The National Organization of Marriage on Thursday accused the author of a civil unions bill of being contemptuous of religion after the Colorado lawmaker said Christian don't have the right to discriminate against gay and lesbian individuals.
"Don't claim religion as a reason the law should discriminate," state Sen. Pat Steadman (D) said earlier this month. "We have laws against discrimination. Discrimination is banned in employment, and housing, and public accommodations, and so bakeries that serve the public aren't supposed to look down their noses at one particular class of persons and say 'we don't sell cakes to you.' It's troubling, this discrimination. And it's already illegal."
"So, what to say to those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate?" the Colorado lawmaker continued. "I'll tell you what I'd say: 'Get thee to a nunnery!' And live there then. Go live a monastic life away from modern society, away from people you can't see as equals to yourself. Away from the stream of commerce where you may have to serve them or employ them or rent banquet halls to them."
"Go some place and be as judgmental as you like. Go inside your church, establish separate water fountains in there if you want, but don't claim that free exercise of religion requires the state of Colorado to establish separate water fountains for her citizens. That's not what we're doing here."
The National Organization for Marriage, a top opponent of same sex marriage, described Steadman's remarks as "lash[ing] out at people of faith."
Steadman introduced the Colorado Civil Unions Act on February 8. The legislation would allow same sex couples to form civil unions, granting them some of the responsibilities and benefits now available to married opposite sex couples. The Colorado Senate passed the bill by a 21-14 vote last week.
The National Organization for Marriage and other conservatives have claimed the bill violates religious freedom. Those opposed to the bill said wedding planners and other businesses could face jail time for refusing to serve gay or lesbian people because of Colorado's discrimination laws.
Steadman and other state senators have pushed to repeal the discrimination law in question. The law has never been enforced.
"It's taking a red herring off the table," Steadman told the Associated Press.
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