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Sex couples should be protected

By Sheila Bapat
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
April 13, 2000
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Discriminating against gays has become a hobby for some of the state's top legislators.

Some, including Tucson Sen. Elaine Richardson and Glendale Sen. Scott Bundgaard, are willing to let a bill that would protect domestic violence victims die because it could also protect same-sex couples.

Senate Bill 1173 would prevent insurance companies from discriminating against victims of domestic violence. The bill's language requires that "opposite sex" be a qualification for domestic violence, a provision that Tucson Rep. Kathleen Dunbar tried to change.

Clearly, the bill ought to include a provision that protects same sex couples.

When Dunbar tried to change the provision to include same-sex couples, the bill's chief sponsor and supporter became outraged at the prospect of helping gays and rescinded their support. Bundgaard said that even though he sponsored the bill, he could not bear to support it anymore because "they're making this into a gay rights issue."

"It's not a law enforcement issue, it's turned into a gay rights issue," Bundgaard told the Tucson Citizen. "And that's precisely what I'm not interested in furthering, gay rights."

How sad it is that this man was ever elected to public office.

What Bundgaard is too prejudiced to understand is that domestic violence legislation is not about gay rights or straight rights. It is about human rights. It is about the government protecting people who are involved in harmful domestic relationships.

Even though Bundgaard first agreed to support the amendment, he claims that his support was "conditional" and that he cannot support Dunbar's provision.

He also believes that Dunbar's amendment should be a separate bill, that changing the definition of domestic violence should be an entirely different piece of legislation and doesn't belong in his bill.

But simply changing the definition of domestic violence does not require an entirely new piece of legislation. Dunbar's amendment is actually a quick and fair way to do it, which is precisely what Bundgaard doesn't want.

Dunbar's amendment has probably stiffened relations between herself and Bundgaard, who essentially said he cannot support any provisions that will assist gay victims of domestic violence.

Dunbar, a relatively new legislator, is fighting the Bundgaards and Richardsons of the Arizona state legislature because she knows that such a provision is the only fair way to protect all victims of domestic violence.

As long as the Arizona state legislature is dominated by intolerant politicians, the state's gay citizens will continue struggling to have their rights recognized. Society has just begun to accept homosexuals. Many still forget that homosexual partners have the same problems as heterosexuals, that domestic violence is a problem for all people and not merely for those of a particular sexuality.

If these state legislators are not going to protect all of their constituents, they should not be in office.

Bundgaard is essentially picking and choosing which constituents he wants to represent, and he is choosing not to represent gays because he doesn't like them.

Though Dunbar believes the bill still has a chance to pass, her amendment will probably cause the bill to die. Essentially, Bundgaard and Richardson are letting their prejudice against homosexuals prevent all Arizona victims of domestic violence from seeking help. They are also overlooking that domestic violence is as much of a problem for homosexuals as it is for heterosexuals.

Domestic violence is a sad reality that impacts gay and straight people. Victims of such violence ought to be protected regardless of their sexuality.

But Richardson and Bundgaard don't care.

According to the gay-hating duo, if you're abused, you should be able to get help. If you're abused and you're gay, tough luck.

Bundgaard and Richardson hate gays so much that they are willing to let a valuable bill die rather than protect homosexuals' rights. They are too afraid of a lifestyle that is different than theirs, too weak to stand up and protect all of their constituents.

If this bill dies this session, the state legislature's commitment to protecting all of its citizens will die along with it.

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