.- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law yesterday, Senate Bill 1441, a bill that would potentially remove state assistance from organizations which stand-by religious beliefs deemed discriminatory towards homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, and the like. The bill is being assailed by groups who say that the bill violates their first amendment rights by penalizing them for holding certain religious beliefs.
In a press release, the Sacramento-based Capitol Resource Institute pointed out that the bill, “will prevent parochial schools, such as private, Christian, Catholic, Mormon, and many other religious universities, from receiving student financial assistance if they also maintain a student code of conduct preventing behavior deemed immoral by their religious beliefs.”
“Forcing private education institutions to accept students engaged in behavior offensive to the school’s moral code is a serious infringement of the constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech,” the statement said.
Karen England, Executive Director of Capitol Resource Institute, said that the legislation “is an outright, blatant assault on religious freedom in California.”
“This bill is yet another attempt to prevent citizens with moral and religious principles from expressing their beliefs and educating their children according to those beliefs,” continued England. “On behalf of California families, private schools, and other private organizations, I express our outrage at this attack on our freedom.”
The release also worried about the effect a lack of scholarship support would have on society. “By withholding state funding from schools, students’ educational opportunities will be severely limited,” the communiqué continued. “And limiting educational opportunities will result in a less diverse, less educated citizenry.”
In addition to concerns voiced for religious freedom, many disagree with the bill’s adding of the all-inclusive term “sexuality” to a list of characteristics upon which a person cannot be discriminated.
“As a citizen of California and a religious person, I am terribly disappointed in Governor Schwarzenegger,” stated Meredith Turney, Legislative Liaison for Capitol Resource Institute. “It is bad public policy to add to the list of protected classes a sexual behavior. Equating sexual preference with the immutable characteristics of age, national origin, or race will result in other variable behaviors being added to the list of invariable classes rightfully protected.”
Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families (CCF), a leading California-based pro-family organization, said that he and his associates blame Governor Schwarzenegger for not standing for their rights. “He speaks at churches and says he believes in religious freedom and family values, yet he’s stabbing pro-family Californians in the back. People of faith are suffering under Arnold Schwarzenegger.”