In a great article over The American Independent, Andry Birkey has a story up about a new religious right campaign under way in several states that would make it illegal for local Governments to enact anti-discrimination legislation that differs from the State laws. Th intent is obvious:
The Human Rights Campaign estimates that more than 160 communities have enacted comprehensive anti-discrimination laws, and dozens more have enacted incomplete ordinances that leave out the transgender community or that only provide limited protections.
But under proposals by Republicans in several states, such ordinances in Lawrence, Kans., Missoula, Mont., and Kalamazoo, Mich., would be illegal.
Bills in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Michigan would bar local governments from enacting laws that prevent discrimination against any group not already covered by that state’s own nondiscrimination laws. Montana’s House passed a similar bill last year, but it died in the Senate.
The article goes on to note what occurred in both Tennessee and Montana; with the former passing just such a law in response to the Government of Nashville adding sexual orientation under the anti-discrimination umbrella and the latter trying to pass a similar bill and failing (because the anti-gay animus of the bill was out in the open when people like Himes testified in favor).
As you’ll notice when you read the article, almost of all this assault against the LGBT community is cloaked in the language of “religious freedom”. The Bill in Kansas carries the Orwellian title of the “Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act” and one of the primary coalitions backing the bill, the Kansas Catholic Conference, has this to say about it:
“We believe that HB 2260 is necessary as a bulwark against an alarming development in the interpretation and application of the First Amendment,” the group wrote. “Increasingly, freedom of religion is being reduced and confined to little more than the freedom to worship in a private setting. Religious institutions should also be allowed to operate with integrity, and to pursue their ministries, without undue burdens being placed upon them by government. Opponents of a state religious freedom law have been busy making the inaccurate claim that it would legalize discrimination. To the contrary, a state religious freedom law would help prevent discrimination, namely government-sanctioned discrimination against people of faith.”
In Michigan, where Republicans are working to Amend the Elliot-Larson Civil Rights Act to ensure no more groups are added to the anti-discrimination laws on the books, we find a similar thread:
He said it protects religious groups from the “discrimination and persecution they’ve regularly suffered under so-called ‘gay rights’ laws such as passed in a handful of Michigan cities.”
The only thing any of these “Christians” have suffered of course, is having to do business with people in the LGBT community. That’s it. No one is forcing them to believe anything. No one is forcing their Churches to change their stance or practices. The only thing they’re being “forced” to do is allow members of the LGBT community an equal chance at having a decent life by not turning them away for an employment opportunity or a place to live solely on basis of their sexual orientation. But to these “Christians” that’s an assault on their beliefs. Which perfectly illustrates just how warped some strains of Christianity have truly become. They presume that freedom of conscience means that they have the freedom to impose their conscience on the rest of us. And not only that, they’ve taken a religious tradition that, at its core, is about love and forgiveness and warped it into an ideology of hate and exclusivity. I assume in their version of the Bible, Jesus tells to the tax collectors and sinners to go to hell when they ask for help.
But it’s not just the warped religious sensibility that’s a little shocking; it’s how utterly out of touch with business culture these champions of the “free market” are. More and more, we’re seeing major businesses step forward and support equal rights for all. Here in Washington, we saw Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, Nike, etc. come forward and announce their support for marriage equality. More than 85% of the companies in the Fortune 500 have anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation (unfortunately, far fewer have policies that include gender identity). That’s because these companies understand something that the religious right doesn’t seem to: Diversity pays. It’s not just a matter of the LGBT having disposable income that they prefer to spend at places that are LGBT owned or friendly; it’s the difference in perspective and ideas that different sub cultures bring to the table. It’s the vibrant communities that attract tourists from all over the globe for major cultural events and festivals. It’s the flourishing real estate markets that are open to all who can afford to live there. Major companies understand this more and more in today’s world. They understand that we’ve never been a monolithic country and that we are competing in a national and global market that draws from people with all sorts of different backgrounds, identities, cultures, etc. In short, they’re forward thinking. Unfortunately, so many of our Governments are still stacked with (or influenced by) people who still have a dark ages mentality that if enacted, will bring untold suffering and pain and hold this country back in numerous ways.