Could LGBT supporters deny business services to fundamentalists in North Carolina and Mississippi?

Jillian Page
LGBT Perspectives Editor

QUEBEC — “So, would this mean LGBT business owners (in Mississippi) can deny services to right-wing redneck fundamentalists, too?”

I posed that question to   Wednesday on Twitter in response to their “breaking news” tweet that the Mississippi Senate had passed a  sweeping anti-LGBT religious freedom bill, which would “would protect individuals, religious organizations, and certain businesses who take actions due to their religious objections to same-sex marriage. It would also protect those who object to transgender people. The bill says they could not face government retribution if they were acting based on “sincerely held” religious beliefs,” reports Buzzfeed. “Further, it covers those who decline for reasons of faith to provide counseling services, foster care, and adoption services — even, apparently, those receiving government funding. Clerks who issue marriage licenses could also recuse themselves.”

In other words, as Buzzfeed points out: “Critics widely argue the bill would explicitly allow the denial of services, goods, wedding products, medical treatment, housing, and employment to LGBT people.”

About 23 people have tapped on the “like” key for my tweet so far, with several “retweeting” it to their followers.

Yes, I was being facetious, because LGBT people generally would not discriminate against religious folks. LGBT people generally have a “live and let live” attitude. Because it is 2016, after all.

So how is it in 2016 that some states can enact legislation that caters to the bigotry of a minority of superstitious people who follow archaic belief systems and believe and worship imaginary supernatural entities and deities that never, ever speak for themselves? How is it these mentally challenged individuals still hold so much sway over so much of American society?

It’s baffling, especially for we Canadians who have seen religion put in its proper place in Canada — where it can’t dictate how society treats LGBT people.

According to a Los Angeles Times report today: “Federal protections for the LGBT community are widely popular with the American public: A 2015 poll from UCLA’s Williams Institute showed that an overwhelming majority of respondents (78%) supported nondiscrimination laws for LGBT people. In fact, many Americans assume such protections already exist: A 2014 survey from the Huffington Post and YouGov showed that 62% of likely voters thought that it was “currently illegal under federal law to fire someone for being gay or lesbian.” ”

So, could someone please explain to Canadians how is it that the right-wing fundamentalist lunatic fringe in places like North Carolina, Mississippi and 16 or so other states can still wreak so much havoc with their exclusionary and hateful belief systems? How is it they can hurt LGBT people who only want equal civil rights and to live their lives in peace? Why do the majority of American citizens allow the lunatics to get away with it?

I’m thinking there may be a certain “head in the sand” phenomena going on with many non-LGBT Americans: yes, they support LGBT people in principle, but they are not going to stand up for them against the right-wing bully bigots. But maybe if they did, they might actually put those bullies in their proper place, just like we did in Canada.

Still, in Canada, we respect the rights of people to believe in any archaic religious system they fancy. People are allowed to worship imaginary supernatural entities. And nobody here is allowed to discriminate against them because of their beliefs. It’s as close to a perfect system as you can get: live and let live.

But in the United States, where the “right” to discriminate against LGBT people is enshrined in some states, one has to wonder how long it will be before people are given the right to discriminate against fundamentalists, and to deny them equal civil rights?

Some might argue that fundamentalists in the business community feel they are facing discrimination in states that insist they treat all people equally, and are not permitted to deny services to LGBT people because of religious beliefs.

But that is not the way it works in business, and if a business person feels they can’t — because of their superstitious religious beliefs —  serve some members of the public, then they need to find another line of work. It’s so simple, and only the biggest simpleton can’t see that.

It would seem, though, that the day is coming in some parts of the United States when business people will be allowed to deny services to the same religious folks who seek to deny equal rights to LGBT people.

At least, that’s what the response to my tweet on Twitter seems to suggest.

An eye for an eye, or karma as some of us prefer to define it: The right-wing lunatic fringe may very well reap what it is sowing in states like North Carolina.

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