Since the federal courts have been churning out decisions that require states to recognize marriage equality, some states have been responding by being complete sacks of shit. By that, I mean that they are working on enacting legislation based on the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I mentioned Georgia’s briefly, but Indiana’s governor is about to sign SB101 into law.
Essentially the law that even laws which are neutral (requiring equality across the board) may still infringe upon someone’s right to religious freedom. It requires that the government have a compelling interest and that the law requiring equality is the least restrictive way of achieving the compelling interest. Otherwise, the religious freedoms prevail. The legal mumbo jumbo here is that the states will argue that laws related to sexual orientation don’t constitute a compelling government interest, and thus the right to religious freedom prevails.
I see it like this: A person’s sexual orientation isn’t something they can change AND it relates to the essential nature of life. Thus, it is deserving of the highest level of government protection. It boggles my mind that something that is highly variable and can change over the course of a person’s life (religion) can somehow trump human nature.
I’m disappointed that states are even considering this. However, 19 states already have laws on the books. I don’t think any of us will be surprised by most of the list:
Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana (not totally passed yet), Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
The thing that amazes me is that I don’t remember ever really walking into a store (except Christian bookstores) and thinking, “Oh, the owner must be Jewish!” “This guy is totally Christian.” Very little business actually has anything to do with religion. The cases that seem to make the most news relate to products/services related to weddings. A business owner doesn’t want to help a gay couple have a beautiful wedding day. Well buddy, fuck you too.
I don’t see how this is any different than how blacks were treated before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (and still are). Separate but equal was complete horseshit. Looking back now, it’s pretty obvious that requiring black people to eat at separate restaurants, use different restrooms, and drink from different water fountains was pretty ridiculous. I already think homophobes look really fucking ridiculous. And about 50% of the United States agrees with me.
When the history books look back on this period (well, those they use in states that teach actual history, not some weird made up version of shit), this is going to look really bad. We’re going to look like an intolerant bunch of shitheels who don’t know what’s really important in life.
The other thing that really burns me about all of this is that the United States was founded by people looking for religious freedom and who wanted a government separate from religion. Conservatives rail about Islamic terrorists and how they do their government, but let’s face it, what they’re advocating isn’t all that different. They want their religious views to take precedence over everything and they want it entwined with the government. Because for real, if Christianity were all about marriage equality, this wouldn’t even be a discussion.
One of the articles I saw about why the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts mentioned an anesthesiologist who didn’t want to participate in an abortion procedure because it went against his religious beliefs. My suggestion to him is that he find a nice Catholic hospital to work from. Religious institutions aren’t bound by the same rules as everyone else because they are inherently religious in nature. If your business isn’t, then shut your piehole.
I’d like to say that I’ll never go to Florida again because I hate that they have a law like this on the books (and because Florida is so backwards in so many ways), but my family lives there and DISNEY is there. Also, it’s not the entire state that’s fucked up. As I mentioned before, since we’ve got these laws, I’d really appreciate knowing which owners are bigoted schmucks so I know not to support them. I’d also like to know which computer system they’re using since Microsoft and Apple are both gay-friendly. And I hope they never go to Disney since they’re also pretty gay-friendly.