Not Cease from Exploration

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Arizona's pending "it's okay to discriminate" law

A pending law is sitting on the desk of Arizona governor Jan Brewer that would basically segregate that state's society into two groups:  those who are gay and those who are not.  Details HERE.

Now on one hand, I conceptually believe that business owners should be free to do business with whomever they like.  However, the concept part of that just doesn't work in the real world.  Why?  Because the moment you allow someone to say "I don't like them folks, therefore I can treat them differently" to one group, you basically open it up to any and every group that is different than the business owner.

For example, a baker who believes strongly that black folks are cursed by God doesn't want to serve any African-American customers.  Would that be okay under Arizona's pending law?  It certainly opens the door to it being acceptable.  Mind you, the scenario I just presented isn't science fiction, as there are such groups in existence right now (see HERE for an example).  What's more, the whole pending Arizona law makes it every more wretched, as the business owner may not even have a way to knowing whether a customer is gay.  It's as if the customers will have to provide papers documenting their sexuality before someone will do business with them.

Now what about religious liberty?  Hey, I'm all for that; worship how and what you want, as long as it doesn't interfere with anyone else.  If you make the choice to believe one part of the Christian Bible (the whole "men don't lie down with men" part) but then choose to ignore other parts of the Christian Bible (pick'm:  don't eat pork, don't eat shellfish, you can kill your wife if you find out she wasn't a virgin when you got married, tax collectors are evil, it's virtually impossible for rich folks to go to heaven, you can own slaves...and the list goes on and on and on) then that's your business.  It becomes society's business though when those beliefs interfere with the lives of others.

In the end, American society isn't predicated on a specific belief system.  If it was, and that belief system was that of Fundamentalist Christianity, then the name "Jesus Christ" would be mentioned at least once in our founding documents.  But the problem is that said name isn't.  American society is, instead, predicated on the notion that everyone should be given a shot in life to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Our founding fathers noted that those rights come from the "Creator", and as a result were not subject to subjugation by man (not even the state government of Arizona).  Period.  No one doing business in the public square of America should have the right to say "my rights are better than yours".

Here's to hoping that Arizona's governor vetoes this ill conceived justification for discrimination.

I'll end this by posting something that George Takei wrote on this topic.  You can link directly to it HERE.



Dear Arizona,
Congratulations. You are now the first state actually to pass a bill permitting businesses–even those open to the public–to refuse to provide service to LGBT people based on an individual’s “sincerely held religious belief.” This “turn away the gay” bill enshrines discrimination into the law. Your taxi drivers can refuse to carry us. Your hotels can refuse to house us. And your restaurants can refuse to serve us.
Kansas tried to pass a similar law, but had the good sense to not let it come up for a vote. The quashing came only after the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and other traditional conservative groups came out strongly against the bill.
But not you, Arizona. You’re willing to ostracize and marginalize LGBT people to score political points with the extreme right of the Republican Party. You say this bill protects “religious freedom,” but no one is fooled. When I was younger, people used “God’s Will” as a reason to keep the races separate, too. Make no mistake, this is the new segregation, yours is a Jim Crow law, and you are about to make yourself ground zero.
This bill also saddens me deeply. Brad and I have strong ties to Arizona. Brad was born in Phoenix, and we vacation in Show Low. We have close friends and relatives in the state and spend weeks there annually. We even attended the Fourth of July Parade in Show Low in 2012, looking like a pair of Arizona ranchers.
The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon. But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this. They also know that it is going to be struck down eventually by the courts. But they passed it anyway, just to make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear.
So let me make mine just as clear. If your Governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know–from large corporations to small families on vacation–to boycott. Because you don’t deserve our dollars. Not one red cent.
And maybe you just never learn. In 1989, you voted down recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday, and as a result, conventions and tourists boycotted the state, and the NFL moved the Superbowl to Pasadena. That was a $500 million mistake.
So if our appeals to equality, fairness, and our basic right to live in a civil society without doors being slammed in our face for being who we are don’t move you, I’ll bet a big hit to your pocketbook and state coffers will.
George Takei

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