Monday, February 24, 2014

The Modern-Day Jim Crowe Laws: Are You Aware of What is Happening?

Let’s start off with some back story here: The Arizona legislature has passed a bill that would allow businesses to refuse service to certain groups of people on the grounds of religious beliefs and not be sued in court for discrimination. It is primarily targeted towards same-sex couples, but it has the potential to open Pandora’s box of people to discriminate against. People could say, if this bill passes, that they refuse to serve single women or people of different religions. The bill is now awaiting Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision on whether or not the bill will come to existence. Other states are attempting to bring measures like this into fruition.

I find time to be slowly rewinding as we dive into discrimination once more. Bills like these make me wonder if they are modern Jim Crowe laws. I can just see a sign hanging in a window that says, “NO GAYS ALLOWED,” and people would be okay with this? Surely something is wrong here. Will the struggle for LGBTQ civil rights parallel the African-American civil rights movement? It is not to say that they are exactly the same, but I believe fighting for civil rights has a very interesting pattern.

Please ask: What kind of religion is being “protected” here? If a person who practices voodoo stops selling cars to Christians, citing religious freedom, is he still protected under this bill? I am willing to argue that those who set this bill on would be offended if they were ever refused service because of “religious reasons.” It saddens me to see in a world full of progressive thought and movement that there are people still trying to go back to the past.

I keep wondering if this bill has any grounds for being acceptable, and I find my moderate views struggling with both sides of the issue. On one hand, I do feel that business owners should be able to serve who they want to serve without fear of retaliation, because, after all, it is THEIR business. At the same time, I find discrimination like this to be morally wrong and hypocritical of the religions that I am most familiar with; furthermore, as a member of the LGBTQ community, it really bothers me that the government could back this kind of discrimination. I do suppose, that people who cite religion as a mean for discrimination have a point… Obviously, LGBTQ people go against their beliefs. Maybe they don’t want that imposed upon them. But at the same time, the LGBTQ community is a minority group that has been shunned, hated, feared, and persecuted. Perhaps conservatives are fighting for “freedom of religion,” but LGBTQ folks are fighting to be treated as humans, as individuals, as equals. We haven’t even been recognized as equals yet and we are already on the way to get discriminated against.


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