Gay discrimination laws: Bring it on

Posted on 21 Feb 2014 at 7:55am

Several state Legislatures are trying to pass anti-gay legislation that would give bigots the right to discriminate based on their religious beliefs

Taffet, DavidThe Arizona Senate passed a bill this week to allow businesses to refuse to serve gays and lesbians based on owners’ “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

Supporters said the bill isn’t about discrimination but about preventing discrimination against people who are living their faith.

Similar bills in Kansas, Tennessee and Idaho are floating around their Legislatures, too.

Last week, the Kansas House passed a bill offering legal protections to individuals and businesses that refuse service to gays and lesbians.

That bill goes so far as to allow government workers to refuse service based on their religious beliefs.

So, a firefighter could refuse to put out a blaze if he thought the homeowner was gay or an EMT could decide not to save a lesbian’s life, all in the name of deeply held religious beliefs.

The sponsor again believes he’s protecting religious people from discrimination by gays.

How do I feel about these laws?

I say, bring it on.

The resulting U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down these clearly unconstitutional laws will give the LGBT community more rights than those moral con artists ever thought of taking away.

When word got out about what was going on in the Kansas Legislature, the president of the Senate announced that a majority of Republicans would not support the bill as written, and the House version wouldn’t go to the Senate floor.

Well perhaps not that version of discrimination, but another version will.

Bring it on.

The Tennessee bill focuses on wedding vendors, allowing them to deny service to same-sex couples having a ceremony. I never understood why a couple would want homophobic religious extremists to profit off their weddings and turn the event into something miserable.

But even this legislated discrimination is unconstitutional. Imagine that same law allowing white florists to refuse to provide flowers to a black couple marrying. Or a Catholic baker to refuse to provide a cake for a Baptist wedding. Or anyone refusing to rent a hall to a disabled couple.

So, bring it on.

Idaho’s proposed legislation was the best.

That state’s new measure would allow teachers to throw gay students out of class. Stores, theaters, a police station or doctors could put up a “No gays allowed” sign.

Doctors? Doesn’t the American Medical Association require nondiscriminatory treatment of patients under threat of losing his or her license? Well, this bill takes care of that.

And how about those pesky nondiscrimination laws already passed by Idaho municipalities? This law takes care of them as well.
Bring it on.

Where does that law stand? Enough people in Idaho expressed such outrage that its sponsor withdrew the measure with a face-saving statement of reserving a right to re-introduce the measure.

Awww.

These laws don’t just violate the recent Windsor decision that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act or even Lawrence v. Texas that struck down the sodomy laws.

These laws violate Romer v. Evans, the first pro-LGBT decision issued in 1996 that struck down a Colorado state constitutional amendment, preventing cities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances offering protection based on sexual orientation. The ruling stated those laws didn’t pass the rational basis test under the Equal Protection Clause.

These laws are a desperate, last-ditch attempt to stop same-sex marriage in those states.

Since December, federal judges in Ohio, Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia have ruled those state’s marriage bans unconstitutional and the opposition has run out of any rational or legal argument against marriage equality.

Four couples sued Idaho this week for the right to marry, asking the judge to make a ruling without a trial based on recent federal court rulings elsewhere. Hence the proposed anti-gay legislation.

Four couples sued Arizona in January challenging Arizona’s definition of marriage as only between one man and one woman.

Hence the new legislation.

In Tennessee, four couples sued the state for marriage equality in October.

At least that state’s legislation only addresses the impending marriages that might begin before the end of this year, if the courts don’t delay the suit.

So as these laws have suddenly cropped up, why haven’t we heard anything from the crazies in Texas trying to pass bigoted, unconstitutional laws?

Because in Texas, our Legislature isn’t in session and won’t be this year, unless Gov. Rick Perry sees the impending danger of same-sex marriage and calls a special session.

Would a special session of the Texas Legislature actually pass such a law?

I say bring it on.

The Supreme Court decision striking down these laws will implement employment nondiscrimination as well as marriage equality nationwide. Sexual orientation and gender identity will be added as categories that receive heightened scrutiny.

And those people who would like to continue to discriminate within their own churches will be perfectly free to do so. But as much as I dislike these people, I won’t be able to discriminate against them in public accommodation or jobs any more than they will be allowed to discriminate against me.

David Taffet is a staff writer at Dallas Voice. He can be reached at taffet@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 21, 2014.

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