straight-gay-segregationBy Carissa Vargas

Recently, there have been anti-gay bills proposed in states like Kansas and Arizona. Not long ago, the House approved a bill that would prohibit anti-discrimination lawsuits when individuals, groups, or businesses use their religion as a reason to refuse to provide goods, services, accommodations and employment benefits related to a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership. The Arizona bill would allow people who object to same-sex marriage to use their religious beliefs as a defense in a discrimination lawsuit. Much like in Kansas, he or she would be allowed to be excused on the terms that gay marriage is ‘against their religion.’ These developments for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual Queer (LGBTQ) community are not an isolated event; there have also been similar variations of the bill in Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee.

While Kansas was the first state to propose such an openly anti-gay policy, Arizona is, so far, the first and only to pass the gay discrimination bill due to stalling in the Senate for Kansas, Idaho, and Ohio. There has been a lot of controversy, so it is not as if such openly discriminating bills are being easily passed. The proposition has gotten much criticism over the possibility of the bill passing in Kansas, as well as Arizona. Many liberal reporters and blogs across the internet have cried out, using terms such as ‘blatant discrimination’ and refer to the bill as ‘the abominable anti-gay segregation bill,’ some going as far as calling the law in Arizona the ‘gay Jim Crow’ law. Nationwide outrage has ensued, and many speculate that the bills’ initial propositions are in response to the recent victories for the LGBTQ community.

Even so, these new bills show a complete disregard for the separation of church and state; organized religion and the national state are meant to be kept distant. The law should not show favor for any one religion, nor should there be an exclusive excuse to doing one’s job.  As long as personal life choices are no threat to others, they are also no one else’s business.These laws are archaic, and belong to a century in the past. Being gay is no longer illegal and therefore there are no justifiable legal grounds for the police or medical examiners to refuse assistance. The relevance of a person’s sexual orientation does not take precedence over the fact that an American citizen (who has not committed any crime) is in need of help.

Not only would this be a dishonorable breach on the separation of church and state in our government system, but it is also an awakening to the state of human decency in certain areas within our nation.  The very fact that the bill was so seriously proposed—and so nearly passed (actually passed in Arizona)—is in and of itself, a travesty. It represents a frustratingly slow move for equality. We refuse to become a better version of ourselves. The nation itself hinders its movement towards equality. Refusing to help a fellow citizen, a fellow human being, just on the basis of who they personally choose to love is a ridiculous and grossly bigoted way to live. This anti-gay law is more about open discrimination against the gay community, rather than ‘protecting religious beliefs.’

While other developed countries branch out into a liberal and accepting world view, the U.S. is still miles behind any kind of social advancement. Around the world, 16 countries have laws allowing same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships, mostly in Europe and South America. Discrepancies such as these bills make it all too clear how far America has to go in order to become more accepting of all the diverse peoples on which the U.S. is founded upon. At the very least, the nation takes two steps forward in equality for all citizens and then proceeds to stall any movement forward with a staggering bound backward. The battle for equal rights is at a snail-pace forward; but so far, forward is the trend in the United States. Recently, the laws approving same-sex marriage have increased, and the total number of states where it is legal is now 17. While not even half of the states of the US, this is an improvement from 50 years ago. It is sad that such a personal and positive life choice is so harshly regulated. The fact that the battle for every citizen to marry who they choose is such a slow and contradictory movement is disappointing, but every small won victory, for now, must be celebrated. Every movement backwards must be responded to with a more accepting and optimistic spirit. Do not allow Kansas and Arizona to set the trend. Set a trend for acceptance yourself, in your daily life.

Everyone deserves to be happy. Everyone deserves to love. Allowing bills and laws such as these simply stalls our society’s movement forward, into acceptance and away from the discrimination which can harm people of the LGBTQ community by debasing their importance and status in society. It makes them a second-class citizen; what is the next step, segregation? Going back to dividing people based upon their differences? No. Someday everyone will be allowed to have what they deserve. Someday, our society will see people as people.

Someday every citizen of the United States of America will be treated with fairness and tolerance. It is up to us to make this ‘someday’ a reality.