from the Family Institute of CT
SB 899 Passes--But *Only* After Being Amended to Protect Religious Liberty!
The headline on The Courant's website nicely summarizes the end result of the fight over SB 899: "Amendment Gives Religious Organizations Exemption to Same-Sex Ruling." Make no mistake: The amendment is not perfect and SB 899 itself is the result of an illegitimate court ruling, not the will of the people.
That said, the bill passed last night is a significant improvement for religious liberty in the wake of that ruling. After the Kerrigan same-sex "marriage" decision, religious liberty in Connecticut was left wide open to each and every one of the ssm-related attacks on it that have occurred elsewhere. The amendment passed last night goes beyond Kerrigan and gives protections to religious liberty in Connecticut that Kerrigan did not. The amendment also gives religious liberty many of the protections which were explicitly rejected by the Judiciary Committee last month.
In my March 6th testimony before the Committee I cited several examples (Boston Catholic Charities being forced out of adoption services, the New Jersey Methodist organization losing tax-exempt status over a pavilion, the Canadian Knights of Columbus hall that was sued) of ssm-related attacks on religious liberty which made an amendment necessary. The Committee treated our concerns with contempt and on March 30th passed SB 899 with no amendment to prevent those attacks. But almost every one of the ssm attacks I mentioned will now be against the law in Connecticut because of the amendment that was passed last night.
When it comes to protecting religious liberty, the version of SB 899 which was passed last night is miles ahead of the Judiciary Committee's version. Of course, you will not hear that from our opponents. They are claiming that they are satisfied with the amendment passed last night. History suggests otherwise.Going into yesterday's vote, the adamant position of Love Makes a Family and its lobbyists was: "Pass 899 with no amendments." Once it became clear that we had the votes for an amendment, their strategy shifted to having Sen. Andrew McDonald offer a phony amendment. But McDonald's amendment was shot down in behind-the-scenes discussions by senators who were unhappy with him and with Rep. Lawlor for forcing yet another religious liberty controversy upon the legislature.
At that point, the only way for Love Makes a Family to claim victory was to say they were satisfied with our amendment, as they are now doing. The overwhelming vote for our amendment was a product of the 20,000 phone calls the legislature received this past week--and of the continuing backlash against SB 1098, the bishop removal bill. Connecticut legislators are very sensitive--at the moment, at least--to any suggestion that they oppose religious liberty. That dynamic helped shift the ground on SB 899 to the point where even Lawlor and McDonald had to vote for an amendment which they surely would have condemned as anti-gay "bigotry" just six weeks ago.
FIC is very grateful to the 60 or so volunteers who joined us throughout the day to lobby legislators. I especially want to acknowledge the seminarians of Holy Apostles College in Cromwell and the prayer warriors of the Connecticut House of Prayer. "We fight not against flesh and blood" and several victories against unseen adversaries occurred yesterday because of your prayers and your support.
As recently as a week ago SB 899 was expected to sail through the legislature with no amendment. That did not happen because of all of you. But, while yesterday was a significant victory for us, there is still more to be done.
An FIC-supported amendment to require parents be notified before "gay-friendly" curricula are taught in schools and be allowed to "opt out" was defeated in the Senate and the House. Watch for more information on that vote and what you can do about it.
We will also have more information about the amendment that did pass last night, the votes on that amendment, our allies, and our usual breakdown of "the good, the bad and the ugly." We cannot do it without you! Please click here to make your most generous donation to the one group leading the fight for faith and family in our state day in and day out: The Family Institute of Connecticut!