The LGBT recoil

It looks like North Carolina is the latest state to discover the pitfalls of trying to govern from the extreme. HB2, passed in a special one-day session, specifically overwrote a Charlotte, North Carolina ordinance that allowed people to use the restroom that aligned with their gender identity. The hastily signed law by now-chagrinned Governor Pat McCrory requires North Carolina citizens to use the restroom aligned with the sex assigned to them by birth on their birth certificate or face the penalty of law.

The ink was hardly dry before the ACLU was filing a suit. And then the real recoil began. PayPal canceled plans to build offices in the state, at a cost of some four hundred jobs. The Boss (Bruce Springsteen) canceled plans for a concert in the state. North Carolinians can perhaps take some comfort in knowing that they are not the only state dumb enough to pass laws like these. Georgia’s governor vetoed a bill with similar intentions. Mississippi looks primed to follow North Carolina’s example with a “religious liberty” bill that gives permission to businesses to discriminate against people they don’t like because of God or something. It’s not even law and it’s promoting a backlash, causing Sharon Stone to move the location of her new film out of the state and the governor of Oregon to move the christening of the USS Oregon’s sister ship to his state. Of course Indiana got bitch slapped on similar issues last year, and even Arizona saw that light when convention bookings slowed down.

Why do these states do this? It’s like they have a death wish. In most cases there is no groundswell of constituents demanding these laws, but there are often fundamentalist groups who have the ears of legislators instead. The answer in part is because legislators in these states have their ears keenly tuned to hear messages from these groups who sustain their hold on power. But the only reason they have so much power is because states like North Carolina are gerrymandered to provide extremely disproportionate representation for conservatives. The nature of gerrymandering is that it is an artificial construct that cannot survive for long because it is unfair. A backlash was inevitable. Worse, these laws were entirely preventable and there were plenty examples of states who had already suffered the consequences. That would have at least suggested some caution, perhaps the governor shelving the bill for a few weeks to let tempers cool.

So much stupidity but perhaps the stupidest thing is that these laws try to solve problems that don’t even exist. Let me ask you what would be more disruptive: a trans man using a ladies restroom because his birth certificate says he is a woman, or a trans woman using a men’s restroom for a similar reason. The latter sounds the more dangerous to me; if I were a trans woman I’d literally prefer to pee in my pants before going into a men’s room. Of course that’s part of the problem. It’s hugely challenging when your gender misaligns with your sex and particularly during and after the transition process. It’s only now after a couple of decades that the trans community is starting to get some sympathy from the general public, mainly because most of us haven’t tuned into it. It’s a complex issue as I discovered some years back.

But the religious freedom arguments really sound shallow. Religious freedom in this case is basically government-approved bigotry. Doubtless there are passages in the Bible that suggest black people are evil (curious as most Jews are Semites and if not quite black have dark-hued skins.) Under the guise of religious freedom then anyone can assert they have a right to run a business that caters only to non-blacks. If it’s not in the Bible, it’s still no big deal. Create your own religion where only white people are holy and there you go. You can assert it’s your sincere religious belief and who can doubt you? These laws protect not the richest 1% but allow the most bigoted 1% to selectively shame people they don’t like with impunity.

The good news for bigots is that they have every right to be a bigot in their private lives. However, a business cannot be called public if it does not accept all comers. If I own a bakery and don’t want to bake wedding cakes for gay couples, I can get out of the bakery business. Or I can decide that I understand that being public means everyone can ask for my services and baking one doesn’t mean I support gay marriage but it does mean I have sanction to profit from anyone who walks in my shop door.

There is some concern that these laws will require ministers to marry gay couples or face the penalty of law. I’m not sure where this comes from but it’s a specious concern. You might as well worry that a Catholic priest will be required to perform a Jewish wedding. Religious marriage ceremonies require parties to agree to the marriage rules of the religion. I suppose it is possible that a state law might require any legal “celebrant” to perform a civil marriage, and that celebrant could also be a minister. In this case though the ceremony would be purely civil, does not have to be performed in their church and would have no religious connotation.

One thing that is clear is that these laws are toxic. Generations X and Y have made it clear that everyone must be treated equally under the law, so at best these laws will prove to be short-lived. Perhaps it’s possible these legislators don’t understand how hurtful and shaming these laws are, but more likely they do understand and that’s part of their animus in voting them in. They will get their comeuppance in time. In North Carolina, a recent poll puts Governor McCrory four points behind his LGBT-friendlier challenger.

When you make it your business to shame others, you will inevitably find that it will shame you instead. Give it a few months as more businesses leave the state and I think North Carolina legislators will find a reason to quietly repeal HB 2. Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and other states in this boat will too in time but sadly are likely to look for less overt ways to discriminate instead. There are always those Voter ID laws.

There’s a storm not coming!

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is dreadfully concerned about gay marriage. I was hoping that maybe they were dreadfully concerned about the quality of marriage in this country for a change, as evidenced by our national divorce rate being between forty and fifty percent. I expected that all the bad marriages, divorces and the wreckage they cause would be of huge concern to NOM.

Ha ha! Of course not, at least not that much compared to the evil that gay marriage means … well, I am not sure exactly what it means to them except that they are afraid. If you haven’t already, watch their 60-second commercial and see if you can figure it out.

There’s a storm gathering. The clouds are dark. And the winds are strong. And I am afraid.

So some people are afraid, but of what? Oh, here we go:

Some who advocate for same sex marriage have taken the issue far beyond same sex couples. They want to bring the issue into my life. My freedom will be taken away.

So some people are afraid because same sex marriage will mean they will have less freedom. Perhaps they are worried that if their state can let gays marry then their state can also take away the right for heterosexuals to marry.  That doesn’t seem too likely as homosexuals comprise about three to five percent of the population. What other freedoms then could they be talking about?

I am a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job.

Apparently, a doctor in California did not want to treat a lesbian patient who wanted to be artificially inseminated. The doctor refused because her patient was not married and that violated her beliefs. In this case, the California Supreme Court declared that the rights of the patient were more important than the rights of the doctor. The NOM seems to be arguing that physicians should be allowed to violate the law of the State of California and their Hippocratic Oath when it violates their personal beliefs. If all acts of conscience are excusable, can I decline a ticket for driving without my seat belt because it is against my beliefs? However, what really matters here is that this is a red herring. It has nothing to do with same sex marriage. The issue was facilitating having a child out of wedlock.

I am part of a New Jersey church group punished by the government because we can’t support same sex marriage.

This is one of these cases that is much ado about nothing. A New Jersey Methodist church owns a square mile of property along the Atlantic Ocean. The church is inland. They built a boardwalk and pavilion along the beach. The church allowed public weddings in the pavilion.  Two lesbians asked to use the pavilion for their wedding because it was for public use and were refused. Because the church allowed the pavilion to be used by the public rather than for church purposes, the state said it was taxable property. The church itself remains tax-exempt. The dispute here has to do with public use of property owned by a church and whether such property should be taxed. The lesbian couple has sued the church, but that is a civil suit. It is not an action by the government to lash out at those who object to gay marriage. Once again, the issue as portrayed in the ad has nothing to do with government being vindictive against churches that are against gay marriage.

I am a Massachusetts parent helplessly watching public schools teach my son that gay marriage is okay.

The concern here is that a public school teacher can say in the classroom that gay marriage is legal in the State of Massachusetts, which in fact it is. This is not advocating gay marriage; this is stating the truth. It is also a fact that gay marriage is not (currently) allowed next door in New York State. It would be factual for a teacher to state that too, but I bet this Massachusetts parent would not object. It sounds like this parent really wants to restrict which facts teachers can communicate to students. This is not freedom; it is censorship, which is its antithesis.

But some who advocate for same sex marriage have not been content with same sex couples living as they wish.

Say what? In most cases, same sex couples are not living as they wish; that’s why they and those of us who agree with them are petitioning for their right to marry! Moreover, if the U.S. Supreme Court had not invalidated all state sodomy laws, some of these gays and lesbians would still be lawbreakers and possibly in jail for the “crime” of having oral or anal sex.

Those advocates want to change the way I live. I will have no choice.

If the issue is gay marriage, since you are not gay how will that change how you live your life? If the issue is one of facing the law for doing things against your conscience, you are free to follow your conscience providing you do not mind being prosecuted. You can also petition to change the law. News flash: we are all required to obey the law. It is nondiscriminatory. We are required to obey the law even when it is inconvenient, even when laws are stupid. Are you requesting the right to choose which laws you will follow? If so, will you extend the same privilege to gays and lesbians? If not, why not?

The storm is coming. But we have hope. A rainbow coalition of people of every creed and color are coming together in love to protect marriage.

As a heterosexual married man, I can state for my wife and I that the vitality and continuance of our marriage has no relationship to whether gays can or cannot marry. It amazes me that anyone who is married could possibly believe otherwise. If you are married, do you really think that your marriage is more likely to crumble because gays can marry? In the event I divorce, it will not be because I turned gay. I would have found this out by now. If I divorce, I will still be allowed to remarry should I choose. What I do know is that other citizens just because they are attracted to their own sex do not have the same right, and this is just as unjust as laws that used to prohibit interracial marriage.

This commercial reminds me of that Dr. Seuss story, “The Pale Green Pants with nobody inside of them”. NOM is chasing a bogeyman that exists only in their fears and not in reality. Here is my suggestion to those opposed to gay marriage: talk with gay and lesbian people. You will discover they are real people just like you. They bleed just like you. They have 46 chromosomes just like you. They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you. They feel, just like you. They cry, laugh, get angry, feel happy and have fears and insecurities just like you. They are not worse than you. They are not better than you. They are just human beings, like you. As such, it is inexcusable to deny gays and lesbians the same legal privileges as anyone else.

Maybe it’s not storm clouds these people are afraid of, but the sunlight.