Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Corrections to Gender Jumble

Two different attorneys wrote to me to point out an error in my NRO article, Gender Jumble. They both called attention to the fact that I had quoted the language from an early version of the bill. The difference is between "reflects adversely" upon anyone based on sexual orientation and "promotes a discriminatory bias."
My first message was from Matt McReynolds, Associate Counsel for the Pacific Justice Institute:
As a matter of accuracy, please note that the original versions of SB 777 and its predecessors containing the "reflects adversely" language were amended before it was adopted. In place of "reflects adversely," which caught a lot of flak last year when it was proposed as SB 1437, the statute as enacted now prohibits instruction or activity that "promotes a discriminatory bias." The substantive effect will likely be the same, but I thought I should alert you to the distinction before someone from the left tries to use that point to discredit your piece.

As I understand it, Pacific Justice Institute was involved in tracking SB777 and commenting on its potentially disastrous consequences.
My second missive came from another attorney:
Dear Jennifer: I enjoyed your article about SB 777. However, you quoted the OLD statute rather than the NEW one. The old law was bad enough, but the new version is much worse. Whereas the old language barred any instruction that "reflected adversely on any person" in the protected groups, the new language leaves out "any person" and bars any statement that "promotes a discriminatory bias." This phrase is nowhere defined in California law. It does not require a showing that any specific person has been adversely affected. It simply focuses on the potential that a sentence uttered by a teacher, or by a student at a school activity, might make it more likely that any person in their audience subjectively might become more rather than less biased toward a member of the protected groups. It is clear from statements by the author of the legislation that ANYTHING that criticizes the LGBT agenda, such as opposition to gay marriage, or even quoting a news story in which such opposition is voiced, would be punished as a violation of the new law. In other words, gay rights groups now have the power under California law to completely censor any statement that disagrees with their political views. Indeed, any statement critical of SB 777 itself is now a violation of law and can result in punishment of teachers and students and lawsuits by LGBT groups against the schools. Schools must take the political position of the LGBT groups or be punished. It is a violation of the First Amendment, both in its free speech and freedom of religion clauses. Indeed, it amounts to an "establishment" of a religious philosophy that sees all kinds of sex outside of marriage as moral.

He offers a more complete analysis of his argument here. I am not qualified to evaluate his claims, as I am not an attorney. Does anyone else have any analysis of this issue? As I said in my original article, any bill that can not be easily interpretted is worth defeating on that grounds alone. But this bill not only passed through the legislature, but it was signed by the Governator.
Readers might be interested to know that the Capitol Resource Institute is sponsoring a petition drive to overturn the law.

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