Words cannot describe the relief I felt upon finding out that Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill that would have allowed business owners to refuse service to the LGBT population. You see, if Arizona passed the bill, I would have to start looking for a new country to emigrate to, because I refuse to live in one that makes discrimination legal. I shared some of my sentiments on Facebook and got immediately challenged by a friend of mine, who felt that by vetoing the bill the government prevented the business owners from expressing their religious freedom.
Now, I know the said friend well enough to feel positive that he doesn’t have anything against LGBT folks and that he is a pretty open-minded guy. He doesn’t like the government poking its nose into people’s private business and for that matter, neither do I. My friend’s comments made me think long and hard – yes, if I owned a shop, wouldn’t I expect to live by “my shop, my rules”? Of course I would! I’m all about self-determination, as people close to me know only too well. But I can’t help it; in this particular case, even though I do get where my friend was coming from, I feel that if sacrificing a little bit of my freedom would serve higher good, so be it.
I won’t even get into musings about how exactly would the whole thing work anyway, it’s too absurd. But let me ask you this: How long would it take before the idea would spread beyond stores and restaurants? I have a suspicion that it would snowball very quickly, considered how many religious fundamentalists we have in this otherwise wonderful country! And I personally wouldn’t want to live to see doctors arguing that they have a private practice and therefore are not obligated to treat anyone whose values are different from their own.
Even if we, for the sake of the discussion, stick with businesses like stores and restaurants, the implementation of such a bill is still problematic. Because it starts with the LGBT population as a precedent and then what? I remember a gentleman who had a speech on campus in the beginning of the school year and who was there to inform us about all the populations that will go to Hell unless they repent and accept Jesus as their savior. I don’t remember EVERYTHING that was on his board – I was just passing by – but I recall seeing Muslims, feminists, creationists, Buddhists, vegetarians (you really have to wonder!), and people who listen to heavy metal. So if a bill like this passes, what stops business owners to start excluding pretty much everybody who is not a Christian fundamentalist!?
My friend suggested that nothing would prevent me to simply boycott such businesses as a customer. But that’s all and well in the city or the suburbs! What about rural areas where there is often a handful of stores and restaurants in town and everybody knows everybody? If you are labeled as an undesirable, you might quite well find out that you are not able to eat out anymore – and let’s face it, in some more conservative areas it’s more than likely to happen.
I’m sorry, but no matter how carefully I’m pondering this, I see only a further spread of discrimination and religious hatred.
And what really got under my skin was an argument that just like we are free to do what we please with our bodies, we should be able to do the same with our businesses! I hit the roof before finishing reading the sentence. Are we REALLY free to do what we see fit with our bodies?! I beg to differ. For example an individual who finds himself suffering from a terminal illness accompanied by an unbearable amount of pain and suffering is going to find out very quickly that it’s not up to him to decide how much of said pain and suffering he is willing to bear. No, sir, that’s currently up to the government and the government says no, no matter what one’s religious convictions are. So if you are, say, an agnostic who doesn’t give a crap about what the Bible has to say on this topic and doesn’t believe that there is God who would penalize people for choosing a way out when the suffering becomes truly unbearable, it doesn’t do you any good whatsoever.
And who are the folks so opposed to people making their own choice in this matter?!
You got it – mainly the conservative religious right. So the people who are demanding the right to make their own choices about whom to serve as business owners are the very same people who are consistently working on restricting other people’s rights to do whatever they choose with their body, mind, and spirit. Euthanasia is, admittedly, an extreme example (it’s just that as a former nurse I feel strongly about it); but consider women’s reproductive rights! Or the fact that in the South it’s common for PUBLIC schools to forbid teaching the evolution theory or sex ed that is not based on abstinence – in PUBLIC schools funded by PUBLIC money! So I can’t help but see a double-standard here: If religious fundamentalists are so concerned about having the freedom to make choices based on their religion, shouldn’t they also be willing to give others the same freedom?
And since they have proven too many times that they are not, I say that the government has a duty to protect minorities whose lives are already difficult enough as it is! Howgh.