The Arizona state legislature recently passed a law which would allow businesses the right to refuse service to gay people based upon their religious convictions. Aside from some of the more obvious issues (How do you know for sure if a customer is gay? Can you ask them?), the legality and morality of the bill has been under intense public and media scrutiny. The pressure is on Arizona now to see where it stands in the history of civil rights.
While Governor Jan Brewer (who, for the record, I rather dislike) has the power to veto the bill, and it's even come under fire from three Republican state senators who voted for the damn thing, I have to admit to some astonishment that it's even come this far. This is Arizona. It's not a state of the Old South. I guess my expectations were perhaps too high. Regardless, we're in the year 2014 AD. Isn't our society supposed to be beyond such discrimination and segregation?
Of course, one reason for my astonishment would now appear to be our main hope in seeing the anti-gay bill's demise: greed. See, I'd always assumed that the love of money would triumph someone's morals. It seems to have so far, at least in the last half-century or so. Businesses and lawmakers are too desperate for dollars to try and pass discriminatory legislation. Or so I thought. There seems to be a corporate backlash occurring at the moment, something which -- oddly -- appears to be taking Arizona lawmakers by surprise. But at least it's got their attention.
I can't help but shake my head at how a non-theocratic country seems to have a desire to enshrine religious intolerance into its laws of late. Take the state laws allowing pharmacists the right to refuse to sell the morning-after pill, for example, due to their religious sensibilities. Why is that? Does a bookstore clerk who, due to religious reasons, doesn't want to sell a tome written by Sean Hannity because they disagree with him (on religious grounds) also have the right to do so? What about the bed & breakfast owners who don't want to rent to gay couples? How about Muslim business owners who don't want to serve Christians or Jews?
Obviously, this is getting ridiculous. We live in a world with other people. Often, other people are different than we are. It's high time we got over that. Here in the U.S., we don't live in a theocracy, so our religious views (or views that we couch in religion) are not supposed to be legislated, especially not for discriminatory purposes. Look, people, just do your jobs. If you want, go home after work and rant & rave about the gays, blacks, Muslims, Jews, promiscuous heathens, foreigners and whoever else pisses off your insecure little brains, if that makes you feel any better.
It probably won't, though. Bigotry, like still waters, runs deep. And it's hard for anything to help a person feel better about it. They still have to live with themselves, after all.