Well, it’s been almost a year since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage and for anyone who thought we’d be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for our Civil Rights needs to think again.
Since that historic ruling, we have seen a backlash against the LGBT in neatly half of the country:
A new law in Mississippi lets any person or any business deny services to same-sex couples because of so-called “religious objections.”
In North Carolina, Governor McCrory signed a law banning any city in the state from passing LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances and barring transgender people from using bathrooms that match their gender identity.
In Tennessee, they also have a “bathroom bill,” plus a bill that lets mental health professionals refuse to treat LGBT patients.
But that’s not all, not by a longshot; there are more than 100 active bills like those in 22 states around the country and they all fall into a handful of categories—mostly being discriminatory to the LGBT community: some are bathroom bills, some let judges refuse to marry same-sex couples, some let businesses deny services to LGBT people.
And it’s all a reaction from the so-called “Christian” conservatives and the GOP in response to that step toward equality we made last year. But some of their efforts have failed spectacularly.
In 2014, facing outcry from the business community, Arizona’s then-Governor Jan Brewer — a Republican — vetoed a bill that would have let businesses cite their religious beliefs to deny services to LGBT customers.
In 2015, Indiana Governor Mike Pence — a Republican — got hammered by the media and the business community after signing a law that allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT people; he then signed an “amended “ version that scaled back the provisions in the original.
And that’s the way we’ll fight these upcoming proposed laws throughout the country: with our dollars and the dollars of the LGBT allies in business. When companies based in states with these anti-LGBT bills, and big corporations with hubs in those states, begin stepping forward with threats to close up shop, to cease expansion in these areas, the economy of those states will suffer and, when that happens, laws will change.
But anti-LGBT activists have a blueprint of their own to follow, one they base on the same tactics used in the anti-abortion movement. The minute the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality, Frank Schubert, the strategist behind California’s Proposition 8, and National Organization for Marriage [NOM] president Brian Brown began a strategy of trying to erode LGBT rights through fear and fear of religious liberties being eroded … though that has never happened.
Yet that’s the tactic they used in Houston last year, and it worked. The city was weighing an LGBT anti-discrimination measure, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance or HERO, and it was expected to pass. Houston had a lesbian mayor — Annise Parker — and an anti-discrimination ordinance already in place, but religious conservatives overwhelmingly defeated it by running TV ads that demonized trans women and suggested the ordinance would allow male sex predators into women’s rest rooms. When HERO went down, conservatives saw a strategy that worked, and soon these “bathroom bills” and “religious freedom” bills began popping up everywhere, though mostly in the very religious South.
Here are some of the bills being proposed around the country:
Religious Freedom Restoration Acts – Conservatives are putting forward state-level RFRAs to let people claim religious liberty as a reason to deny services to LGBT people. That means an evangelical Christian baker can refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding; or the photographer can refuse to provide services to a gay couple based on his or her perceived religious objections; and if that’s not bad enough, some of these bills are so broadly written they can be interpreted as a means to allow discrimination against single mothers, interfaith couples and interracial couples. Eight states have active RFRA bills: Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina and Oklahoma.
First Amendment Defense Acts [FADA] … allow any person, business or taxpayer-funded organization to ignore any law that conflicts with their religious beliefs about marriage. But these not only discriminate against LGBT people, but can extend to single mothers and anybody with a sexual relationship outside of marriage. Three states have active FADA bills: Hawaii, Illinois and Oklahoma.
Pastor Protection Acts … allow churches to refuse to perform marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs, even though the First Amendment already covers this right. There are Pastor Protection Acts in fourteen states: Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Government-officials-using-your-taxpayer-funds-against-you bills … allow judges and clerks to refuse to perform same-sex marriages or issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; four states have active bills like this: Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi and South Carolina.
No-wedding-cake-for-non-straight-non-white-heathens bills … allow businesses to refuse to provide goods or services related to marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs; but these bills can also be used to deny services to interracial and interfaith marriages; four states have active bills like this: Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio.
Other marriage exemption bills … provide other kinds of religious exemptions relating to same-sex marriage; five states have active bills in this category: Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
Bathroom Bills … ban transgender people from using public bathrooms that match their gender identity, and even makes the suing of the “wrong” bathroom a criminal offense; nine states have active bills relating to this: Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.
God-Doesn’t-Want-Gay-People-To-Raise-Kids Bills … allow adoption and foster care agencies to refuse to provide any services that conflict with their religious beliefs about marriage, such as same-sex couples, regardless of what is in the best interests of a child; three states have pending bills like this: Alabama, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
And yet, even with all these Hate Bills out there, there are too many categories for all of them, but here are a few more of note: California and South Carolina have bills that require public universities to provide funds for student organizations, regardless of whether the organization discriminates against LGBT people based on religious beliefs. Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee have bills that allow health professionals to services to LGBT people by citing religious objections. And one bill in Oklahoma prevents local governments from passing nondiscrimination protections, including LGBT protections that go further than protections at the state level; North Carolina’s recent anti-LGBT law does this as well.
So, let’s celebrate the fact that we have won marriage equality, but while we sip our champagne and eat our non-hate-bakery goods, remember that the march is far from over.
The anger from the right over losing on marriage equality is fueling all kinds of hate bills aimed at our community out of spite and we cannot allow this to happen.
We need to use our voices, our votes — Vote Blue! — and our wallets to send a message that hate, for any reason, especially hate using God and Jeebus and the Bible as a reason, will not be accepted.