Having grown up a member of an evangelical church and attended a conservative Christian university, I watched countless gays and lesbians struggle with the yoke of self-hate that these institutions put on good people — all in God’s name. I know firsthand the toll that intolerance bred from a strict religious viewpoint can take.
Christianity is supposed to be a belief system built on forgiveness and a love so deep that God overlooks all of our flaws. So I never understood then how people twist it to create outcasts and differing levels of worthiness — which is the total opposite of what the ministry of Jesus Christ was all about.
To suggest that people who espouse one point of view are better than others is like saying it’s OK for the school bully to beat up nerds on the playground. Whatever one’s political or religious beliefs, there should be no room for treating others as inferior simply because they were born a different gender or sexuality. Bucking court-enshrined protections, degrading people by denying goods and services, and damning people who are different should be not only scary but unacceptable practices that every freedom-loving American stands against.
Lately, every time conservatives open their mouths regarding LGBT people and marriage equality, they sound increasingly frightening and even, dare I say, un-American. When they compare homosexuality to alcoholism or dare states to defy federal court rulings and the Constitution, one can’t help but wonder how conservatives would react if Americans were to fully embrace their brand of intolerance in all walks of life. In case they haven't thought this through, let's help them imagine what that would truly look like.
Many red states now propose laws to protect individuals who want to deny wedding-related services to LGBT people under the banner of religious conscience. What if conservatives get what they want? Then people in the wedding industry could theoretically object to all kinds of people, couldn't they? For example, a baker might refuse a wedding cake for a blond man and a brunet woman based on a personal aversion to mixing hair colors. How would conservatives react if a gay florist refuses to supply flowers to straight couples or the hired band walks out because they only play at interracial weddings? Would the Cruzes, Robertsons, and Carsons of the right be outraged when it's their supporters who are being turned away by businesses? Allowing businesses to only provide services to couples who match one set of beliefs enshrines a disgusting practice of selective moral exclusivity into an industry that is about celebrating love.
No _____ Allowed
Suppose for a moment this line of thinking was carried beyond marriage. For example, what if every LGBT-friendly restaurant, hotel, bar, and corner store across the United States (which is a growing number of them) stopped serving straight people unless the patrons supported gay rights? This logic would seem to suggest that hundreds of thousands of conservatives should be perfectly willing to accept the legality of having doors slammed in their faces at millions of gay-friendly businesses. Maybe some owners decide they only serve women who cover their heads or men who can demonstrate pure white ancestry. When and where does the right to exclude people end under this dangerous line of thought? One is left with frightening images of yellow stars and pink triangles on this slippery slope of picking and choosing who is worthy of goods and services.
Although numerous state and federal courts have repeatedly ruled that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry is against the Constitution, and the Supreme Court appears poised to agree, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore recently suggested that states consider ignoring these rulings. If Moore’s idea became common practice across the country, would conservatives universally support states picking and choosing which additional court mandates they follow? Would local municipalities get to ignore state rulings? A large number of chaotic scenarios come to mind, including the reinstitution of segregation, repeals of select civil liberties, even secession. It would be an unfortunate step backward if state and city governments were permitted to defy laws of their choosing in order to deny rights to minorities at their whim.
Nature or Choice
Probably the lamest thing that people on the right state is that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender is a choice. While it is perfectly clear to almost everyone that a person no more selects their sexuality or gender than they do their eye color, Mike Huckabee recently compared homosexuality to alcoholism and compulsive gambling. What if Americans of all stripes decided to openly embrace this ivory tower of haughty judgment? Would conservatives accept open disdain and discrimination toward rebellious redheads and incalcitrant left-handed folks who buck the righty system? If it became acceptable for people across our country to not just thumb our noses at everyone different but to openly discriminate against them, we would be nothing but a sad crew of xenophobes and religious extremists similar to the members of organizations like ISIS.
JEZA BELLE is a drag queen, comedian, and LGBT activist. In addition to writing for numerous publications, Jeza has an award-winning comedic cookbook, The Harlot’s Guide to Classy Cocktails, and is a public speaker at events focusing on diversity, religion, and sexuality. For more information on Jeza Belle visit IAmJezabelle.com or follow her on Twitter @Jeza_Belle