Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been the subject of many heated debates across the country lately. The bill supposedly “protects the rights of business owners” to refuse service to anyone for any reason so long as that reason is based in religious belief.
Some people see this bill as a step in the right direction because it gives business owners the right to stand by their beliefs regardless of pressure from elsewhere. However, I couldn’t be more nauseated by this bill because it is an open license to chauvinism and it should offend you as well.
Business owners already have the option to deny service to people, providing they don’t infringe upon the protections given under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which states that people cannot be discriminated against based on their race, color, religion or national origin, but should they really be allowed to deny service to people based on their sexual orientation? I would very strongly argue no, because discrimination based on sexual orientation is just as repulsive and malicious as discrimination based on race.
Religious belief is never a justification for prejudice, yet that is precisely what this bill is declaring – that discrimination is acceptable so long as it comes to the table dressed in church clothing. It is the same contemptible hatred that was used to justify racism in the past, and it should not be permitted to justify homophobia.
No one has the right to discriminate and everyone has the right to be free from discrimination. I don’t care whether or not the business owner agrees with the customer’s sexual orientation. They do not have the right to bigotry. There is a difference between disagreeing with someone’s opinions, lifestyle and character and promoting hate-speech and intolerance over someone’s inherent being.
Imagine if a Middle Eastern restaurant refused Christians entry based solely on the fact that they are not Muslims. Or perhaps if a storeowner denied whites service because it went against his religion to interact with white people. What if some Christians denied service to women because according to the Bible women are not entitled to equal rights? There would be uproar over all three of these hypothetical situations. So why, then, would we allow religious justification for discrimination against members of the LGBT community?
The fact that this issue is even being debated is absurd. You’d think that a society that so strongly praises the ideals of democracy and freedom would immediately thwart any attempt to beat down a group of people based solely on which particular genitalia they prefer, but I guess we haven’t reached that level of common sense yet.
As Jane Wiedlin once said, “It’s just better to promote love and fairness and equality than it is to promote something you think is based on your religious beliefs.”