I remember feeling so great when marriage equality began to spread across the country. Iowa was a shock, Massachusetts, not so much. California made me smile, made me mad, then made me smile again. Washington, Connecticut, New Mexico, Hawaii, and a few others. It felt good. The quashing of DOMA and Prop 8 were a boost, too.
But I couldn’t help feeling that with each step toward equality, we’d find ourselves facing new kinds of discrimination, new kinds of hate, because it’s clear that as progress moves forward there are still some in this country who have their boots planted in the past and are holding on for dear life.
That new discrimination is the push for legalized discrimination — yes, you read that right, legalized discrimination based on your religious point-of view; in other words, God hates Fags. Sounds harsh, I know, but it is in essence what these new faith-based discrimination laws are saying; that God doesn’t like The Gays and she doesn’t want you baking a cake for their wedding, or selling them flowers, or renting them chairs, or serving them food, because they’re, well, icky and stuff.
Take Tennessee for example.
Just a week or so ago, State Senator Brian Kelsey, a Republican of course, proposed a bill he called the Religious Liberties Act; it was quickly, and rightfully so, dubbed, the “Turn the Gays Away” bill because it would allow businesses, any business, to refuse service to The Gays simply on the basis of their belief that God said so.
But then the shiz hit the fan and lotsa folks around the world got upset and Kelsey suddenly pulled his sponsorship of the bill. You know how that works, suddenly you’re in the national news as a bigot and homophobe using the Bible to justify discrimination and hate so you fold up your circus tent and go home.
Which would have been good except the “Turn the Gays Away” bill did not die when Kelsey pulled his sponsorship. Oh no, it found a new sponsor in another Republican — of course — Senator Mike Bell of Riceville, and it seemed to be moving forward. Now that his name is off the bill, Senator Kelsey is thinking about whether he’ll support it or not; big surprise if he doesn’t now that the light is off of him.
Kelsey now says the bill should be modified:
"I think the bill should be clarified to be sure it doesn't regard every day uses of restaurants, facilities, or hospitals or anything like that."
Kinda like, we only discriminate against The Gays on their wedding day, but y’all come back some other time, y’hear?
Also hear this: it appears, for now, that the bill is officially dead, at least for this legislative session. The measure was withdrawn from the Senate Judiciary Committee this past Tuesday. Bell is still saying that his legislation was intended to protect shop owners in Tennessee, and yet at the same time he says he allowed the legislation to die because current state law already offers business owners the protections his bill spelled out because, sadly, the Tennessee Human Rights Act does not include LGBT citizens as a protected class from discrimination.
Then why try to push it forward? Was Bell just trying to double-down on the bigotry? Shore up the hate?
It didn’t work; and it also didn’t work in other parts of the country. Proposed legislation in three other states besides Tennessee — Idaho, Kansas, South Dakota — that would have allowed religious-based discrimination of the LGBT community has either ailed or faced major setbacks.
“[Tuesday was] a very important rebuffing of the latest anti-gay and anti-choice tactics, but I wouldn’t say that we’re out of the woods yet. Our opponents have lost the argument about gay people, they’ve lost the argument about marriage and all they have left is distractions, diversions, and desperate attempts to carve out the license to discriminate as they have tried in every other civil rights chapter in our nation’s history.” — Evan Wolfson, president and founder of Freedom to Marry
Rational thinking lawmakers in Idaho, Kansas, South Dakota, and Tennessee chose to backtrack on the discrimination laws, block the discrimination laws, of just plain vote ‘em down; in Kansas, in addition to allowing individuals, religious organizations, businesses the right to discriminate — how sad does that sound: the right to discriminate — Kansas was planning on allowing government employees the right to refuse service to the LGBT community.
And yet, as happens, as I said, with each step forward, some asshat who lives in the past digs in deep and holds on tight, and somehow convinces people that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is fine.
As in Arizona.
Yesterday the Arizona Senate passed a bill, backed by Republicans, naturally, that expands the rights of people to assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to The Gays. Of course, Arizona if home to homophobe John McCain and the Eva Braun of American politics, Jan Brewer, so is this really a surprise?
The sponsor of this new Hate Law, Republican — are you seeing a trend here? — state Senator Steve Yarbrough says his push for legalized discrimination was prompted by a case in neighboring New Mexico in which that state’s Supreme Court allowed a gay couple to sue a photographer who refused to take pictures of their wedding. Yarbrough says he’s protecting religious rights.
You know, God hates pictures of fags.
“This bill is not about allowing discrimination. This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.” — Steve Yarbrough
The Arizona sponsored eight hostile amendments in an effort to sidetrack the legislation, but they were steadily rejected by Republican-controlled Senate.
So, there you have it, the New Discrimination; because God Said So.
And while we may have won a couple of battles, in four states, this kind of legislation is moving forward in other areas. Republicans, and let’s be clear it’s always the GOP, will be using God to deny equality; using religion as a mask for hate; using faith to tell people to shop someplace else, buy flowers elsewhere. Get married in one of those heathen states.
As I have said countless times, if you’re a business owner and you believe that God wants you to discriminate against anyone, then please, please, put a sign in your window — We don’t cater to Gays — and put a notice in your newspaper ads — No Gays Allowed — and mention it on your website — Straights Only.
Then I’ll know where to shop; and then people, and I’d like to think most people, will know where to shop, and your little faith-based-hate business will dry up and take you with it, because if you truly believe that God Hates Fags then you have no place in religion, you have no faith in a higher power.
You just hate.