Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Wyoming GOP's Gay Vendetta Has Unintended Consequences
Wyoming recently joined the ranks of many other states and began issuing marriage licenses for same sex couples. This didn't sit well with the bigots in our state who began inundating local newspapers with hateful letters to the editor that local heterosexual marriages were at risk and that in general our state was going to hell in a hand basket. It isn't surprising that republican lawmakers in the state have retaliated against the new law with attempts to undermine it. The most startling manifestation of the GOP's vendetta against the LGBTQ community in Wyoming is House Bill 83, also known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This bill would essentially legalize discrimination of all types in the state of Wyoming. The bill authorizes “defenses against governmental action that burden religious freedom.” And it states that anyone will a “sincerely held religious belief" cannot be punished in any way for refusing to perform an act unless it is “essential to further a compelling government interest.” The idea is that a photographer or wedding cake baker cannot be held liable for their discriminatory behavior if they refuse to serve a gay couple if the solicit services for a wedding on the grounds that the photographer or baker is morally compelled to decline the services due to their religion. This is shameful piss poor behavior that should not be tolerated. I cannot believe that my state is considering making this law. There is the obvious issue at hand, the shameful discrimination against the LBGTQ community encoded into law, which cannot be ignored but there are also unintended consequences. What if a doctor feels morally obligated to refuse a woman's abortion? Or a man's vasectomy? Or a child's vaccinations? What if a pharmacist refuses to dispense birth control? What if a teacher refuses to teach evolution or climate science or sexual education? What if a landlord refuses a home to someone because he's Muslim? What if a Muslim land lord evicts someone because he's Christian? Where does it end? In the rural communities of Wyoming you can't always go to another doctor, or find another pharmacist or a new teacher. There may only be one and if you are denied services you may be out of luck. Discrimination is a serious issue with serious consequences. Making it legal and giving it rights is absurd and shameful. Real people will pay real really high prices for this and for what? To protect the feelings of a bigot? To make it easier for them to hate? I say no. Not in my state. Not in the equality state. Here we treat everybody decently. Here we live by the code of the west, we look everybody in the eye and say, "Hey, I know you may be different than me but I also know that where it counts we're the same and so I am going to treat you like I would treat myself." That's how cowboys do it. They don't hide behind God as an excuse to treat other human beings badly. They don't tolerate rude behavior in each other. There is a code to the west and people who want to use God as a false sword and shield are a pitiful example of what our state stands for. We are bigger and better than that.