Arizona’s Anti-Gay Law: What’s So Wrong?

Why on earth is everyone so bent out of shape about the Arizona “Anti-Gay” bill? (I’m going to stop calling it that now because the bill actually has nothing to do with sexual orientation)

Lets say I own a photography studio.  One day a family comes in and wants to do portraits.  Great, the more business the better right?  We sit down and start filling out the forms and laying out the plan for what shots they’d like and with whom.  Then the daughter chimes in “I want Snickers in the picture”.  “Who’s Snickers?” I ask.  “She’s our family cat” replies the father, looking up from filling out forms.  I look back at him and say “I’m sorry, I have a policy that I don’t do pictures with cats.  I won’t be able to do your photos”.

Done right?  End of discussion.  I don’t like cats and therefore don’t provide services for cat people.  It’s an accepted fact and the family takes their business elsewhere.

So a law that protects people who wish to choose who they serve and don’t serve based on their “religious beliefs” doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to me.  After all, it’s their right to choose whether to make money or not right?  You don’t see pet owners protesting every time they can’t take their dog into the Hilton or smokers lining up because they can’t smoke in restaurants anymore.  To me the only thing missing is one simple requirement that any organization or individual refusing services to a particular individual must have pre-published a formal statement of religiously held beliefs, posted on the door and website.  Done.  Just like an apartment who says “no pets” or a resort that says “no children”, you’re aware of the restrictions on services ahead of time.

Now I understand for homosexuals this is a lot more personal than me not being able to take my dog into a hotel.  The extreme I’ve heard people go to is bordering on “The Purge” for gay people.  Policemen wouldn’t respond to calls, hospitals wouldn’t provide services, and firemen would just watch homes burn.  I chose to ignore the news and blogs and all the other non-sense that really blew this way more out of proportion than it needed to be and I went to the source, reading the bill and subsequent existing laws it was effecting.  The bill (SB1062) is expounding upon the definitions of an already existing law titled “Free Exercise of Religion Protected” which would now allow individuals the same protection as a religious organization.  It actually only ads about a dozen words and doesn’t say anything about homosexuals.

Where I think people get bent out of shape the most is when they imagine their own biases going to the farthest extreme.  It goes well beyond homosexuality.  Individuals could refuse service for any social, cultural, or even ethnic difference all under the guise of “religion”.  Muslims no longer have to serve Christians.  Christians no longer have to serve Atheists.  And the Amish no longer have to sell furniture to anyone who drives a car.  (For the love of humanity, won’t anyone think about the tables!)

The flaw in the argument comes down to judgment based on perception.  A gay couple asking for two brides to be placed on the top of a cake seems pretty concrete, but how will a restaurant know to deny services unless they ask?  Even then, you don’t have to answer.  What happens when a “Guys Night Out” stops at Chik-Fil-A?  Will they get kicked out because there’s not an equal amount of women with them?

My personal thought is pass the law.  Then pass another one to protect LGBTQ people from serious harm like not getting police protection.  Then let the consumers sort it out.  If advertising that your store won’t serve homosexuals helps you financially, more power to you.  I don’t think it will, but let’s let capitalism sort it out.  I strongly believe that our nation has come a long way because of the Civil Rights movement.  I don’t see us being thrown back into the dark ages of segregation where gay people won’t be able to order a pizza or go to Great Clips.  But right now taking someone to court who doesn’t want to provide you with a service seems like reverse bigotry and discrimination.  The attention will most likely benefit them more in the long-run than if just left alone (aka, Chik-Fil-A’s banner year).  And if you want protection for your beliefs, shouldn’t the same be given to others?

Sources:

http://www.azleg.gov/SearchResults.asp?SearchPhrase=1493&Scope=%2Fars%2F41&SearchedFrom=%2FArizonaRevisedStatutes.asp&x=28&y=8

http://www.azleg.gov//FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/51leg/2r/bills/sb1062p.htm&Session_ID=112

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