Let’s put aside – for the moment – that the media coverage of Arizona’s State Bill 1062 has been somewhat sensationalized, that it targeted gay men and lesbians and how little has been mentioned about similar bills existing in other states.
Briefly now, let’s ignore that the now-vetoed legislation made no mention of homosexuality or discrimination of anyone due to sexual orientation or how absurd it is, especially in the 21st century, to try and legitimize singling out a segment of the population and justifying irrational animosity just because someone’s “different” than you are. Look past the attempt to hide behind “religious freedom.”
I’m not here to pick sides. I’m here to show how ridiculous it is to try and reason that it’s ever OK to refuse service to somebody based on race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation or anything other than being a disruptive or dangerous customer.
First off, if refusing service became a common practice, imagine the pitfalls that come with the territory: Let’s say you are dead set against serving gays. How do you know for certain that’s who you are denying? Unless you’ve got the world’s most accurate gaydar, what are you basing it on? Mannerisms? speech? Not very reliable. If two women are holding hands, do you shoo them away before figuring out that they might be mother and daughter, sisters, or just really clingy friends? If a girl with a crew-cut, a few facial piercings and an armful of tattoos enters a business, do you kick her out based on the assumption she’s a lesbian when perhaps she’s straight and that just happens to be her style?
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Unless you really are living under a rock, there’s no excuse for not knowing stereotypes are not very reliable. A gay man can be as masculine as a defensive lineman – like Michael Sam – and lesbians who look like the recently out-of-the-closet Ellen Page further prove that your parents were right when they cautioned you against judging a book by its cover.
Even a customer who strides in proudly and states, “I am gay, and proud of it” could be a brave man fulfilling a dare, or a fraternity pledge being hazed. Yet they would be given their walking papers by certain business owners.
But that’s beside the point.
What a lot of people don’t get is, treating somebody differently because of what they do in their personal lives is just wrong. When you start singling out groups to object to, you start a hypocritical slide. Let’s say you take a “moral” stand as a business owner to refuse to serve gays. How do you then reconcile the fact that you’ve probably served felons, atheists, devil worshipers, or pedophiles at some point? I’ll tell you when you should refuse service to gays – when they disrupt business – and you should refuse service to heterosexuals who do the same thing.
You might call it an infringement of religious beliefs. I might call it hate. Personally, I find it more palatable to not frequent businesses run by hatemongers.
You can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org to define “religious freedom.”