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Mandt’s misguided excuses

You have to wonder to whom state Del. John Mandt Jr., R-Cabell, thinks he is appealing when he goes on rants like the one he did last year, and another earlier this month. Clearly he isn’t afraid of negative consequences for such misguided ramblings.

In squawking about a piece of legislation he expected to be introduced last week, he bemoaned the proposed addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the state Human Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act.

“It falsely claims to be a civil rights bill about fairness in employment and housing. But instead, it’s nothing more than a wrongful appropriation of the civil rights movement to force a behavioral pattern into a legally protected class,” Mandt wrote on Facebook. “To even be discussing this topic during Black History Month does a disservice to those who legitimately fought to correct real discrimination against citizens with immutable traits like race, that they couldn’t change.”

How appallingly dangerous and wrong that is.

Let’s get one thing out of the way. Katanya Hart’s response was spot on.

“To use Black History Month and the civil rights movement as a means to divide the people of West Virginia is just incredible and unbelievable … for him to speak on the civil rights movement in this way is just simply unimaginable,” said Hart, who is third vice president for the West Virginia chapter of the NAACP.

Moving past that dirty trick, let’s look at the rest of Mandt’s nonsense. Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community are not simply acting out a behavior pattern, nor is their orientation or identity something they can change any more than a person can change skin color. Who they are is not a choice.

But for goodness sake what does it matter? Why in the world would someone argue for the right to discriminate against another human and dress it up as Christianity? A person who calls himself a Christian surely knows Matthew 7:1 — “Judge not, that you be not judged;” or later, Matthew 7:12 — “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them …”

Later there is Matthew 22:39 — ” … Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Why, then, would a person pretend a fairness act is attacking the free speech rights specifically of Christians, when the very definition of discrimination is to first judge someone, and to then treat them in a way that you would not want to be treated yourself?

Mandt’s other excuses for opposing the additions are just as confused and nauseating.

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, should listen then to his fellow lawmakers who wonder why Mandt’s behavior has been rewarded with committee assignments.

“Bigots should not be serving in the Legislature, let alone sitting on powerful committees, which directly impact the very people that Delegate Mandt continues to discriminate against,” said House Minority Whip Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio. “Republican leadership should immediately revoke Delegate Mandt’s committee assignments instead of condoning his message of hate.”

Think for a minute about what it means to have a person whose mind works the way Mandt’s does in these positions: vice chairman of the House Small Business and Economic Development Committee; member of the Energy and Manufacturing Committee, the Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse, and the Senior, Children and Family Issues Committee.

Remember, lawmakers are all in on the effort to attract and retain residents to this wild and wonderful state. Hanshaw has a decision to make about the message he wants to send in dealing with Mandt.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com

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