by Nicky Vaught, Co-Founder of Students Advocating for Gender Equality (SAGE)
Originally posted in The Technician. Reposted with author permission.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the state’s proposed anti-gay bill Wednesday. The bill would have effectively legalized systematic discrimination of homosexual people as long as it’s done in the name of religion. Senate Bill 1062, which the state legislature approved last week, goes above and beyond today’s usual institutionalized oppression in that it does not only restrict gay people from marrying, but would have permitted Arizona businesses to deny service to anyone on the basis of sexuality.
Wednesday also saw U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia’s striking down Texas’s proposed ban on same-sex marriages, citing the ban as “state-imposed inequality.”
These are victories, but they are bittersweet at best. At worst, these victories taste like Warheads candy. We, as a nation, should not have to endure the stinging sour of conservative reactionaries before enjoying sweet equality.
Unfortunately, it seems as though we must face these systematic injustices before the U.S. can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
Earlier this week, representatives from Young Americans for Liberty handed me a pocket constitution. Though I nearly tossed it in the most convenient garbage can, I ended up giving it a good read. It did not take long before I stumbled upon the Bill of Rights.
As it turns out, the first sentence in the first Amendment holds, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” There is no if, and, but or unless about it.
So why, then, have so many politicians across the nation and in North Carolina worked almost their entire terms toward implementing discrimination laws, proudly citing the Bible as their guide?
Could it be to distract us from the sickeningly abhorrent abuse and misuse of money?
In my first column, I used a word of my own invention. Religiouslature, a portmanteau of religious and legislature, was meant to describe laws inspired by religion. In the column “NSA University or something,” I used the term in passing to describe the N.C. General Assembly as nonsensical and overzealously Christian.
Anyone who has studied a lick of history might feel a sense of déjà vu. Using the Bible to back sexual bigotry holds all too close a resemblance to the arguments posed in opposition to the U.S. Civil Rights movement of the late 20th century.
I don’t mean to equate the plight of non-cissexual and non-heterosexual people to that of non-whites. However, I do mean to point out the similarities in styles of oppression. In fact, the only thing that’s changed is the subjugated group.
By the late ‘60s, the civil rights movement reached a conclusion. Neither businesses nor government had any right denying people service or marriage (see: interracial marriage) based on their skin color. So what makes denying people service or marriage on the basis of their sexuality any different?
Personally, I will not marry until everyone in the country has the opportunity and freedom to marry the person they love.
We have already fought this battle, and we won. At this point, conservative legislators are doing little more than embarrassing themselves. It’s like watching a child try to beat LeBron James in basketball. There is no way James won’t win. It’s just a waste of time to make him play.