Saturday, March 21, 2015

196.2 - Not Good News: bigots gonna be bigots

Not Good News: bigots gonna be bigots

But don't be fooled: This doesn't mean the struggle is over. Even if the Supreme Court rules as we hope it will - and as court watchers suspect it will - on same-sex marriage, that is not the only issue, as the Utah bill makes clear. Bigotry is still the default position in too many places on too many fronts.

For example, according to an Oklahoma State Senator Joseph Silk, LGBT folks don’t have a right to be served in public places if the proprietors say they have “sincerely held religious beliefs” to the contrary. Which, when you come right down to it, means they don't have a right to be served, period, because you don't need a right to be served  in a place that is happy to have you there.

He has introduced a bill that would shield businesses from lawsuits for discriminating against customers on that basis.

He openly acknowledged that LGBT people are the target of his bill, claiming that their desire to have their civil rights protected is "the primary thing that’s going to be challenging religious liberties and the freedom to live out religious convictions."

He followed that up with a statement on his campaign website that said LGBT people are "a threat to our freedoms and liberties" because they are campaigning for their civil rights.

Joseph Silk
According to Silk’s bill, businesses, including non-profits, would have the right to deny “Services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, and goods or privileges,” to anyone who offends their tender religious sensibilities. They also could refuse to provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services, while also refusing to hire a person based upon their gender or sexual orientation.

Now, that is a bill. It doesn't mean it will pass. Although this is Oklahoma we are talking about.

More to the point, Oklahoma is not the only state considering such a law.  Arkansas, Georgia, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, South Dakota, and Wyoming have recently considered or are considering similar "God gave me the right to be a bigot" bills. Not all will be successful, but it does point up the need for continued efforts for this aspect of human rights.

Even when local governments try to do the right thing, they can face obstacles from above. For example, Arkansas and Tennessee have both passed laws barring local governments from protecting LGBT people against discrimination. The Arkansas bill is new; the Tennessee law passed back in 2011.

Even though it is clear what these bills are about - for example, the Arkansas bill came about because the town of Fayetteville, AR tried to extend civil rights protections to gays and lesbians last year - lawmakers in both states claim the measures will withstand constitutional challenge because they don't specifically single out LGBT people.

Even so, that challenge may come fairly soon: Officials in Little Rock are reported to be thinking about passing a gay and lesbian civil rights ordinance anyway, which could form the basis of a lawsuit to challenge the state law.

But here's the thing, the thing to remember. Look at this map. The states in dark green have as least some legal protections for LGBT people. Those in light green have at least some protections for lesbians and gays but not for transgender folks. In all those other states, all that field of white, there are no legal protections. You can be fired for being gay. You can be denied service in a restaurant if you are lesbian. You can be kicked out of a store if you are transgender. You can be denied housing, denied services, denied employment - and under state law it's all legal. Federal law provides some limited protection, but a far as state law goes, you got bupkus.

Yes, we are winning on same sex marriage and yes there is progress - just consider the Mormon Church and the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council. That doesn't mean there isn't more to do.

Sources cited in links:

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');