Sussex County Delaware

Venables Lists Concerns
About House Bill 99
Letter to the Editor

State Senators,
21st District, D-Laurel

Robert L. Venables is a Delaware State Senator representing the 21st Senatorial District.

Delaware Senator Robert L. Venables

Dear Editor,

In 1950's America, the worst thing a person could be called was a "Communist." With the use of McCarthyism many innocent people were smeared as being Communists by individuals who had their own agendas. Today, in our franticly politically correct society, the worst thing anyone can be called is a "bigot."

Much like those who used McCarthy-like tactics in the 1950's, there are those who today are using a cloak of "anti-discrimination" to impose their own agenda and are willing to smear anyone who stands in their way as a "bigot."

As many people know, I am strongly opposed to House Bill #99, which its supporters claim is needed to insure anti-discrimination of sexual orientation.

Despite the efforts of some people to paint me as a bigot, those who truly know me can tell you that much like Will Rogers used to say, "I never met a man I didn't like." While I am opposed to discrimination, I am also very much opposed to any mandated measure by our government that would force our state, our businesses and our citizens into accepting special treatment for certain groups of people.

Since all Americans are already granted equal rights and protection under the laws of our state and our nation, I see no need for singling out any segment of our society for special treatment. During the time House Bill #99 has been an issue, I never, even with the three-hour long Senate Small Business Committee public hearing held in 2002, heard of anyone who claimed to have been discriminated against based on their sexual orientation who was not able to pursue justice through our court system with the laws as currently written.

One of the most disturbing parts of House Bill #99 is the irresponsible way the language of the bill is written. By the bill's loosely worded description of sexual oriented discrimination as "real or perceived", it would put our state's businesses, employers and citizens in a virtually impossible position no matter how much they may wish to comply with the actual intent of the legislation.

Nowhere else currently in the Delaware Code, including the parts addressing anti-discrimination and hate-crime laws, is there any reference to any legal offense that is defined as "real or perceived." The burden of enforcing and adjudicating such a recklessly written law would be a nightmare for our citizens and our court system. For this reason, I support Senator John Still's amendment to remove this wording from the legislation.

When I have pointed out to supporters of House Bill #99 that there is already adequate legal protection for this type of discrimination, they have responded that the bill is really about imposing the social acceptance they want for their behavior to be viewed as "normal."

While it should be the responsibility of government to make sure its citizens are protected from discrimination, as it already does, it should never be the role of government to impose on its citizens the belief that certain types of behavior are "normal." Government should only govern our actions and correct the wrongs of these actions, it should never attempt to mandate the beliefs or opinions of its citizens on what is to be considered "normal" with unclear laws using painfully vague wording as "real or perceived."

Despite the denials by its supporters, another concern I have is that House Bill #99 would be used for things other than what is specifically spelled out in the legislation. Many times after they have been enacted, laws are often interpreted in ways that are much different and broader than what the General Assembly intended in enacting them.

Chief among my concerns is what is taught in our public schools and for this reason I have introduced an amendment that would make it clear that House Bill #99 would not be used to effect our public schools. Since imposed social acceptance and not the prevention of discrimination is the actual goal of this legislation, there is a very real danger that House Bill #99 could create many more problems than its supporters claim it would solve.

Robert L. Venables, Sr.
State Senator, 21st District
Legislative Hall
Dover, DE 19901
Home Phone - (302) 875-9559
Senate Phone - (302) 744-4298; Senate Fax - (302) 739-6890

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