So, last week, Indiana governor Mike Pence signed the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoraion Act into law. This piece of legislation isn’t a one-off thing particular to Indiana, though; there are similar bills pending across the country, including my own state of North Carolina. Supporters claim the laws aren’t meant to discriminate against people who are LGBTQ, but to protect believers 1st Amendment rights. Okay, if that’s the case, I have a few questions I’d like answered:
- If they’re only about protecting “religious freedom”, why did these laws only start to proliferate after the courts began striking down laws preventing same-sex marriage? And, like the Indiana law, why are most of them (if not all) sponsored by law makers with a long history of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation? Maybe it’s like the voter ID laws that have been passed and any discrimination that results is just a “happy” accident.
- How are business owners going to know if someone’s “lifestyle” violates their religious beliefs? Are they going to have a questionnaire for potential customers to fill out before they’ll do business with them? Say, here’s a nifty idea: we could issue everyone badges or patches that show whether they’re gay or straight, believer or infidel, etc. You know, like yellow stars or pink triangles.
- If you’re in the wedding business, why in the world would turn away LGBTQ couples? Their money spends just like straight couples and as people who have historically been prevented from marrying that are now marry the hell out of each other, they’re going to be walking into your shop shouting “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!” Not taking it because of what you think the Bible says about the subject doesn’t seem like a very smart business move to me.
- And, if you’re in the wedding business, do you deal with folks on their second/third/fourth wedding? If so, how do you reconcile that with this little tidbit: “I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” I suppose you might ask them if their previous marriage ended because their spouse was stepping out, but that’s a pretty awkward conversation, isn’t it? You could add an item to your pre-service questionnaire that would take care of it. Or, better yet, get divorcee’s their own badge. Like maybe a scarlet “D”? Or, another letter, I’ll leave that up your imagination.
- Are you afraid they’re going to “gay” things up? What do you think happens when people get an LGBTQ couple gets married: they walk down the aisle in assless chaps and turn the church fellowship hall into Studio 54 (or, whatever it is that straight people think “the homosexshuls” do for fun)? If so, I think you need to get out more, if only because that “Studio 54” reference is incredibly dated.
- What are you going to do when a Muslim refuses to serve a Christian, claiming it goes against their religious beliefs? Because that’s a possibility the way many of these laws are written. I’m sure you’ll take it well and won’t complain that it’s discrimination, cry about the imposition of Sharia law or anything like that.
- Exactly what religious freedoms are you restoring? I’m really curious about this one because, from what I can see, the authors of these bills are all Christians and here in the U. S., Christians have a pretty sweet deal. I hate to break to you, but other folks marrying the person they love is not a violation of your religious liberties. Not being allowed to marry that person? That’s another story.
I’m not sure where to send this list, so I’ll just leave it here on the internet. I’m not holding my breath waiting for answers, though.