Unusual, but I want to start by talking about guns. Each day in the Senate, I know that a few of my colleagues are sporting holstered guns under their suit jackets. I am not afraid of them. I know and trust them: they would never use their guns for anything other than defense – of themselves, and maybe even of me!

But imagine a new circumstance. Put that very same gun into the hands of a wild-eyed madman, running onto the Senate floor. I will be under my desk. It is not the weapon that is different. It is the motivation and unknown actions of the new person that causes my fear.

Words, too, can be weapons. And I ask you to review the federal RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) with that in mind. Passed by Congress in 1993 in response to a Supreme Court case, it was prompted by concerns of protecting religious rites of Native Americans. As originally enacted, RFRA was a bill to DEFEND the oppressed.

But circumstances have changed in our national culture since 1993. Just a short time ago, Indiana suffered through a long battle over a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Today, the Attorney General of California is under fire for refusing to draft and certify a ballot initiative proposal for a so-called Sodomite Suppression Act, which would mandate the execution of sexually active gay men and women. Yes. You read that correctly. What is the source of this kind of hate?

And in the midst of this turmoil, the “new” activists for Indiana’s RFRA reemerged. Is it coincidence that some of the people who fought the hardest to ban gay marriage in Indiana are once again front and center? They tried to pass off their “religious freedom” language as a harmless duplication of the federal version. But we suspect that their motives are no longer to defend the oppressed, but to use these words as a weapon of social aggression and discrimination.

When you cavort with those who spout hatred, you should not be surprised that your motives are suspect.

Sen. Tallian represents Senate District 4 which encompasses portions of northern Porter County and Michigan, Coolspring and New Durham townships in LaPorte County. For more information on Sen. Tallian, her legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/s4.

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