We’re starting to see the backlash against LGBTQ people as the likelihood of nationwide marriage equality increases, and LGBTQ people achiever equality under the law. One of the main ways the Christianists are trying to keep us in our place, is to pass these bogus, and clearly unconstitutional, religious liberty bills. We saw how cowardly they are in Oklahoma this week.
Earlier this year, Oklahoma Republican state Rep. Chuck Strohm (pictured) introduced his ‘Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act’ (HB1371). If passed, this would allow businesses to deny services to customers if they felt that such services were ‘against the person’s religious beliefs’. (Make no mistake, these have been introduced, and some passed already in a number of states, including North Carolina.)
Unfortunately for the bigots in the Oklahoma legislature, they were outsmarted by a fair-minded Democratic Representative, Emily Virgin. Virgin introduced an amendment to the bill. Basically, the amendment stated that if you were planning on refusing to serve LGBT people on religious grounds, then you must display a public notice and own your bigotry.
“Any person not wanting to participate in any of the activities set forth in subsection A of this section based on sexual orientation, gender identity or race of either party to the marriage shall post notice of such refusal in a manner clearly visible to the public in all places of business, including websites,” said the amendment. “The notice may refer to the person’s religious beliefs, but shall state specifically which couples the business does not serve by referring to a refusal based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or race.”
Most thinking and fair-minded people would never want us to return to the days of “No Coloreds” signs, but that is precisely where the conservatives want to take us, only without the signs. Virgin explained that she was adamantly opposed to the bill, but thought this a reasonable accommodation to help lessen the embarrassment that could be caused to people if they went into a business where the owners intended to refuse service. Makes sense to me.
Well, once that amendment got on the bill, that was the end of that. It seems the Christianists are all fine with being bigots, so long as they don’t have to do it publicly. They are learning there is a price these days for bigotry in most places. They’d rather it stay quiet between themselves and the gay couple they just embarrassed and inconvenienced. They know if they have to advertise, on their website they are bigots, there will also be some straight people who stay away. This is just like the battles to try to keep secret those who sign anti-gay ballots initiative petitions, and give to anti-gay causes. They are righteous enough to sign, and write checks, but not righteous enough to own the consequences of their bigotry.
Maybe this would be a good time to poll Deep’s readers.