Imagine (or in my case, remember) for a moment that you are a lady driver. You're driving through the desert in Arizona. Nothing around you. Kind of looks like a scene from The Hills Have Eyes. You don't have enough gas to make it to where you're going. You happen to see a little gas station on the road. Perfect!
You pull in. You get out. It's nine billion degrees. You go in and the station is owned and run by a man who practices a form of Islam known as Wahhabism, popular in Saudi Arabia. You ask to have your car filled up. He takes one look at you, one look at your car and refuses to fill your tank up. Because according to his religious and personal beliefs, women shouldn't be allowed to drive cars.
So now you're stuck in the middle of nowhere, Arizona, with no gas. Or, rather, plenty of gas and a man who simply doesn't want to sell you any because of his "deeply held religious beliefs."
Sounds a little crazy right? Probably won't ever happen? Well if Arizona passes SB 1062 that would allow public businesses to openly discriminate (particularly against LGBT people) on the basis of "deeply held religious beliefs," which it seems like they might, why not?
Oh, I know. That little bit of legislation isn't about women! It's about gays! Duh! It's about good, God-fearing, Bible believing Christians who follow the Bible word for word -- aside from the whole stoning people to death and owning slaves and selling rape victims to their rapists thing -- and believe selling a cake, or taking photographs of gay couples goes against their religion. Right? It's all about the gays!
Wrong. Legally mandating the allowance of any kind of discrimination based on something as fluid and open-ended as a personal religious belief is not only wrong on every level, it opens the door to all sorts of discrimination in the name of Jesus. Or Allah. Or Yahweh. Or Xenu. And what the proponents of such legislation don't understand is that while they're simply targeting the gays -- something they will never be so they don't have to worry about the legal discrimination harming THEM -- this law can legalize discrimination against anyone for multiple reasons if they aren't careful.
For example. Crazy white supremacist owns a wedding venue. An interracial couple wants to get married there. White supremacist owner can deny doing business with them on the basis of his deeply held religious belief that God didn't want races mixing. He could refer to his belief of the curse of Ham. Think no person would be terrible enough to use the Bible to justify racial discrimination? Check out the Appleby Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas. I bet their parishioners would just love to legally discriminate in the name of Jesus and not get sued for it. And if they lived in Arizona, they could if this bill passed.
A Jewish man with a yarmulke walks into a devoutly Christian cake maker's bakery and requests a cake for his son's bar mitzvah. Cake baker turns him down because hey, didn't you hear, the Jews killed Jesus, and she doesn't serve people who not only don't believe Jesus is the son of God, but that identify themselves in the same group who killed Jesus! How could she willingly make a cake for a man who sins every single day by simply NOT BELIEVING IN JESUS? Why should she be forced to make a cake celebrating the SIN of not believing in Jesus?
A woman comes into a clothing store where an Orthodox Jewish man is working at the register. She wants to buy a knee length skirt and a t-shirt. The Orthodox man refuses to sell her the clothes because hey, women should be modest and he doesn't want to participate in the promotion of this sin. Every other employee is on break or helping another customer. Sorry lady, my religious belief -- as out there and personal as it may be -- trumps your right to walk into a store and buy something without being singled out for being a sinner.
Or what if a Christian man with deep religious beliefs strictly follows 1 Timothy 2:12? He owns a restaurant. A woman who happens to own a business that has several male employees comes in to eat with said employees. He turns her away because no woman, according to his religion, should have authority over a man and this woman is FLAUNTING her authority over her male coworkers in front of everyone! Why should this restaurant owner be forced to participate in this blatant mocking of his God? In this sin? Hey, this woman and her male employees can live their lives however they please, okay, but just don't go shoving it down people's throats!
The likelihood of any of these scenarios playing out is slim to none. And to any sane person, they all sound hilariously stupid. But the point is, if we cater to those who are anti-LGBT and legally allow them to discriminate at will against gay people in the name of Jesus (or whomever), it's opening the door for discrimination of all kinds to be legally justified and accepted in the name of religion and is just as insane and stupid as those other scenarios. I'm sorry, religious freedoms only go so far. You can't murder someone as a sacrifice to God and then claim your religious liberties are being violated when you're arrested. You can't marry a 13-year-old girl because your personal interpretation of The Bible instructs you to lest you burn in hell. You can't do illegal things in the name of religion and get a pass because of religious rights. And you can't discriminate against someone while providing a public accommodation and expect to get by in the name of God.
This law isn't about freedom of religion or deeply held beliefs, it's about animus toward gay people and the desire to discriminate against them without getting in trouble. Plain and simple. Discrimination in the name of God or religion is still discrimination whether your God conveniently, like you, hates women, blacks, immigrants, liberals, the Red Sox (that one I'm on the fence about. Just kidding. Kind of.), Jews, atheists, left-handed folks or gays. And last I checked, in this country, the one thing history has taught us and gotten right is that discrimination is wrong regardless of what group it's being used on. It can never and should never succeed. No amount of blessings from Jesus can change the fact that it is wrong and should remain illegal in every instance.