Tag Archives: LGBT

Arizona Reserves the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone

23 Feb

I cast thee out


So, the Arizona Legislature passed something called SB 1062. Lots of people are in an uproar about it, so I thought I’d check and see what all the hub bub is about.

From what I can gather, this bill redefines and expands the state of Arizona’s definition of “exercise of religion” and “state action” to protect businesses, corporations and people from lawsuits after denying services based on a sincere religious belief.

Basically, as long as a person’s behavior is motivated by a religious belief, and that religious belief is “sincerely held”–that person or business is protected under the law.

A lot of people think this law is intended to provide Arizonians an extra opportunity to be mean to gay people. I can see that this law would certainly do that.

For example, if my religious beliefs tell me that HIV is God’s punishment for being gay, I would be free to deny medical treatment, or anything else to a person who is HIV positive. Of course, if my religious beliefs tell me that your religion is a crock or is just plain evil, I am also free to deny you goods or services because, hey, sincerely held beliefs!

Can you imagine? Like, for example, a country club populated by WASPS could deny membership to people of the Jewish faith because they sincerely believe those people killed Christ.
If I am an atheist, can I discriminate against Christians? Why not? As long as your atheism is a “sincerely held” belief.

Don’t get me started on some people’s sincerely held beliefs about Muslims. Or Buddhists, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Catholics, or Mormons…

Pregnant woman without a wedding ring (or worse–pregnant lesbian with a wedding ring!)–I sincerely believe you are a harlot and no,  I will not serve you in my holy restaurant.

You two men–I will not rent you a room in my holy hotel because I suspect you are a same sex couple. You’re not? Then how come you have the same last name? Brothers? Hmmmm, you look like homosexuals to me. So, shoo! I can’t be too careful, what with my sincerely held beliefs and all…

The folks behind this bill say it will not lead to discrimination but will, instead, “protect the religious freedom of every Arizonian.”

Because apparently the state of Arizona is overrun with sinful people who are forcing “people of faith” to do all sorts of horrible things like bake cakes for same sex weddings and all manner of evil. This is apparently the biggest problem facing the people of Arizona today. Once this bill becomes law, Arizona will be OK, I guess.

What’s wrong with that?

Something these legislative people should know, that I know (and I am not even a lawyer or even a paralegal) is that the interpretation of the law will not be determined so much by the people of Arizona as it will be by case law.  When an angry lesbian mothers whose child was denied medical treatment or an upset Mormon family who were refused hotel accommodations start dragging all these sincere people into court. Basically, you won’t know how terrible this bill really is until you’ve unleashed it upon the arid land that is Arizona.

I think the people who want to see this bill pass would do well to provide examples from the Bible that illustrate why this law is so important.

How about that time Jesus fed the multitude with just a few loaves of bread and some fish? Wait–that’s a bad example. I don’t think Jesus even asked if there were any gay people in the crowd who might inadvertently be fed by him, despite his sincerely held beliefs.

And not only did Jesus provide free health care on more than one occasion, he didn’t even bother to screen out the sinners from the people who actually deserved to be healed because they shared his sincerely held beliefs.

Maybe that is because Jesus wanted to reach people who didn’t share his sincerely held beliefs because, you know, why preach to the choir?

It has been a while since I have been to Sunday school, but I am pretty sure you’d be hard pressed to find one example in the Bible in which Jesus touch someone’s heart by being rude.

I believe that the people behind this bill do the true believers a disservice. This bill is going to give all sorts of pious jerks the opportunity to act snotty to other people in the name of Jesus–and feel good about doing so. All the while convincing significant numbers of people that these folks who call themselves Christians are, well, pious snotty jerks.

I am not sure that is the most effective way to spread the gospel, but that’s just me.

When you compare the lessons that Jesus taught with the messages the supporters of this bill are putting forth, you kind of get the feeling that SB 1062 is rather un-Christian.

At least that’s the way I see it. Heathen, though I may be.

Still, there is something I love about this bill.

I love that Arizona often attempts to out-crazy Florida and is usually successful.

Thanks, AZ for making FL look somewhat lucid, at least on occasion.

Happy Sunday.

Watching sausage being made–a rant

20 Jun

I went to a professional organization meeting a week or so ago. The speaker was an employment law attorney who, as it so happens, had recently provided some expert testimony at one of the seemingly endless City Council meetings held to debate the merits of banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The attorney used a familiar analogy–watching elected officials in action is like watching sausage being made.

I watched sausage being made yesterday. The City Council’s Recreation, Community Development, Public Health and Safety Committee held a public hearing. It is good the public can (and does) come out to express their opinions, but the committee let the clock run out without voting. This makes it unlikely the bill will be voted on during next Tuesday’s council meeting, which means it all sort of starts over again when the committee chairs change next month.

One of the most vocal opponents of the bill  is Councilwoman At Large, Kimberly Daniels. I know it is unseemly to resort to name calling in a political debate, but those who disagree with Ms. Daniels sometimes call her “a crack whore.”

That would be ruder than it is, except Ms. Daniels admits that she, indeed, used to be a crack whore. But she found God and became a minister and now she doesn’t use drugs. As for the other word, well, it was her decision to become a politician, so if the shoe fits…

Ms. Daniels’ life story is one of redemption. I love stories of redemption. What I don’t love is when someone like Ms. Daniels insists that people like me are irredeemable. She, and many others, send this message when they insist that any law that protects the rights of LGBT people, encroaches on the First Amendment rights of “people of faith.”

The message is, “I am a person of faith. You can’t be a person of faith, because you’re gay.” I have received that message from a relative recently. I admit my perspective is skewed, but the rest of the message I hear in this is, “I am superior to you.”

There is no meeting of the minds, no middle ground, no hope for compromise or amity, when you believe the other side is not only wrong, but beneath you.

One of the speakers yesterday blathered on with statistics she had gotten from somewhere. Her bottom line was–there are tens of thousands of people in Jacksonville who go to church but only an infinitesimal number of gay people, so it would be wrong to stomp all over the rights of the church goers in favor of the gays.

Because if gays are granted rights, they will block all the roads to the churches?
Just for the record—gay people are people of faith too. Gay people go to church too. There are plenty of heterosexual people of faith who do not believe that discrimination against gay people is sanctioned by God.

Every time someone frames this discussion as a fight between “people of faith” and the LGBT communuity, he or she is saying, “God is on our side and he is not on your side.”

What teaching of Christ are they using as a template for this rhetoric and behavior?

While I am ranting, let me just put this out there–stop calling my life a “lifestyle.”

Anyone who knows me, knows that my life is many things, but it is definitely not “stylish”.

Lifestyle implies a fad, something ephemeral and less than valuable. It is a put down. They might as well say, “your little gay life” when they say “your gay lifestyle.” You are less than. My life is a real life. Your life is just a lifestyle–life-lite.

I didn’t have to watch sausage being made to know that, for the most part, I am better off not eating sausage in the first place. I cannot, however, work around the political machinations of the city in which I live. I can choose not to watch the process, but I cannot escape the results of that process.

I am, after all, a tax payer and a citizen.  I matter.

Happy Wednesday

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