Yesterday we saw the disparate views in politics and life on the front page of our papers. Governor Nixon in Missouri proudly signed an executive order directing all state departments, boards, agencies and commissions in the executive branch to take any steps necessary to comply with the Supreme Court decision extablishing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. At the same time, Kansas Governor Brownback signed an executive order directing state government not to take any action that violates the belief by clergy and religious leaders and organizations that "marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman". The Governor further states that "it is important that all Kansans be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve".
The irony of this statement appears to be totally missed by the Governor. How can we treat everyone with dignity when you just signed an order allowing individuals to discriminate based on their religious belief?
My freshman year in college I took a class on evolving human rights. The first lesson I learned has stayed with me ever since; my rights extend until the point my fist touches my neighbors nose. This basic statement is incredibly profound and should be a determining factor in most decisions we make in life. At what point does my excercising my right negatively impact someone else. If I ask an individual to do something that is "profoundly" (def. acutely, painfully, from the bottom of the heart) against their religious belief, did my fist just hit their nose - possibly? But when we take a step back and insert other profound beliefs, this argument gets watered down. For example - I have a profound (from the the bottom of my heart) belief that no one should smoke. Yet, many of my friends smoke (which from the bottom of my heart I don't want them to do!), I have to acknowledge it doesn't negatively impact me. So if someone's violation of my profound non-religious belief doesn't negatively affect me, can violation of a religious based profound belief negatively affect me? I guess the answer to this lies within each of us.
However, being the operator of a business that accepts State and Federal funding, I am obligated to maintain a "no discrimination" clause. We sign an agreement that states we won't discriminate against individuals based on a variety of factors. This very agreement requires a business operator to step back from their personal beliefs and agree to abide by certain guidelines. By signing the latest Executive Order, the Governor has created a mechanism allowing discrimination.. Now, non profit, religious based organizations that receive State funds have written authorization to decline services to certain individuals based solely on religious beliefs.
Did the Governor's fist just hit our face?
Audrey Schremmer is the Executive Director of Three Rivers Inc. She considers it a blessing to be surrounded by great team members, her peers around the state and country and of course her four legged friends that come with her to work everyday.
Audrey Schremmer-Philip, Executive Director