The following comes from a July 14 Mass Resistance article:
Bill 1146, a product of the national LGBT movement, is considered by many to be the most aggressive anti-religious legislation in the country. Its goal is to force Christian colleges to surrender their opposition to homosexual and transgender behavior. It would require Christian colleges that want to keep their Christian values intact to publicize their “discriminatory” policies and open themselves up to vicious attacks and state (and federal) lawsuits.
On June 23 the bill passed the California Senate. It was set to go before the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Thursday, June 30. So June 29 seemed like a good time to pay a visit to the office of the bill’s sponsor, Senator Ricardo Lara Long Beach.
“They need to see us and hear our voices,” says Arthur Schaper, director of the California MassResistance. Arthur quickly brought together a coalition of local churches, local MassResistance activists and got great help from SaveCalifornia.com. “Let’s be blunt. The LGBT movement is not about individual liberty, but collective tyranny,” said Arthur.
Arthur had made an appointment for himself and five others to meet with Senator Lara’s staff (and they hoped the Senator) at 4:30 pm that afternoon.
People began gathering on the sidewalk outside the office building around 3:30 pm. “The turnout was beyond my expectations, and certainly shocked the state senator’s office,” said Arthur. People from Los Alamitos, Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, Torrance, Lomita, Long Beach, and Fontana all assembled in front of Lara’s office demanding that he pull his terrible bill.
Pastors, parents, and professionals of all backgrounds came. They were lined up and down Atlantic Ave., reminding businesses and passersby about the religious bigotry that Senator Lara was pushing in Sacramento.
Students and others from nearby Biola University, one of the most prominent Christian universities in the country, also protested with them.
People driving by honked in solidarity. Some people walking down the sidewalk asked what the demonstration was about. Members of the different churches explained the protest against Lara and his anti-religious agenda.
At 4:30, Arthur went upstairs for his scheduled meeting and discovered that the door to Sen. Lara’s office suite was locked and the entire staff had left the premises! A note on the door simply said, “Out in the field.” (The office advertises its office hours as 9 am to 5 pm.)
Arthur came out and told the protesters. Most of them turned and went back upstairs with him, and continued their protest in the hallway! They signed their names on the note on the door, or left notes for the staff.
Did all this have an effect? The following day it was announced that Sen. Lara had modified the text of Bill 1164, for its Judiciary Committee public hearing on Thursday, June 30. In an apparent effort to “soften it” he put back language that he had previously removed, so “ministry” programs would be exempt from the proposed law.
But that’s a small concession. The brunt of the bill still remains for all other aspects of life at Christian colleges. And the new bill also adds language that specifically forces the homosexual and transgender agenda into the schools’ dorms, codes of moral conduct, extracurricular activities, and even official religious practices!
On June 30, the day after the protest, the Judiciary Committee of the State Assembly held a hearing for the bill with its modified text. Arthur and others had rallied activists in the Sacramento area to come to the State Capitol and testify.
But the establishment clearly felt the bill was now on shaky ground, and they decided to shut down the opposition. By the standards of legislative public hearings that we’ve seen and attended around the country, this was a complete sham (and we don’t say that lightly). You can watch the video of the hearing here.
The entire hearing lasted less than an hour. Sen. Lara was allowed an open-ended opportunity to speak for the bill, both at the beginning and throughout the hearing. In all, three speakers (including Lara) were allowed to testify in favor of the bill and three against it. They were given about five minutes each. Outrageously, one of the speakers “against” the bill was an ACLU official who said she supported the intent of the bill but was “against” it because it didn’t go far enough!
There were about two dozen additional members of the public who came to testify. But they were only allowed to quickly state their name, affiliation, and whether they supported it or not. (They were all against it!) They weren’t allowed to give any reasons, or say anything else. They clearly did not even want to hear any opposing arguments at all. If they attempted to say anything, they were quickly cut off by the Chairman.
The Judiciary Committee had not really been lobbied by California MassResistance, with everything moving so fast. So there was little or no push-back to their railroading it through. Unfortunately, it’s a common problem with the pro-family movement. That’s about to change.
The California Legislature is taking a break during July and will re-convene in early August. There is yet another committee that Bill 1146 must go through – the Appropriations Committee – before it goes before the full Assembly for a vote, and (if it passes those) to the Governor’s desk.
The Appropriations Committee hearing has not been scheduled yet, but would likely be between Aug. 4-9. We were told that there is no public testimony taken at that hearing, just “discussion” by the Committee members and a vote. If it passes, it could be on Assembly floor by the 15th.
Often, California politicians purposefully let a bill linger over the July summer break before finally bringing it to the floor, hoping that the momentum against it will subside. California MassResistance is using the time to focus on members of that Appropriations Committee (and people in their districts).