Our state representatives and senators are supposed to represent our best interests, and advocate for what their communities need to thrive and prosper.  But lately, I’ve seen our state leaders play a partisan blame game, crying foul when one party doesn’t invite them to a press conference, or claiming they don’t know anything about bills that their own party peers are cosponsoring. This. Has. To. Stop.

State Sen. Len Fasano posted an article on Facebook with the following caption: “The best way to combat hate is to show unity. Divisiveness cannot fight hate.” The article discusses how state Democrats drafted and proposed legislation that strengthens hate crime laws.

It also points out that the Republicans were not invited to the press release for this bill. Sen. Fasano was quoted, “Instead of working with Republicans to show a united front against hate crimes in our state, Democrats chose political theater. Instead of making today about standing together, Democrats made it about standing apart. Divisiveness cannot fight hate.”

This is a surprising statement, considering the bill was proposed as SB 10 on January 4, and Republicans did not propose an alternate bill in this session.

But, does it really matter WHO proposed the bill? Isn’t it more important that the bill is created and passed? Crying about who was or wasn’t invited to the party deflects from the importance of the bill and the stories behind the need for it.

Connecticut has seen an uptick in hate crimes. The fact that this legislation needs to be put into place is the real concern here, not who proposed the bill. In Stamford, the N-word was spray painted on a garage door. Woodbridge and West Hartford Jewish Community Centers have received multiple bomb threats. Swastikas were painted on Danbury homes and a church.

And while, this is not categorized as a hate crime, let’s not forget the Greenwich Town Council member who grabbed a woman by her genitals. The fact is, since November 2016, some people have felt emboldened to show their true, hateful colors.  And now, Connecticut lawmakers, regardless of party, have to combat it.

This “political theater” accusation is a common theme. In February, I was part of a group of 60 Fasano constituents who met with him to talk about several issues affecting Connecticut, including immigration, healthcare, education funding, women’s reproductive rights, and paid family and medical leave. One of the most alarming responses I heard was when Sen. Fasano said that legislation to protect women’s healthcare was proposed by Democrats to purposely make the Republicans look bad.

Keeping key Affordable Care Act protections for women’s health intact in Connecticut is political theater?

This dismissal is offensive as a constituent and as a woman. Is the Republican leadership telling half of the population in Connecticut that our healthcare protections are partisan ploys? Sen. Fasano ultimately said he would support this legislation, but only after noting that since the Affordable Care Act hasn’t been repealed, the bills are unnecessary.  Now, after the reveal of the Republican ACA replacement plan, these bills are especially necessary.

Recently, some Republican state senators claimed they did not know about a bill that would ban detrimental gay conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth. This is a huge bipartisan effort, with Republican House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, her sister and several other Republicans as cosponsors. Sen. Art Linares claimed gay conversion therapy doesn’t exist in Connecticut (it does) and then said he wasn’t familiar with the bill.

Sen. Fasano’s office told me, “Democratic leadership had never reached out to him to discuss the bill for this session.” Yet another jab against the Democrats was thrown before support was clarified. (He is in favor of the bill.)  How is this pettiness unifying the state? The answer is: it is not.

At the end of the day, we do not care about WHO proposed bills that protect women’s healthcare, strengthen laws against hate crimes, or protect LGBTQ youth. We care that our representatives SUPPORT these bills. Actions speak louder than words.

Divisiveness means, “A tendency to cause disagreement or hostility between people.” Divisiveness is continually claiming that bills proposed by the opposite party are merely political ploys, or Facebook posts about not being invited to a press conference to stir up anger, instead of focusing on why hate crimes in our state have been increasing.  Divisiveness is claiming ignorance of a bill when your own party peers cosponsor it.

Connecticut constituents are paying attention more than ever and are especially looking to the Republican Party here to stand apart from the divisive rhetoric and leadership that is seething out of Washington, DC.

Danielle Morfi lives in North Haven.

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