Hate is a dish, best served… never! Hate is nothing new and institutionalized bigotry isn’t either. What I always fail to understand is why people carry around so much hatred and put so much energy into limiting the liberties of others.
I have read a few articles on SB1062, Arizona’s bill allowing businesses to discriminate against the LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans) community and I think all parties involved are simply acting idiotic. Some people have referred to them as the Jim Crow laws of the twenty-first century and others are miffed about such a comparison. The short version, Jim Crow laws forced segregation and discrimination whereas this law gives people the right to discriminate. So the way that this law works is different. That being said, hate is hate. Jim Crow laws were unconstitutional pillars of hate, institutionalized and enforced by the government. In this way, they are very much the same. Other people are saying that this is just ‘the gays’ getting huffy about something that is more along the line of, ‘no shoes, no shirt, no service.’ Of course, people generally choose to wear these articles of clothing, and being gay is not a choice. I don’t care who you are or what special insight you have – it isn’t. Get off this argument; it has been done to death.
What I cannot understand is how a country that stands for something so wonderful can continually go so very askew. I hear more and more about public schools expelling LGBT students, or how Alabama is forcing public schools to have fifteen minutes of Christian prayers every morning (see links below). The hypocrisy feels sharp, and cuts me as if I had this forced on me. What happened to the separation of church and state? (A foundation this country was built on, might I add.) I am not anti-Christian, and I would have no issue if Christian students wanted to pray while in school, but I have a problem when it is forced on everyone, because not everyone in this country is Christian. When I was in high school, we said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in homeroom. I was the only person in my homeroom that did not stand and recite it. Why? It was my choice. Everyone who wanted to was allowed to do so, and anyone who didn’t was not required to. Simple. It did not offend me, but this was back in 2002 when the LGBT community started to become a political hot button and the stand I was taking was not to participate in something that allowed institutionalized hate of any kind (to be seventeen and so blissfully unaware again, sigh). I lived in Nebraska, one of the first states to ratify its constitution (in 2000) so that it would not recognize any same-sex relationship. The amendment was such a blunder it had to be rewritten because it actually made it difficult for two people of the same sex to enter into any kind of contract, when taken literally. (If you were a woman, your roommate had to be a man, a lease is a contract – imagine how well that went over.)
What gets me about Arizona is not that some people can be so hateful, even though I cannot understand how they can function weighted down by such horridness, but that so many people can be this way. I thought this was primarily out-of-touch legislators until I read a lot of the back-and-forth going around forums. So, I am about to tick off a lot of liberals. Let them pass the bill. Why? The first reason is that I believe this will be the push the United States seems to need, to add sexual orientation to federal anti-discrimination laws, granting LGBT people the same protections that is afforded to race, religion and gender. Talk about an efficient way to save a lot of future headaches and squabbles. And if you have read any of my posts before this one, you know how much I love efficiency.
What would be a second reason? Sit back and watch the fall out. I do not believe this bill is representative of how most Republicans feel. It is unfortunate that a small faction has seized control simply because they yell the loudest and act like bullies, throwing passive-aggressive tantrums, but that what the party has become. I believe if the Governor of Arizona does not veto the bill there will be major backlash against the Republican Party, both locally and nationally. Most people under the age of forty will not stand for such blatant hate (at least not the majority). I don’t want the GOP to crumble, but I think the small faction of extremists that has taken control needs to be overthrown. They give a bad name to Republicans everywhere. The only reason the Governor of Kansas vetoed a very similar bill was the ramifications it would have on the party on a grand scale and that was less than two weeks ago.
I sometimes fall into the trap of boxing Republicans together and when I am about to hear a Republican opinion, I sometimes roll my eyes, catch myself and listen. Boxing Republicans together and acting (or even worse, believing) that any member of the GOP is automatically a hate monger is just as faulty as any other prejudice is. Republicans, conservatives and very religious people are a great number of individuals that come together to form large groups. The viewpoint of one is not the viewpoint of all. When it comes to laws like these or past pissing contests (government shutdown anyone?) a small group of extremists have taken the podium, and the true majority needs to take that podium back.
It is the same with Christians. I am not religious; I’m not sure what I am. I am a recovering Catholic who was burned by rigid and hateful religious doctrine that I could not accept. Forced for years to attend, participate and bite my tongue, I finally stopped the tongue biting at age fourteen. After that my parents felt it was safer to let me stay at home or worry about me interrupting a fire and brimstone sermon. But, I do believe in something, even if I do not know what that something is. I believe in being a good person, not because of karma, but because it is the right thing to do. I believe that hate and bitterness cannot coexist with peace and happiness and I choose to be happy. I know a great deal of awesome Christians. They are not ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’, a dysfunctional practice at best, but the true believers. Those who live their lives as best they can and do not judge. My mother-in-law is one of these true Christians. She is not perfect, but she tries and she is a good person with a big heart. I am not one for organized religion because I am not for condemnation. But the beautiful parts of religion: faith, hope, love, selflessness and charity are all wonderful things. And I do have to say, I love the new Pope. I never thought I would say that about a church official, but he seems like the real deal, another true Christian.
When it comes to Arizona SB 1062, should it pass, I think business owners will be in for a rude awakening. When it comes to my money, I refuse to spend a penny at a business that discriminates against a group of people, even if the group is the majority. If they are against gays, lesbians, straight people, men, women, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, black, white, Latino, Native American, Asian, able-bodied people, people with disabilities (you get the point, so I’ll stop here, but could go on) I am not interested. Period. There are several businesses that are simply interested in business, not the personal lives of their consumers or clients. Just like church and state, business and personal beliefs should be separate (unless your job requires you to be terrible to a certain group, in which case look for another line of work). I don’t think I am the minority in this thinking. I know many allies of the LGBT community who are sick over this and in many cases the most outspoken against it. Again, most businesses have too much competition and this just gives the competition that caters to everyone, an advantage.
Then there is the fact that LGBT people as consumers, have quite a bit of buying power. The community accounts for roughly 15% of the population in this country (a conservative number) and are a powerful yet untapped consumer group. Studies have shown that gay people moving into a neighborhood raises property values and just from the places I have lived in, many open LGBT people who are active in the community seem very well off. As a business owner, wouldn’t I want the clients who can afford to keep coming back and who most of my competitors overlook? Maybe, I got it wrong, I was thinking business equals growth and increasing revenue – I didn’t realize I should always cross reference the Good Book in my dealings. If this bill passes, I think business owners are going to learn this the hard way and quickly change their tunes.
I believe the Jan Brewer (the Governor of Arizona) will veto the bill, simply because it will damage the party as a whole, and many figures within the GOP are starting to figure that out (again Kansas, not to mention many key figures like Romney and McCain are urging Brewer to veto SB 1062). I just wish people would stop and ask themselves why they are doing this. Many people use God as an excuse, but all they are doing is picking a passage or two and forgetting the rest of what the Bible has to say, such as God being the only judge and treating others with kindness. I am no expert, but I can say with absolute confidence that whatever deity you believe in, being a good person and treating others with human decency and an open heart is far more important than any crusade against something (whether it is misguided or not). I am thankful that most of the Christians I know are of the genuine variety (a stark contrast to growing up) and most of the Republicans I know do not support institutionalized bigotry.
To be anti-gay, anti-women, anti-Christian, anti-black, anti-Latino, anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish, anti-men, anti-white, anti-Buddhist, anti-liberal, anti-conservative, anti-Democrat, anti-Republican or anti-(insert any other group of people here) is to be anti-human. People are different and these differences should be celebrated (yes, even when it comes to conservative viewpoints) rather than persecuted. Wake up America, the rest of the world is waiting.