Rep. Richardson's April 20, 2007 Update
A Tragic Week in ReviewThis past week has been like no other. On Monday the world witnessed the tragedy at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. On Tuesday Oregon witnessed the passage of Domestic Benefits for same-sex couples (HB 2007) and Civil Rights based on sexual orientation. I will address each of these issues below and end will a postscript on last week’s Rachel story.
Reflections on Virginia Tech Tragedy
A Chinese friend emailed her regrets and condolences from the People’s Republic of China for the loss of the Virginia Tech students. She asked what might be done to keep guns away from such madmen. I explained to her in my opinion if violent killers, such as this madman, had no guns available to them, they would accomplish their vicious goals using some other means--explosives, deadly poisons, chemicals or otherwise. Such isolated acts of extreme violence are a sad commentary on the deprived level to which our society has devolved.
Although there is nothing I can do about what occurred in Blacksburg, Virginia, there are a couple of notes, principles and lessons from the Virginia Tech incident I thought I would share with you.
Note: Thirty-two innocent people woke up on the morning of April 16, 2007. Each of them got up, got dressed and began their day, just like every other day. For those thirty-two people--although they had no way of knowing--it was their last day on earth.
Principle 1: No matter how routine a person’s life may seem to be, unforeseeable disasters can occur anytime.
Lesson: Live life as if every day may unexpectedly be your last…one day it will.
Lesson: Forgive everyone and keep silent the criticisms that sting those who you love; express your love everyday through word, touch and service.
Note: Virginia Tech student Jason Joseph stated after the massacre, "It's pretty shocking, to be honest." He went on to say, "It's not like our school's dangerous. There's always this sense of security ... I didn't feel like I was in any sense of danger."
Principle 2: No matter how secure you might feel, in a free society the government cannot always protect the innocent from violent or deranged people.
Lesson: Make and implement a plan to ensure your ability for self-protection.
Final thought: A Salt Lake City newspaper told of a Utah co-ed who was asked if the Virginia Tech massacre made her feel insecure on her Utah college campus. She said she felt secure to know many of her [veteran, law enforcement and other] classmates had concealed-carry permits and were armed. (In Virginia it is illegal for students to be armed on campus; the only person with a gun was the shooter. If the madman had started shooting on a Utah campus, it is likely there would have been fewer casualties, and the shooter’s death would not have been by suicide.)
Aftermath of House Bill 2007 and Senate Bill 2
"Any privilege, immunity, right or benefit granted…because the individual is…married…is granted on equivalent terms…to an individual because the individual is…in a domestic partnership.”Thus, whether you support or oppose the concept, Oregon’s Domestic Partnerships truly are marriage by another name. HB 2007 was presented as an “anti-discrimination” bill. In fact, it creates a special class of beneficiaries by giving the benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples, while depriving those same rights from non-gay and lesbian couples, such as two adult sisters who live together, or a mother who lives with her adult child. In sum, HB 2007 creates special rights for a politically powerful minority, while discriminating against others in similar co-dependent circumstances.
(H.B. 2007 Section (9) (1))
House Bill 2007 now goes to the Senate for hearings, debate and a vote. The Governor is anxious to sign the bill and create Domestic Partnerships for “qualifying” couples. Senate Bill 2 passed the House by a 35 to 25 vote and is on its way to the Governor’s pen. S.B. 2 elevates “Sexual Orientation” to the same protected “civil rights” status as race and religion. The bill defines “Sexual Orientation” as follows:
“Sexual orientation” means an individual’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or gender identity, regardless of whether the individual’s gender identity, appearance, expression or behavior differs from that traditionally associated with the individual’s sex at birth. (Senate Bill 2, Section 1, para. 6)This is a broad and uncertain definition. Since it provides government enforcement power against those accused of discriminating because of “perceived” homosexuality, appearance, expression and behavior SB 2 will have far-reaching consequences. During the floor debate many instances of unintended consequences of SB 2 were proposed by the bills opponents, and the courts ultimately will be called on to sort them out. I believe there will be societial anomalies to deal with as well as the legal ones. In the years ahead, I believe SB 2 will result in a small minority of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) activists imposing their lifestyles and views of behavior on an unwilling majority in Oregon’s schools, work places, and eventually in all aspects of our society. When it comes to political strategy and maneuvering, the GLBT activists have certainly been successful in moving forward their political agenda.
Follow up on Rachel’s Story
Several of the emails contained similar situations of erroneous billing practices experienced by others. Rachel’s story was given merely to show there exists a systemic problem in the health system--one of many that drains much needed revenue from the health care system.
During the Legislative interim I heard testimony from an independent auditor of hospital bills in Washington State. She told our committee that in Washington State 70-80% of the audited hospital bills contained over-charges. I have no data on which to base an estimate regarding Oregon hospital billings.
I remain committed to researching, revealing and reforming government inefficiencies whenever and wherever possible. Such oversight must include situations where government assets may be overspent.
This session Oregon hospitals and health insurance companies have been very cooperative in joining coalitions for making information more open and available for citizens and patients. I believe transparency is the first step toward ensuring our government is being run more efficiently, more effectively and more economically.
While in the military, Representative Whisnant served in Vietnam, Germany and Yugoslavia. While in Yugoslavia, He served as the Defense and Air Attaché and senior military officer from June 1990 until October 1992. He served in command positions and staff positions and on the Air Staff and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and as an International Political Military Affairs Officer.
Representative Whisnant earned his commission from the AFROTC at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as a BA degree in Journalism. He later earned a Master’s degree from the University of Arkansas in International Affairs.
Gene is married to the former Josie Coffey of Portland, Oregon. Their son, Todd Whisnant, is married and lives in New Bern, NC. Gene and Josie have one grandson, Colby Todd, who was born in September, 2004.
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