Greetings WAC Community,
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted as lawbreakers. – James 2:8-9
HB 135 has the misleading title of “Government Nondiscrimination Act,” and proposes putting in Wyoming statutes that “protection of the free exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions” means allowing government employees to deny services and benefits based on their belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. A better name of HB 135 might be “Government Employees’ Right to Discriminate.” To view a copy of the bill, click here.
When I became director of a domestic violence and sexual assault program several years ago, one of the existing staff let me know that she would be uncomfortable helping victims who were in homosexual relationships because of her religious beliefs. Of course, our agency was commissioned to serve all victims, not just some. I had the luxury of assigning other advocates for those cases. But protecting an employee’s right to discriminate and deny help for a victim would be morally wrong.
I am offended that the right to discriminate is brought under the guise of religious freedom. Please, do not do that in my name as a Christian who believes we are called to love others, not discriminate against them! The position of the Wyoming Association of Churches is for protection of religious freedom, but not for it being used to allow discrimination. Pertinent sections include:
Oppose discrimination and support equality regardless of religion, color, race, national origin, age, disabilities, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Support public policies that both respect religious liberty and protect against the use of religious beliefs or traditions to discriminate or undermine equality.
(To view WAC’s current resolutions, click here.)
A highlight of the week on our work is that HB 76 American Indian Education Program passed the House Education Committee unanimously with a few clarifying amendments. Thanks to many of you who let me know that you had emailed the committee. It made a difference! Jason Baldes and Cherokee Brown came from the Wind River Reservation to testify for HB 76 on behalf of the Wind River Native Advocacy Center.
It is expected to come to the floor of the House this coming week. Please take a couple of minutes to email or to call your House Representatives soon to vote Aye on HB 76.
For emails, put “Vote Aye on HB 76 American Indian Education” in the subject line in case that is all the time they have to read your message. Keep your messages brief. If more than a few words, use bullet points instead of paragraphs. Let them know you are a constituent. Include your name. Remember that their email addresses are their firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calls for messages to your representative go to 307-777-7852 or for simply asking for a vote for HB 76, use the voter hotline at 866-996-8683. The phone lines are open 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.
Don’t know your legislator? Go to http://legisweb.state.wy.us/LSOWEB/LegInfo.aspx
While I know that the transfer of public lands issue is not dead, it does appear that SJ 3 proposing a Wyoming constitutional amendment is dead based on a statement Sen. Bebout made to the Casper Star Tribune. The Joint Appropriations Committee is proposing to reduce the amount of funding for the tribal liaison positions, making them two half-time positions.
This week is the deadline for new bills to be requested: January 24, for the Senate and January 27 for the House. We are expecting new bills to come up that will be of interest. Stay tuned
Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.
P.S. The Wyoming Association of Churches appreciates your many financial gifts for our justice work in Wyoming for the oppressed. Click here. Or mail your contribution to WAC, PO Box 1473, Laramie, WY 82073.
Dates to Remember:
Solidarity Demonstration with Standing Rock, Jan. 28, 3-6 pm, Wyoming State Capitol, Cheyenne
Crow Pipe Ceremony, June 16, Heart Mountain, near Cody
Ecumenical Advocacy Days in DC, April 21-24