As Senate Democrats entombed a sex-ed bill Friday that every Assembly Democrat voted for last month, their explanation to angry progressives seemed to be:
“Don’t criticize us for this. We voted for putting gay marriage in the Constitution. Isn’t that enough for you people?”
Even though efforts are ongoing to try to plug parts of the bill into another before midnight (Update: They are now trying to get it into a money bill the final week.), Assemblyman David Bobzien, the prime sponsor, told me, "It's dead. I'm horribly disappointed."
In a story about the death of a bill, which sparked outrage among the Puritans and confusion among those who don’t understand and some who think Planned Parenthood wants to perform abortions in schools, state Sen. Tick Segerblom took the good soldier act to a risible level:
Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said the bill didn't go far enough and that Clark County School District does most of the things required in the bill.
"We're not into symbolic acts," he said.
What they are into is a nakedly political act and a shameful and cowardly one, too, designed to protect two lawmakers: Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, who bravely voted for the gay marriage ban repeal at what some said was a risk of excommunication from the LDS church, and Justin Jones, who has to run next year in the swing district that may determine which party holds the majority.
The Senate killed the bill after the Democratic caucus decided, as one insider put it, “that they couldn't vote for it knowing the governor was going to veto and given the push back they got from their constituents.”
As one skeptical and chagrined Democrat told me in a disgusted email, “Senate Ds killed sex end b/c they were too weak to stand up to a block of voters ("constituents") who are vocal and organized but will never vote for Dems -- particularly after the gay marriage vote. They were specifically concerned about rumblings of a challenger to Justin Jones based on this vote -- whose election was supported and endorsed by ...wait for it.... Planned Parenthood.”
I’m told Jones really wanted to vote for the bill, and that may be so. The freshman senator – he was only elected last year in a 300-vote win – has proven many critics wrong and risen to the occasion as a lawmaker, pushing hard for gun control and giving a passionate speech about a gay relative before defying his church and supporting the resolution.
But by arguing that because Senate Democrats approved the gay marriage resolution – and other progressive issues such as mining taxation reform and driver’s privilege cards – that they should somehow be held harmless on this important issue is the kind of incrementalism that so often creeps into Carson City.
Even worse, I'm told that the Democrats essentially had assured Planned Parenthood and others that the bill was fine, which was why a phone banking effort began Thursday for people to call the governor. They thought Brian Sandoval's possible veto was the last hurdle, not a knifing by their "friends."
The sex-ed measure was not a license for Planned Parenthood to invade schools and promote abortion. It was legislation designed to update a decades-old curricula that is no longer relevant and to educate kids about an array of dangers that didn’t exist or were barely known 30 years ago.
Isn’t it their job to educate any constituents who might have misunderstood the intent or whose fears had been fanned by the other side? Wasn’t this issue important enough to do that?
Instead, Democratsic operatives and senators were trying Friday afternoon to tamp down a social media firestorm from the left. That was their priority -- not having THEIR people make this worse for them. Profiles in courage, they are.
And what do they say to their Assembly colleagues who backed this measure? I can imagine: "Sorry, we hung you out, but you know, people might be mad at us so we had to kill it. Hope it's not an issue for you in your elections."
I don't pretend to understand what kind of religious pressures Denis – and Jones, who is Mormon, too – must have felt on this measure and the gay marriage bill. It must have been intense and searing.
So be it. They signed up to be lawmakers and to vote their consciences – yes, I know I sound like a hectoring Pollyanna – not to hew to the dogma they are preached on Sundays.
As my Democratic source put it, “Truth is that the numbers on this with actual voters are fine. Republicans will find a challenger to Jones anyway. And even if the governor vetoes, it creates a nice wedge with women who do support Planned Parenthood. “
That is, the politics and the policy were good for the Democrats, which is generally true if you don’t let fear of voter blowback against what you believe in paralyze you.
Isn’t THAT enough for you people?
(Image from topnews.com.)