Between 1876 and 1965 racial segregation laws, Jim Crow Laws, were enacted at state and local levels in the United States. African Americans were seen as “separate but equal”. In 1964 these “laws” were overruled by the Civil Rights Act. In July 1964 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act which included a “commerce clause” that made discrimination in public accommodations such as privately owned restaurants, stores, hotels, private schools, and workplaces illegal.
Fast forward to present day Arizona where Governor Jan Brewer must decide whether or not to sign into law legislation that would give business owners the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers if they can assert it is contrary to their religious beliefs. I have a lot of questions about this beyond the obvious. The “obvious” is the fact that this tramples all over the civil rights of the gays. The Civil Rights Act does not apply only to African Americans. It applies to ALL Americans.
Of more concern to me is the question of how a business owner would know a person was gay. The implication is that gays somehow look different or are obviously different in some observable way. Since any conscious person would realize this is far from true this leaves business owners the freedom to claim anyone that offends their religious views is gay; unless of course the next step would require gays and lesbians to identify their sexual preferences in some way. That thought took me a step further.
In Nazi Germany Jews were required to wear yellow stars sewn on their clothing and visible at all times to identify themselves as “different”. Will we require gays and lesbians to wear pink stars so business owners can be absolutely sure they are not contaminating their religious beliefs by interacting with homosexuals? Perhaps the solution will be internment camps such as those used for Japanese-Americans during WWII.
There seems to be a perception that gays don’t have religious beliefs. It is beyond belief that anyone would consider because a person has different gender preferences he doesn’t 1) believe in God, 2) practice a religion, 3) have the same rights and freedoms as every other American.
To sign this into legislation will take us back almost 50 years. It will undoubtedly be challenged and it should be. This is one more thing that will tie up legislators while other issues are left to flounder. I would think in this poor economy business owners can’t afford to turn anyone away. Let’s spend our time looking at education, the economy, homelessness, and a dozen other high priority issues rather than create an issue that is ridiculous on the front end and dangerous in the long run.