into the their clergy?” Gays and WOMEN?

    Oh, the horror.
  2. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - February 06, 2013 11:58 pm
    There is a reason that the homosexual community loves the words "equal rights". The only problem here is that they are not asking for equal right, they want special rights.
  3. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - February 06, 2013 6:28 pm
    David,

    You wrote "Yet I don't see people like Rep. Hutchings or Rep. Baker passing laws against any other sins in the Bible." Churches and the Bible teach that murder, rape, and child abuse are wrong, but no one says laws prohibiting such acts are a violation of the “separation of church and state.” Do they?

    If one were to accept the erroneous, court-invented claim that the Constitution requires a strict separation of church and state, opposition to same-sex marriage would not be unconstitutional.

    You mention discrimination. Discrimination is already in the Constitution. In fact, all laws discriminate; but it is discrimination against behavior, not persons, and it is discrimination with cause not without.
  4. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - February 06, 2013 5:56 pm
    My apologies. I didn't scroll up to see the replies. I apologize
  5. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - February 06, 2013 5:48 pm
    It is telling, on some level, that no one has answered your question WyoJeff.
  6. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - February 06, 2013 5:47 pm
    mcfromkc writes:

    "This editorial is about legislators using misinformation, propaganda and outright lies to support a particular point of view"

    Do you agree then that there are places on the left, and the right, that do this? You write this as though Fox is the only news source that does this. I just want to make sure that you are willing to admit this. If not then there is no point trying to have an open dialogue with you.
  7. mcfromkc
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    mcfromkc - February 06, 2013 2:21 pm
    wyojeff, gee someday maybe I'll be as logical and ideologically as pure as you. LOL
    BTW, if the church is so "against the actions" why don't they do something about it?
  8. WyoJeff
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    WyoJeff - February 06, 2013 1:15 pm
    I'm not the one screaming and crying. I am just pointing out how much of a hypocrite you and many libs are. If a church does not believe in gay marriage. I'm ok with that. If others do except it, I'm ok with that too. But when you start forcing someone or a group of people to be forced into an action that goers against their belief, I feel it is wrong.

    As far as the catholic church and the problems they have with priest goes, is not the same as the church is against the actions that the priest keep doing. They do not promote it.
  9. supercalifragilistic
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    supercalifragilistic - February 06, 2013 12:06 pm
    WyoJeff, that's where the "friction" arises.
    The bible does teach most churches and congregations that homosexual behavior is WRONG in the Eyes of God, Himself. The homosexual community chooses to see things differently.

    I think the tolerance is there, otherwise we'd have an Iranian theocracy on our hands.

    On the flip side, we're witnessing more and more members of the homosexual community attempting at using law makers to force or via dictatorial rule, force recognition of sexual lifestyles as a civil right.
    Which is obviously incorrect! Regarding government dictation and spuriously connecting sexual lifestyle with civil rights. Which are all incorrect and not violating any laws or rights.
  10. mcfromkc
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    mcfromkc - February 06, 2013 11:40 am
    wyojeff, simmer down, I'm not trying to restrict anyone's access to life liberty etc, just couldn't resist taking a stab at the utter hypocrisy of institutions like the catholic church.
    geez, you are more excitable than a schoolgirl.
  11. WyoJeff
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    WyoJeff - February 06, 2013 11:25 am
    Super,

    That is why I said the Catholics should be looking at this very closely. Some religions have no problem with gays and gay marriage. That is great for them. Other religions do have a problem with it and they should be allowed to have their own beliefs as well. We all should have tolerance for others beliefs, sexual and religious.
  12. supercalifragilistic
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    supercalifragilistic - February 06, 2013 10:55 am
    WyoJeff, > How long before gays and women demand to become priest?
    I hope this doesn't come as breaking news to you but, the episcopal denomination has already brought homosexuals and females into the their clergy. -- (Or were you being facetious with that comment?)

    Actually, separation of church and state is not written in the constitution. However, the term written by Ulysses S. Grant, 1875 : Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and the state forever separate.

    His intentions, (which have been twisted since), was for law makers not to interfere with the family and the church. Not making laws forcing the families of America and their churches to adhere by dictatorial agenda.
    This is the greatest myth that most americans believe is true, but its not.
  13. WyoJeff
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    WyoJeff - February 06, 2013 10:50 am
    "Maybe they should be FORCED to change the way they select priest." spoken like a true lib where tolerance is demanded only as long as it works for them. So much for freedom of religion. So much for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for others. I guess it only applies to Gays. MC just proves my point.
  14. mcfromkc
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    mcfromkc - February 06, 2013 10:36 am
    wyojeff, "How long before gays and women demand to become priest?"
    Where have you been for that past 10 years? The catholic church is already the world's largest employer, enabler and defender of pedophiles, maybe they should be forced to change the way they select priests.
  15. WyoJeff
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    WyoJeff - February 06, 2013 10:04 am
    That might not be true if this became a law. Religion could then be a target. We are already seeing this happen around the country. The Catholics are the ones who should be looking at this. It will not be long before Obamacare will attempt to force them to offer birth control and perform abortions in their hospitals. How long before gays and women demand to become priest? All of these are where rights will conflict. you will see a real war on religion. People are already confusing why we have separation of church and state. Just look at David in Houston's comments. They are also starting to believe you have freedom FROM religion.
  16. supercalifragilistic
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    supercalifragilistic - February 06, 2013 9:13 am
    WyoJeff, last time I checked and knew ... this is still america,
    In this case here, thus giving every business owner the right to refuse service to anyone's attire worn, shoeless among other issues. In other words, no one has the right to force business on a vendor or merchant, just in the same way boycotts are formed.
    Now, if the stated reason (in the referenced article) was race, creed or religion? That would be a different story all together, regarding discrimination. So there are no laws against refusing service due to sexual orientation.

    This is why Wyoming has not had to worry about discriminatory or civil issues. As the issues "Wyoming Legislators" keep facing should be placed before the people at the ballot box. Let the people decide.
  17. WyoJeff
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    WyoJeff - February 06, 2013 7:08 am
    Then why have we seen so many people slam Wyoming over this bill not passing? This bill could itself discriminate. This is going to need to be worked out. No person should be discriminated against. Not against their sexual beliefs or religious beliefs. But there are going to be conflicts between rights.
  18. mcfromkc
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    mcfromkc - February 05, 2013 4:12 pm
    wyojeff, easy now, I didn't say I would force anyone to do anything, I'm saying that's my understanding of anti-discriminations laws. All too often people use religion as an excuse for their homophobia or whatever other bias. By your logic you could refuse to serve just about anyone based on some type of religious belief. Besides, the guy could've just said he was too busy but chose to make an issue of the couples sexual orientation instead.
  19. WyoJeff
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    WyoJeff - February 05, 2013 3:50 pm
    So you would force someone to act in a way that violates his religious beliefs because of the beliefs of gays who stand by everyone having tolerance. It seems that tolerance only goes one direction. I would also point out that Gay rights are base on a vague comment in the Declaration of Independence (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) while religious rights were the very first and most important right drafted in the bill of rights as it was very clearly laid out in the 1st amendment. I would also add that forcing someone to take an action against their religious beliefs also violates the very source of the gay rights. What about the bakers right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? The baker does not stop the gays from being together and does not ask them to take an action they don't want too. But yet the gays are demanding that another citizen take an action they don't want to even though it violates both the 1st amendment and the life , liberty and the pursuit of happiness cause they claim for themselves.
  20. mcfromkc
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    mcfromkc - February 05, 2013 3:18 pm
    wyojeff, I appreciate the links. As for your original question I believe the answer is no, a business owner cannot refuse to serve someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, just as they cannot refuse to serve someone based on their race, age or any type of disability.
  21. WyoJeff
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    WyoJeff - February 05, 2013 1:04 pm
    Here is the link from the local news, but because it is a fox news branch can't be believed.

    http://www.kptv.com/story/20940125/gresham-bakery-wont-make-cake-for-gay-wedding

    So heres a link from a Portland paper.

    http://www.portlandpulp.com/stories/Gresham-bakery-refuses-to-cater-gay-wedding-189664401.html

  22. WyoJeff
    Report Abuse
    WyoJeff - February 05, 2013 1:01 pm
    To please the non believers, here is a link from a Gay news site.

    http://www.queerty.com/baker-gay-couple-wedding-cake-religious-freedom-20130204/
  23. Marnie
    Report Abuse
    Marnie - February 05, 2013 12:10 pm
    Fox News has a history of outright lying and many places don't air them except on paid channels. (I don't consider myself a troll by the way.)

  24. mcfromkc
    Report Abuse
    mcfromkc - February 05, 2013 11:54 am
    wyojeff, yes it does matter what source it came from. Fox news has a history of cherry-picking and sensationalising information, i.e. the "war on Christmas"
    I'm guessing you would be skeptical if I was using Al Sharpton as a source to prove that discrimination exists.
    This editorial is about legislators using misinformation, propaganda and outright lies to support a particular point of view which is a specialty of fox news, thus my comment
  25. WyoJeff
    Report Abuse
    WyoJeff - February 05, 2013 11:01 am
    That was the first site I found when I googled it for David's reference. Does it matter what source it came from? Would that make the story not true some how? Or are you just trolling again?
  26. mcfromkc
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    mcfromkc - February 05, 2013 10:33 am
    wyojeff, what a surprise, you get your information from fox news radio.
  27. WyoJeff
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    WyoJeff - February 05, 2013 10:07 am
    I would like to agree with you based on the fact that we should have tolerance for those who have different beliefs. I have to pause and ask a question before I do that though. Currently there is a baker in Oregon who owns "Sweet Cakes" but because of his religious beliefs will not bake and sale cakes to gays. Under this bill would that make it illegal for him to follow his religious beliefs and force him to take actions against his religion? If so, that would not tolerance for his religious beliefs.

    http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/baker-faces-investigation-for-refusing-to-make-gay-wedding-cake.html
  28. David in Houston
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    David in Houston - February 05, 2013 6:39 am
    I enjoyed the article. Although, I do take issue with this passage:
    "While we believe the state is not the proper interpreter of religious doctrine, a lawmaker or citizen that decides the issue based on a religious commandment prohibiting homosexuality is a position that has integrity. A person can read the Bible or go to church and come to the logical conclusion that homosexuality is wrong."

    No laws should be based on religious ideology. None. The state is not an extension of the church, nor should it be. Our Founding Fathers made it clear that there should be a distinct separation of church and state. I find little "integrity" in using the Bible to justify bigotry and discrimination against other citizens. Historically, the Bible was used to justify slavery and miscegenation laws banning interracial marriage. You'd think Rep. Hutchings would know that. Supposedly the Bible labels homosexuality as a sin. Yet I don't see people like Rep. Hutchings or Rep. Baker passing laws against any other sins in the Bible. Why is that? I thought all sins were equal? Don't you think it's just a bit of a coincidence that the ONLY sin they want the state to enforce is one that doesn't impact them at all? I think the word you're looking for is hypocrite.
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