Posted by: Genny Colby | February 26, 2014

Discrimination…It’s for Everyone!

As I am sure many of heard, Arizona is on the edge of, in my opinion, a very slippery slope with their newest legislation SB1062.  Under the guise as “freedom of religion” piece of legislation, it is opening the door to legal discrimination.  To start, I am still not sure why such legislation is required. We all have the freedom to our own religion, with very little fear of prosecution, as long as your religious practices do not harm others (abuse, etc).  But where this bill begins to cross the line is that is an open invitation to use one’s religion to make assumptions and judgments about others, and use that to deny them service, access to services, or access to the same opportunities as others in their community.

In essence, as long as the you can provide some sort of “religious basis” you can deny someone else a seat in your restaurant, a ride in your cab, a loan at your bank, or even a job.  This has been touted as an “anti gay/lesbian” bill.  And I do believe that this is this is the basis for such legislation even being written, but it really could and likely will if passed have larger consequences.  But first, it is important to note that any private establishment already reserves the right to deny any patron service or access to service based solely on the owners discretion.  Often times this is used to remove guests who are rude to the point of threatening, abusive, showing inappropriate behaviors or using offensive language, or is otherwise disturbing the business now or has repeatedly done so in the past.  AND Arizona does not currently recognize same-sex marriage/unions, and there are no legal protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation.  So why this bill?  Well, it seems that those in the Conservative Right Wing have seen the writing on the wall…we as a human race are realizing that all people regardless of ANYTHING deserve the same rights and protections.  That simply being a human being is what allows us these rights and discrimination of any kind is wrong, unfair, and unjust.  Arizona legislators are trying to be “pro-active” to sending their state into the dark ages again.  It was not that long again that we separated people based on gender, and race.  Women have long fought, and still do, to be seen as equal to men.  We thought that those who were not “white” were less.  We did not allow those of other races to marry.  For the most part, we have seen that all these beliefs were false and have made moves to treat all as equal under the law.  Why is sexual orientation any different?

The push back on this legislation seems to have taken those in control of the Arizona legislature by surprise.  Though I can’t see why they should be surprised!  Many of them have even claimed that they don’t see this as a bill that allows discrimination (um, really)?  What fantasy world are they living in?  Basically they are giving anyone the right to deny someone access to a good or service based on some sort of assumption or loosely held belief.  It is not only those in the gay community that will face discrimination, but it can easily be extended to those who are divorced, who are single parents, who do not practice the same faith as the one providing the service, and I am sure the list goes on.    If you have not done so yet, this video of an Anderson Cooper interview sums it all up nicely and puts it all into perspective about how far-reaching this bill really could go.

Thankfully, there has been a lot of negative push back to the state of Arizona on this piece, though why it is taking so long for the Governor to veto it is beyond me.  It leads me to believe that she is really considering this a serious piece of legislation.  Which is almost as troubling as the bill itself.  All of these people were elected to serve the people of Arizona, not just those that voted for them or have the same beliefs/political ideology.  (This actually a complaint for any politician, regardless of level of office, or political affiliation…they forget they are supposed to be working for ALL, not just those that give them money).

Discrimination in a long, deeply rooted part of our country’s history.  I would hope that by 2014 we would be closer to moving further away from this instead of finding new ways to incorporate it into our society.  Our country was founded on the idea that everyone should have the freedom of/from religion.  No one is denying anyone’s right to have and practice a religion.  But to bring your religion into your work place…well that seems not only discriminatory, but also a really foolish business move.  And really, how does one’s beliefs affect anyone else?  Who are these people to pass judgement on others?  Please, correct me if I am wrong, but is it not a basic tenet of almost all religions to be kind, caring, and compassionate to others?  Is that not how people define being a “Christian”?  Today it seems that everyone seems to believe they have their right to the spiritual judge and jury for mankind.  Unless I am forgetting my Bible studies, I thought that there were already those of a “higher power” to make those calls.  Won’t we all have to answer for the choices that we have made when the time comes? (If you believe in afterlife/heaven/hell/etc.)

I can only hope that the rest of the country is closely watching the situation in Arizona.  Even if this bill is vetoed (as I sincerely hope it is) there are going to be consequences.  And those that matter most will be the companies that decide Arizona is not the environment to expand their businesses.  The organizations that  elect to take their work retreats/conventions/events to other locations.  Families will take their hard-earned vacation dollars elsewhere.  Unfortunately it will be the all mighty dollar that will eventually get our country from moving backwards in our attitudes to moving forward.

There are many that argue a full boycott of Arizona is not fair as there are many private citizens and many companies, business, employees who do not agree with this piece of legislation or in any form of discrimination.  And I agree that it is not fair to punish those that don’t agree with this situation, but how do you only patronize those business?  And how do you reward the state as a whole for electing these people into office and NOT holding them accountable.  I know that even those that did vote for these leaders may not agree with what is happening, but until you hold those in charge accountable and actively work to change things, make things better, it is unfortunately the dollar that it is the only weapon the rest of have to make our point.  We will not stand for discrimination of any kind.  We will not let people hide behind their religion in order to do so.  We are all in this together and only by putting those in positions of leadership that will represent us all, do what is best for us all, protect all of our rights, we will as country move ahead.

As Dr Seuss said… “A person is a person,  no matter how small”    I would suggest that we focus on the idea that a person is a person…and that should entitle them to equal treatment under the law.  That all the other stuff is not what matters.  That we treat all people with kindness, compassion, and respect is what matters.

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