Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/18/1996 09:02 AM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 308 PROHIBIT SAME SEX MARRIAGES Number 001 VICE-CHAIRMAN LEMAN called the Senate Health, Education and Social Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:02 a.m. and explained that Chairman Green was ill today. Due to the lack of a quorum, Vice- Chairman Leman noted that the meeting would be a work session. He introduced SB 308 as the only order of business. He pointed out that there is a sponsor statement in the committee packet which discusses the following three parts of the bill: * SB 308 clarifies that marriage is a civil contract between "one man an one woman" which the Department of Law indicates as being current law; * SB 308 also has language which states that same-sex marriages recognized by other states is not recognized in Alaska; * SB 308 states that a "same-sex relationship may not be recognized by the state as being entitled to the benefits of marriage." Since none of the witnesses on teleconference had called in, Vice- Chairman Leman took a brief at ease. Number 055 ROBERT KNIGHT, Director of Public Policy for the Family Research Council, thanked the committee for inviting him to testify. He explained that one of Family Research Council's functions is to serve as a clearing house on research about families. Much research has been accumulated which illustrates that children do best with a mother and father family and communities with the most intact families are healthier. Mr. Knight said that much research says that marriage prolongs life like a recent study produced by the American Journal of Sociology. Mr. Knight stated that the key organizing factor behind all civilization is marriage. Marriage brings the two sexes together in a unique legal, social, economic, and spiritual union. Marriage has special protection within the law and the culture because it is indispensable to civilized life. Mr. Knight said that only marriage transforms young men and women into productive, less selfish and more mature husbands and wives and fathers and mothers. No other relationship affords children the best economic, emotional, and psychological environment. Mr. Knight emphasized that only since society has drifted from defensive marriage has society experienced such social problems as divorce, illegitimacy, sexually transmitted diseases, and crime. The answer is to restore the primacy of marriage within the law and the culture. Number 097 Mr. Knight noted that historically, there have been attempts to redefine marriage beyond the one man, one woman definition. For instance, in the mid 1800s there were attempts to legalize multiple partner unions, but were rejected. In 1885, the Supreme Court declared that any state wishing to enter the Union had to have a law regarding the family as being defined by the union of one man and one woman. Mr. Knight noted that the comparison between the banning of interracial marriages and same-sex marriages is not valid. A person is born with a skin color and is benign while sexual behavior has everything to do with character, behavior, morality, and society's basic rules of conduct. Marriage reflects the natural moral and social law all over the world; no society has opened the sexual morality, beyond a one man and one woman marriage, and survived. Studies of cultures spanning thousands of years and many continents by a Harvard Sociologist, found that practically all political revolutions that brought about societal collapse were preceded by a sexual revolution that devalued marriage and the family. Women and children were the most frequent victims when marriage lost its unique status, as is the case in America's sexual revolution. Mr. Knight stated that giving same-sex relationships or out of wedlock hetrosexual couples the same special status as marriage would not be the expansion of a right, but the destruction of a principal. If the one man, one woman definition of marriage is broken then there would be no stopping point for the continued assault on marriage. Mr. Knight pointed out that often feelings are cited as the key requirement in marriage, then why not let three people marry or two people and a child or consenting blood relatives of legal age. Marriage based kinship is essential to the stability and continuity; a man would be more likely to help a son- in-law than some unrelated man or woman living with his daughter. Same-sex relations are a negation of the continuation of kinship through the procreation of children. Even childless married couples retain the possibility of becoming parents biologically or through adoption. Marriage benefits the two people involved, their children as well as children in the area who seek clues to appropriate sexual behavior. Mr. Knight said that creating motherless and fatherless families is not in the interest of the children or the community; it only benefits a particular political agenda. Number 157 Mr. Knight discussed the statements of a homosexual activist who urged for the recognition of same-sex marriages and the benefits in order to redefine the institution of marriage. Another homosexual activist saw gay marriage as a way of forcing society to accept homosexuality. Mr. Knight indicated that gay literature and studies say that few gay couples are stable, those that are stable have an understanding allowing outside sexual contact. Mr. Knight said that the homosexual editor of the New Republic magazine says it is normal that homosexual relationships are different; homosexual households understand the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman. In conclusion, Mr. Knight said that those who care about children, morality, and the well-being of society should resist the attempts by a small group to grab marriage for their own purposes. SENATOR LEMAN noted that Mr. Knight was welcome to fax his written testimony to the HESS committee at 907-465-3805. Number 204 MILDRED BOESSER, a Juneau resident, informed the committee that she was 70 years old, has been married for 48 years to the same person, the mother of four, and the grandmother of four. Ms. Boesser believed that the concept of traditional marriage could be expanded without harm. Often people are blind to their own hypocracies. On the one hand, society says that if marriage cannot procreate it is not viable. While many marriages do not procreate and are not considered less viable than those that do. It is often said that families are deteriorating because of the lack of commitment in unwed relationships, while attempts to pass a law that would prohibit legal commitment between two persons desiring a stable, lifelong, loving relationship are present. Ms. Boesser pointed out that society wants more support for families, while the fact that many different types of families exist is ignored. All of these various families, even same-sex families, would benefit from support. Ms. Boesser emphasized that this nation has worked to remove discrimination from the laws and our practice, but on the other hand discrimination on the basis of gender continues. She also noted that the federal Constitution requires states to uphold the judicial proceedings of other states, while SB 308 would not uphold the same-sex marriage contract of any state. Ms. Boesser discussed the religious paradoxes regarding homosexuals. Many Christians believe that God loves everyone equally while others believe that God loves only those created as they are. She noted that the Lord did not mention homosexuality at all. Furthermore, St. Paul spoke about unnatural acts between heterosexuals, without thinking that some people may be homosexual by nature and not by choice. Ms. Boesser pointed out how many of the moral absolutes of the past have been be proven otherwise, for example, equal rights for women. However, Ms. Boesser believed in the absolute that eventually right will prevail. SB 308 is not on the side of right and if it passes it will result in a needless, expensive legal battle. Number 266 SENATOR LEMAN asked Ms. Boesser where in SB 308 does it say that childless marriages are not viable. MILDRED BOESSER said that SB 308 does not say that, but many people use that as a reason for not allowing same-sex marriages. Ms. Boesser explained that was one of the inconsistencies in thinking. In response to Senator Leman, Ms. Boesser clarified that she addressing both the bill and the inconsistencies in thinking. SENATOR LEMAN specified that SB 308 does not address the valid of marriages according to if the marriage procreates or not. Number 285 MICHAEL JOHNSTON, State Director of the National Campaign to Protect Marriage, supported SB 308. SB 308 is a common sense approach dealing with the following two issues: * the ambiguity in Alaska's current marriage statutes; * the lack of a strong public policy regarding same-sex marriages performed in other states and their claim to the benefits of marriage. The ambiguity issue arises because of gender neutral language in the current statutes. Mr. Johnston said that marriage has never been gender neutral and not clarifying the ambiguous language would open the door for debate at the legislative and judicial levels regarding the legislative intent. Mr. Johnston informed everyone that Utah and South Dakota have passed legislation similar to that of SB 308 in an attempt to not recognize same-sex marriages adopted in another jurisdiction. Currently, 22 states have or are considering similar legislation. Mr. Johnston noted that the primary force in introducing bills such as SB 308 is the expected recognition of same-sex marriages in Hawaii. Many states have faced challenges in their own jurisdiction by lawsuits from same-sex couples demanding that the state grant marriage licenses without regard for the one man one woman requirement; Alaska is one of those states. The Brause and Dugan case is currently pending in the Alaska Superior Court. Mr. Johnston was offended by the fact that a Hawaiian court could be allowed to define marriage for the citizens of Alaska. He informed the committee of polls done in Anchorage prior to the election of 1993 which illustrated that about 70 percent of registered Anchorage voters opposed giving homosexuals special legal protections based on their behavior. Mr. Johnston supported the right of Alaskans to challenge existing law through the court or the legislative process; SB 308 merely clarifies that discussion of issues such as marriage belong within the state. He informed everyone that polls in Hawaii indicate that about 80 percent of Hawaiian citizens oppose the recognition of same-sex marriages. If Hawaii is forced to recognize same-sex marriages by the court, SB 308 would clarify Alaska's legislative intent not to recognize same-sex marriages of other states. Moreover, SB 308 would establish a strong public policy against same-sex marriages in order to support an exemption from the constitutional requirement for the state to give full faith and credit to public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of all other states. Mr. Johnston urged the support of SB 308. SENATOR LEMAN reiterated that any written statements could be faxed to the HESS committee. Number 344 MARSHA BUCK, mother and member of PFLAG, felt that her daughter was being threatened and discriminated against by those elected to lead the state. PFLAG Juneau is opposed to SB 308. She informed the committee that her daughter is in a committed relationship with another Christian woman and wants to marry and establish a legal, stable family which SB 308 would not allow. Ms. Buck opposed SB 308 in any form due its discrimination on the basis of gender. Current statutes make it practically impossible for gay, lesbian, and bisexual couples in Alaska to pursue marriage; SB 308 would create an additional layer of discrimination. SB 308 seems to be mean-spirited and hurtful. Number 377 Ms. Buck posed several questions for the committee to consider as SB 308 is discussed. She disagreed with Mr. Knight's testimony regarding the discrimination of inter-racial marriages in the South; Ms. Buck believed that there is much similarity between the discrimination in SB 308 and the discrimination that existed with inter-racial marriages. Sexual orientation is as much a part of a person as is race; it is not a choice or a lifestyle. SB 308 is reminiscent of Alaska's history of "No Natives Allowed" signs. Ms. Buck emphasized that at the beginning of this legislative session, the legislature pledged to remove and reduce government from the personal lives of Alaskans and yet SB 308 does the opposite. Ms. Buck requested that SB 308 be removed from consideration. With regard to Ms. Buck's comments that SB 308 sounds and feels like discrimination, SENATOR LEMAN pointed out that the Department of Law believes that SB 308 clarifies what is already law in Alaska. Senator Leman asked if Ms. Buck had informed Governor Knowles of her thoughts on SB 308. MARSHA BUCK specified that these are civil rights issues and if something like SB 308 passes, it may be necessary to challenge it in court. SENATOR LEMAN reiterated that the Department of Law believes that SB 308 merely clarifies existing law. Senator Leman asked Ms. Buck if she believed the existing law to be discriminatory. MARSHA BUCK said that there may be an opportunity to deal with that. Number 427 LINNI ESTHER hoped to open the committee members' minds to the importance of supporting gay and lesbian marriages, not SB 308. Not so long ago, parents were matchmakers for their children. Ms. Esther posed the scenario that gays and lesbians were no different than anyone else; gays and lesbians are people that have affectional preferences in gender and personality. She said that all we, gays and lesbians, ask are to be allowed to form legally recognized unions with their loved ones. Ms. Esther informed the committee that her 51 years as a lesbian was as comfortable to her as being a right handed person. Two and a half years ago in Juneau Ms. Esther and her partner participated in a commitment ceremony in order to acknowledge their love for one another. There was no access to a legal union for the couple. Ms. Esther explained that she and her partner were devoted to each other, monogamous, and form a family that is active in the Juneau community. Please allow the opportunity for couples such as she and her partner to be legally recognized within Alaska. SENATOR LEMAN mentioned that his grandmother was matched to her husband by her mother and because of that Senator Leman is present today. LINNI ESTHER asked if that was a choice his grandparents would have made on their own. Perhaps, Senator Leman would not be here today if they had the choice. Number 464 SARA BOESSER, board member of the Committee for Equality, explained that the committee is a statewide organization working for equal rights and responsibilities for gay, lesbian, and bisexual Alaskans. The Committee for Equality opposes SB 308. SB 308 illegally discriminates on the basis of gender and illegally proclaims that Alaska will not recognize or uphold legal contracts in other states. Ms. Boesser felt it unfortunate that SB 308 is before the committee without the announcement of teleconference. As of the weekend, there was no teleconference scheduled for SB 308. Such a bill should be heard with full public process. Ms. Boesser believed that SB 308 would eventually be found illegal at the federal level through court action. Therefore, she recommended that the legislature not pass a law that would result in expensive legal action. With regard to the charge that SB 308 discriminates on the basis of gender, Ms. Boesser pointed out that forcing a person to discriminate on the basis of gender in order to receive a state service or benefit violates current state law. SB 308 breeches federal law by not recognizing other states' contracts. She believed SB 308 to be the most anti-gay/lesbian bill in the legislature and asked the committee to consider the negative impact the bill will have on public discourse. The Juneau Empire printed an article noting that when anti-gay/lesbian bills are presented, there are more hate crimes. As history would teach us, SB 308 is doomed. Ms. Boesser also disagreed with Mr. Knight's testimony that gays and lesbians choose to be so. Most of the current scientific evidence has found that there are biological features which cause a person to be gay or lesbian. She informed the committee that she realized she was a lesbian at age 17 and would not have chosen such a difficult life, but would not choose to live a lie either. Ms. Boesser also believed that SB 308 is very analogous to the laws that were introduced when some states began to recognize inter- racial marriages. Eventually, the Federal Constitution's full faith and credit clause did overturn those unconstitutional laws; would Alaska want other states to disregard contracts made in Alaska? For example, Alaska allows marriages between younger people than in other states. Ms. Boesser asked why a bad law, SB 308, should be passed when it will be proven unconstitutional and not without a legal battle. Number 511 Ms. Boesser addressed the following arguments that may not be in SB 308, but are used to support not allowing same-sex marriages: * If "marriage is only for procreation," then why wouldn't a couples' marriage license be held until the couple has children or why not require couples to sign "procreation pledges." * With regard to the argument that "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," Ms. Boesser understood that God made everyone on the planet some of which she believed God made gay and lesbian. She pointed out that the apostle Paul believed that no man should marry at all. Furthermore, Jesus never spoke against homosexual persons. Ms. Boesser informed everyone that same-sex marriages were blessed by the Christian church in the Middle Ages. The concept of marriage has changed over time and continues to do so. * The argument that "same-sex marriage destroys the family" has been used against many groups. For example, when women wanted to vote many believed that families would be destroyed if women were allowed to vote. How fortunate that such beliefs did not suppress the advancement of women forever. Ms. Boesser said that there are more such "red herrings" all of which would fail upon full and reasoned discussion. She believed that SB 308 should be stopped however, if SB 308 does continue there should be many other committee referrals and teleconferences. In conclusion, Ms. Boesser said that decisions regarding who can receive a state marriage license and its benefits should be for the courts to decide. Ms. Boesser noted that she would submit Dan Carter's testimony to the committee. Number 545 SENATOR LEMAN asked if Ms. Boesser was aware of the apostle Paul's advise about sexual behavior in Romans I and is that consistent with her testimony and understanding of Paul's advise. SARA BOESSER did not remember the exact wording of Romans I, but she knew that he advised any man that could refrain from marriage to do so. SENATOR LEMAN suggested that Ms. Boesser had taken Paul's advise out of context. Senator Leman explained that Paul meant that if marriage was an obstruction to having a heart for God, then the person should not marry and love God. SARA BOESSER said that Senator Leman's explanation is an interpretation. Ms. Boesser believed that there are gay and lesbian couples that have a heart for God and who would like the church to bless their relationships. Interpretations of the bible too have changed over time. SENATOR LEMAN recommended that Ms. Boesser read Romans I and then advise this committee on the application of that to legislation such as this. With regard to Jesus' teachings, Jesus referred to the law which at the time was the scripture. Jesus reduced the law to the following two tenets: love the Lord with all your heart and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. If someone truly loved God, then that person would also keep God's commandments. SARA BOESSER pointed out that this discussion could continue forever. Fortunately, there are churches that do bless gay and lesbian relationships. Ms. Boesser emphasized that there are so many denominations today because people cannot agree on the interpretation of the Bible. Ms. Boesser recalled that Jesus did come forward and indicated that much of the Old Testament was not correct and needed to be clarified. Jesus produced new teachings such as turn the other check instead of an eye for an eye. Ms. Boesser did not hear Jesus say anything against gays and lesbians. Number 573 CHERYL COOK said that she had a letter from Dan Cook that she would read. On her behalf, Ms. Cook pointed out that the U.S. has a separation of church and state and discussions of the Bible should not enter into such arenas. SENATOR LEMAN asked if Ms. Cook was implying that Sara Boesser was out of order. CHERYL COOK replied no. The first witness, Mr. Knight, also brought up biblical references and this seems to be a moot point. Personally, Ms. Cook believed that the separation of church and state is one of the foundations of the U.S. In trying to understand Ms. Cook, SENATOR LEMAN surmised that her testimony was that it would be inappropriate to use biblical references to support a position of SB 308, but it would be appropriate to use biblical references TAPE 96-20, SIDE B that oppose SB 308. CHERYL COOK replied no and clarified that she wanted to point out that there is a separation of church and state. CHERYL COOK informed the committee that she would be reading a letter from Dan Carter who had attempted to fax. Mr. Carter was opposed to SB 308. He hoped that his letter would be read since there was no teleconference scheduled for SB 308. Mr. Carter has been an Alaskan resident for almost 20 years and was proud of Alaska's tradition of being a land of relative tolerance. He informed the committee that he and his partner will celebrate their 27th year together on March 21, 1996. Mr. Carter reiterated previous points regarding the history of interracial couples and the notion that same-sex relationships destroy the family as he noted that legislators do not have control or responsibility over love between two adults. His same-sex relationship has not destroyed his family. Mr. Carter had heard that marriage is a religious contract that could not be changed by law. If that is so and a church performs a same-sex marriage, then SB 308 would discriminate against that religious view. Mr. Carter requested a reply to his letter. In conclusion, Mr. Carter suggested that the legislature's time as well as the state's time would be better spent encouraging committed couples to remain together rather than on this frivolous bill. Number 548 SENATOR LEMAN asked Ms. Cook if she considered SB 308 frivolous. CHERYL COOK, speaking for herself, said that SB 308 may be an unnecessary bill. The Department of Law believes that SB 308 clarifies existing law and therefore, SB 308 may be a waste of time. SENATOR LEMAN pointed out that often statutes are revised when the law has not changed in order to clarify for discord or litigation over the interpretation of the law. Revising the statutes can actually reduce litigations. CHERYL COOK did not believe that to be the case with SB 308. SENATOR LEMAN asked Ms. Cook if she could provide the constitutional citation to support her earlier statement regarding the deeply rooted tradition of the separation of church and state. CHERYL COOK could not cite the citation and did not know if there was such. SENATOR LEMAN said that there is no citation in the Federal Constitution. CHERYL COOK recalled that one of the reasons people came from England was to get away from the church. SENATOR LEMAN specified that this country was founded on the idea that there would be no established religion. There is an establishment clause which states that there would be no established church in the U.S. that everyone would be required to belong as in England. The separation is from the requirement to participate in a particular religious activity. Number 506 STEVE FITSCHEN, Executive Director of the National Legal Foundation, informed the committee that homosexual and lesbian law professors are publishing articles suggesting that homosexual couples from states other than Hawaii should have their marriages recognized in Hawaii, return to their own state and try to have the marriage recognized. The National Legal Foundation believes that to be detrimental to the individual states as well as the nation, therefore, states should act now. States should utilize the strong public policy exception, as SB 308 does, in order to protect against the state court forcing the state to recognize a same-sex marriage of another state. The issue at hand is should this procedure be followed; why should the traditional recognition of marriage be protected? Mr. Fitschen said that often the type of legal challenge brought forth in these cases is equal protection. The foundation believes that none of the limits of marriage could stand up to equal protection if any one falls. Mr. Fitschen said that if one man-one woman fell to equal protection, then incest would fall to equal protection and all the traditional parameters would fall. Mr. Fitschen quoted the U.S. Supreme Court case Murphy v Ramsey which reviewed a statute that defined marriage as one man and one woman as saying, "For certainly, no legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self governing commonwealth fit to take rank as one of the coordinate states of the Union in that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony." The foundation agrees with that. Mr. Fitschen encouraged Alaska to protect itself from challenges in the court. SENATOR LEMAN asked that the remaining witnesses keep their testimony brief due to the lack of time left. Number 457 REVEREND HOWARD BESS, American Baptist Minister and Pastor of the Church of the Covenant, informed the committee that he was the author of the book, Pastor, I am Gay. He has officiated at several holy unions. Reverend Bess opposed SB 308. In his experience, Reverend Bess has found that same-sex relationships are as committed, monogamous, and stable as heterosexual marriages. Reverend Bess explained that a large number of Alaska's gay and lesbian population would not be testifying today because they are frightened by the public hatred and rejection. Reverend Bess believed that whether or not gay and lesbian couples should be protected and receive the same privileges as heterosexual marriages will be decided in other arenas. The Brausse v Dugan case in Alaska will define this in the courts. Reverend Bess hoped that SB 308 would die before reaching the floor. SUSAN HARGIS informed the committee that she is a tax-payer, a property-owner, a community volunteer, and a lesbian. Ms. Hargis stressed that she did not want special rights, only the same rights that other Alaskans receive. She noted that she is in a committed relationship that she plans to have her entire life. By not being able to marry, Ms. Hargis explained that when her partner was having surgery for cancer the hospital informed her that if her partner died they could not talk with her. After the will is probated, Ms. Hargis would be allowed to be involved. Therefore, Ms. Hargis is not allowed the same rights and responsibilities to her partner that she expected; currently, the state prohibits her from exercising those. Ms. Hargis informed the committee that she and her partner own a house together and if one of them dies, the remaining partner is left in a different situation for inheritance taxes. Currently, their income taxes are different. Number 399 Ms. Hargis said that there are many children in her life. She preferred that children see two people that are in a stable relationship and learn that people in a long-term committed relationship are in marriages. Ms. Hargis sensed that the fear is about sex not love. No matter if SB 308 passes, Ms. Hargis said that she would remain in her current relationship. Therefore, she requested the same legal protections and responsibilities as other heterosexual Alaskans. Ms. Hargis believed that marriage is a contract between two people and it is not for the government to legislate between whom that contract can be made. With regards to Mildred Boesser's testimony on the procreation argument in Hawaii, Hawaii used that as part of the legislative argument. Since SB 308 in part addresses the Hawaiian bill, Mildred Boesser's statements are appropriate. Ms. Hargis said that there is research that suggests that being gay or lesbian is mainly biological possibly with a choice component. She noted that she would not have chosen to be a lesbian. She informed the committee that one of the cultures in China does recognize same-sex marriages as well as in Denmark. As the Chair of the Southeast Alaska Gay and Lesbian Alliance (SEGLA), Ms. Hargis opposed SB 308. Number 365 DANIEL COLLISON, SEGLA Board Member and Big Brothers Volunteer, discussed his experience with his Little Brother when the two made dams in order to learn about the coming of the tide. SB 308 is a weak and feeble obstruction meant to dam equal rights and opportunities. Civil liberties were first extended to a group of wealthy and privileged white men. Throughout history such discrimination with civil liberties has been challenged. These challenges have led to such laws as the Jim Crow laws which have been found to be unconstitutional by the courts. Mr. Collison emphasized that now the gay and lesbian minority's rights should be recognized. Special rights are not sought, only equal rights. He pointed out that because he is gay his employer could dismiss him from his job, he could be refused a table in a restaurant, and even be evicted from his housing. If SB 308 were enacted, Mr. Collison felt that the state would be discriminating against him by refusing the recognition and the associated benefits of his union with a male partner. The legislature has more important concerns than creating obstacles against the belief that all persons are created equal and possess inalienable rights not to be denied by the state. Mr. Collison urged the defeat of SB 308. SENATOR LEMAN inquired as to what are the rights. DANIEL COLLISON clarified that he spoke to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. SENATOR LEMAN asked what the constitution said. DANIEL COLLISON reiterated that he was speaking to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which guarantees non discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. SB 308 would deny Mr. Collison in a union with a male partner, the recognition of that union as well as the associated benefits. SENATOR LEMAN said that the Federal Constitution guarantees and protects the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That will become more important as the debate continues. DANIEL COLLISON clarified that the pursuit of happiness in the manner in which one would choose. SENATOR LEMAN noted that Mr. Collison was not denied a place at this table. Number 291 LAUREN CHAMPAGNE, National Association of Social Workers, requested the opportunity to speak without being interrupted. She explained that the National Association of Social Workers is a professional organization representing thousands of social workers at the doctorate, masters, and bachelor level throughout the U.S. The Alaska chapter represents about 400 social workers. The NASW met in 1994, prepared, and published a policy statement which stated that social workers are committed to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation. She said that she would provide that information to the committee. Ms. Champagne believed that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation promotes other behavior such as hate crime. The association is focusing on issues of hate crime this month in order to help young people to work against violence. The National Association of Social Workers opposes SB 308 and views the bill as discriminatory. Speaking as a social worker, Ms. Champagne reminded the two members present that for citizens to come forward and speak before a committee requires much courage and effort. When a citizen comes before a committee with a camera focused on them, that citizen faces great risks. Interruptions, smirks, rolling of the eyes, or note writing is very disrespectful to the process. Ms. Champagne reminded the members of the position of power they are in and the responsibility they have to their constituents. Ms. Champagne suggested that the members read Thomas Jefferson if interested in issue of the separation of church and state. Number 218 SENATOR LEMAN felt it only fair that he respond. Senator Leman had not seen any rolling of the eyes or smirking from the committee today. LAUREN CHAMPAGNE clarified that she was referring to he and Senator Miller during Pastor Bess' testimony via teleconference. SENATOR LEMAN was unaware of any smirking or rolling of the eyes during any testimony other than some by the audience. Senator Leman considered such actions by the audience as reactions to strong feelings. LAUREN CHAMPAGNE said that the audience is not in a position of power. SENATOR LEMAN believed that everyone had power; one person, one vote. Senator Leman acknowledged the difficulty for people to come forward which is why written and teleconferenced testimony is accepted. Senator Leman wished that all the committee members could have been present today, but their staff was present. SENATOR LEMAN held SB 308. He announced that the next committee hearing would be Wednesday on the agenda scheduled.