As an American, the Constitution promises me this:
Congress shall make no law 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.
Accordingly, in America today we are free to practice religion – or not – as long as no one is harmed in the process. If someone wants to follow the instructions in Leviticus: 9-12 and not eat shrimp, no one can force them to. If someone sexually assaults children in the name of Christianity as Warren Jeffs did, they are arrested and prosecuted.
In order to serve people of all faiths, public policy can only be based on the best facts available with the goal of improving all constituents lives. Unfortunately our legislators in Nashville don’t seem to understand this.
State Representative Mark Pody claims that God told him to introduce a bill banning same sex marriage. It is impossible for anyone else to verify that God spoke to Mr. Pody and told him to do this. His personal spiritual experience cannot be the basis for creating public policy that restricts citizens from exercising their constitutional right to make life choices that don’t harm others.
State Senator Mae Beavers told me last week that she has never met a trans child, she just knows that her bill requiring trans children to use the restroom that matches the sex they were assigned at birth is the "right thing to do".
When I asked her how she would tell the parents of a trans girl that their daughter has to use the boys room she said – "I don’t know". What? Why is Senator Beavers introducing a bill that affects children she has never met, with no plan for implementing it?
Our legislators don’t seem to understand that laws are not magic wands they can wave around to make the world match their personal religious beliefs. Laws have to be enforced, there has to be a plan for enforcement, and money to do it. More importantly there has to be evidence that all citizens can verify that laws improve our lives. Otherwise they amount to wasted tax money and government over reach.
Discrimination and violence threaten the lives of LGBTQ people. Trans children in particular are vulnerable when they are singled out and not supported by schools. Proposing bills that further stigmatize these groups of constituents is the opposite of what our legislators should be doing.
In addition they are failing all of their constituents by wasting publically funded time to harass the people they are supposed to serve. An effective lawmaker would be working on the real issues that affect our health and safety such as expanding health care coverage and addressing the rapidly rising rate of traffic crashes and fatalities due to cell phone use.
The people of Middle Tennessee deserve much better service than our local lawmakers are providing. I look forward to supporting superior candidates in the very near future. I hope my friends and neighbors will join me.