26 Feb Religious Liberty Laws and Gay Rights
Today gay rights and religious liberty are at odds. To promote their legal agenda, the gay rights movement has often and frequently equated itself to the civil rights movement. But are homosexual people really facing the same issues that the African-Americans faced previous to the civil rights movement. Does it really behoove government to remove the religious freedom offered in the Constitution in order to give homosexuality special legal status?
Before the civil rights movements, African-American children could not attend the same schools as white children. Children who say they are gay are attending the same schools as everyone else. In public, African-American people could not use the same restrooms as white people; they could not eat at all the same restaurants; they weren’t welcomed in many hotels; they even had separate drinking fountains, and were required to take seats at the back of the bus. It was difficult for an African-American family to go on a vacation because they may not have been able to find restaurants that would feed them or hotels or campgrounds that would let them stay and rest. Today, gay people have free use of all public restrooms. They can eat in which ever restaurant they desire. Hotels across the world allow people of the same sex to share a room with no questions asked. Drinking fountains are free for all. Vacationing is not difficult for gay couples. The civil rights movement of the 1960’s over turned bad laws and made life easier for African-Americans . Gay people are not facing the same problems. On the whole they have equal opportunities to live freely and take care of their needs. The situations of gay people in America today are really not comparable to the situations of African-Americans in earlier American history.
A bill that has passed the Arizona legislature has received national media attention. The media is touting it as a law to “bring back the ‘Jim Crow’” laws. Actually, the bill in question, SB 1062, has been written and passed not to discriminate against anyone, but to assure that freedom of religion spoken about in the first amendment is offered every citizen.
SB 1062 clarifies that the definition of “person” includes all types of businesses and legal entities. In recent years judges have not afforded private business owners first amendment protections. Opponents of religious freedom argue that for-profit businesses do not have consciences. They argue that businesses cannot operate according to sincerely held religious beliefs. Somehow, “business owner” does not translate to the “American Citizen” protected under the First Amendment.
Examples of business owners being mandated to act against their religious beliefs are numerous.
The most significant need for legal verification of religious freedom came to light during a ruling from the New Mexico Supreme Court. On August 22, 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Elane Photography stating that to compromise one’s religious beliefs is the “price of citizenship.”
If signed by the governor, SB 1062 would not make it so gay children must attend separate schools and it would not send gay people to the back of buses or require them to use special gay bathrooms. This law would assure that the business owners of Arizona have the right to work and live according to their conscience without having to pay a price.
Many other states have introduced such laws into their legislatures, but the liberal media outcry has been so intense that nearly all of these bills have died.
These bills are not there to discriminate or to bring back the “Jim Crow” laws; rather they are there to insure the protections given in the first amendment.