Why is there such a mad push between the states to legalize discrimination? There are several states that have either passed or are in the process of passing bills that basically legalize discrimination against the LGBT community. These bills all share a common theme and almost bear the same name. Arizona’s Senate Bill 1062 “Exercise of Religion”, Georgia’s House Bill 1023 “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act”, and Kansas’ House Bill 2453 “Religious Freedom Act” all check in at 3 pages of text. The text of the bills almost read exactly alike as well. Couched as bills intended to protect religious freedoms, they all have the basic effect of legalizing discrimination against the LGBT community and any other groups that people can claim some type of religious objection to serving.
My first thought is these types of bills are stupid as hell, and they are quite unconstitutional. This country has danced with discrimination several times, and discrimination has never won. Why waste time and energy doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome? This country is supposed to be all about freedom, and we all enjoy the freedoms that come with being a citizen of the United States. One may think that these laws enable freedom to express religious beliefs, but all they do is give legal cover to discriminate with impunity.
Reading the text of the bills (links provided above), they are written so broadly that they go far beyond discrimination against the LGBT community as most of the uproar has been about. Reading carefully, an EMT could legally be covered for refusing to provide emergency services to an accident victim by claiming a religious objection to providing medical services to that person. Reading Georgia’s text, it looks like one could even claim religious cover from imposing criminal or civil penalties if it interferes with the exercise of religion.
This man’s opinion is that none of these laws are necessary. There’s a simple solution to this without the need for unnecessary regulations, which I thought conservatives were against in the first place. If you don’t want to serve a particular community, then don’t enter into business with them or sign contracts to provide a service. Place a big assed sign in your front window that says who you refuse to serve due to your beliefs. There are people who will frequent your business because of that, and there are those who won’t give you a freakin’ dime. There’s no need for lawsuits or anything else. If your beliefs are true and sincere, then your God will ensure your business will succeed. If you are running afoul of your God, then I’m sure he will administer punishment for that as well. Case closed.
With these kinds of laws, it seems as though nobody thinks of the unintended consequences of enacting such legislation until those unintended consequences appear and start to bite them on the ass. In Arizona, there are three Republican Senators who voted for their law and now want the governor to veto it.
“While our sincere intent in voting for this bill was to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties, the bill has instead been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance,” the three wrote. “These allegations are causing our state immeasurable harm.”
The bill has not been mischaracterized at all. What has happened is that people are realizing the implications of the law and don’t like what they see. The business community in Arizona is already looking at lost dollars from people who are boycotting the state as a result of this law. You would think that Arizona has had enough of the controversial laws with the boycotts over the MLK holiday issue and the “papers please” law. Some people just don’t know how to leave well enough alone. Now, Georgia and Kansas Republicans are trying to outdo Arizona.
Another possible issue that may arise is that the very people who have been crying about Sharia Law may actually pave the way for it to be legally enshrined in law. All it takes is for one Muslim to have a case where they claim their religious freedoms are being violated by not being able to practice Sharia, and what can the states passing these laws do? Absolutely nothing in some cases. If you read the last sentence in Georgia’s House Bill, it reads, “All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.” That means that this law, if enacted, would supersede any previous laws on the books. There are Muslims whose sincerest religious beliefs include Sharia and all that encompasses it. The people pushing these bills are the same people who get nervous as hell when a Islamic group petitions to build or open a mosque. The law of unintended consequences can pack a mean punch when people fail to think things through.
In this day and age, we should not have elected officials who are wasting our time and money on crap like this. Discrimination has continuously been ruled unconstitutional. We went through this with slavery, women’s suffrage, and Jim Crow amongst other instances of discrimination. Why we need to do this again is beyond me. Our politicians have a habit of sticking their noses into the affairs of other sovereign nations and castigating them for discriminatory policies. Some of these same people, or their colleagues, are doing what they’ve told others not to do.
Nobody’s religion is under attack in America. There is no massive campaign to allow anyone to not express their religious beliefs. All recognized religions in this country have the same equal protection under the Constitution, and our government rightly does not advocate or prefer any one religion over the others. I don’t try to tell others how to express their religion, but I don’t think expressing your religion calls for forcing your beliefs onto other people, including those who don’t share your belief system. These politicians need to leave well enough alone.