"Those proposing this bill are saying, 'If you disagree with me about my view of gender, you are discriminating against me'," Burt testified. "This is not tolerance. This is not love. This is not mutual respect… True tolerance, tolerates people with different views. We need to treat each other with respect, but respect is a two-way street. It is not respectful to threaten people with punishment for having sincerely held beliefs that differ from your own."
Dolejsi said he anticipated that the bill would pass in the legislature sometime in the next week, and would head to the desk of the governor. At that point, the California Catholic Conference would advocate for a veto, based on the burden the bill would place on religious institutions and the industry of nursing and long-term care facilities.
"Our advocacy with the governor will be inviting his veto based on…(the fact that) it doesn't seem to be sensitive to the many religious organizations that sponsor these particular homes and facilities, and there's no (religious exemption). And, absent a strong experience out in society for rights being violated in this regard, it seems like this is burdening the state in an industry that's already challenged."
Understaffing and under-qualified personnel is a growing problem in nursing home and long-term care facilities throughout the nation, as baby boomers age and the industry struggles to keep up.
While this bill could pave the way for legislation that would apply more broadly, such legislation is already in the works, Dolejsi noted, including a bill that would mandate gender identity training for all state employees.
"That's the nature of how we're experiencing this in California," he said. "It's like every aspect of public life needs to salute and address concerns of the LGBT folks."
Dolejsi encouraged concerned Catholics to keep up with the legislation that was being approved, and to contact their elected officials by email or phone to express their concerns. He also encouraged participation in town hall meetings, and persistency in raising their concerns.
"We need practical laws," he added. "And if there is truly a case of discrimination, then let's sit down and figure out how to...bring people together and solve it in a way that's respectful of people's religious values and expressions and experiences."