When the Colorado State Senate debated civil union legislation introduced by gay Denver Democrat Sen. Pat Steadman on February 8, the bill's sponsor and his party colleagues knew the bill would pass the chamber -- which it did, by a bipartisan vote of 21-14 on February 12. But that didn't squash some intense debate when Senate Bill 11 reached the Senate floor.
Amid hours of testimony highlighting personal stories of support and religiously based opposition, Sen. Steadman, widely regarded as a legal scholar well-versed in the intricacies of state statutes, put the debate in context with one sassy, snarky line that inspired the antigay National Organization for Marriage to claim that Steadman was being contemptuous of religion, reports The Raw Story.
Explaining the religious exemptions included in the bill and the nondiscrimination clauses already present in Colorado law, Sen. Steadman borrowed a line from William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
"So, what to say to those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate," asked Steadman rhetorically. "I'll tell you what I'd say -- get thee to a nunnery. Live there then. Go live a monastic life, away from modern society, away from the people you can't see as equals to yourself. Away from the stream of commerce where you might have to serve them, or employ them, or rent banquet halls to them. Go someplace and be as judgmental as you like. Go inside your church, establish separate water fountains, if you want. But don't claim that free exercise of religion requires the state of Colorado to establish separate water fountains for her citizens."
Watch the Senator's comments below.