As the American public’s acceptance of people who are LGBTQ grows, social conservatives have started to freak out a little bit; and, by “freak out a little bit”, I mean, “totally lose their shit”. Several states have either passed “religious freedom” laws or have one being debated in their legislatures. The most famous is Indiana’s, which was passed so that good Christian pizza makers wouldn’t be forced to cater gay weddings. In addition to bringing up the question, “What self-respecting couple, gay or straight, would have a pizza parlor cater their nuptials?”, the measure also caused a political firestorm that singed the feathers of Republican elected officials in the Hoosier State enough that they quickly added an amendment with protections for LGBTQ folks. Wasn’t that nice of them? Unfortunately, the lessons implicit in Indiana’s little faux pas seem to be completelty lost on legislators in my home state of North Carolina.
Earlier this year, in response to a ruling by the 4th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals which overturned the heinous Amendment One (our attempt to preserve “traditional marriage”), NC Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger sponsored Senate Bill 2, titled Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies. As the name implies, this measure would allow district court officers (magistrates and registers of deeds) to opt out of performing marriages or issuing marriage licenses (i.e. their sworn duties) because of religious beliefs. While the bill says “Every magistrate has the right to recuse from performing all lawful marriages (emphasis mine) under this Chapter based upon any sincerely held religious objection”, we all know the kind of marriage it’s really talking about: the gay kind. In other words, a government official’s right to use religion to shit on someone who’s different from them is more important than upholding the Constitution they swore to defend.
Right now, the chances of this bill becoming a law are about 50-50 as Governor McCrory has vetoed it. That’s heartening, if a little surprising, given his support for Amendment One; even if he might have done so for financial reasons (a business owner said he’d take a $20 million order for Freightliner out of the state if SB2 became law) and not because it was the right thing to do. But, it’s not over yet because the Senate has the votes to override the guv’s veto. The situation in the House, however, is a little more iffy.
It is interesting that all a bill designed to keep people who are LGBTQ from enjoying the rights and benefits due them as citizens of this state is sold to the public as a measure to protect Christians from violating their religious beliefs. Funny, but I thought Christians followed a man who preached radical love and acceptance. Did I miss something here?
So, what would Jesus do” in this situation? A lot of things, probably. But, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t work to pass legislation that allows civil servants to discriminate against some citizens of North Carolina. Nor would he call being asked to do your god-damned job “persecution”. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really wish these guys would just be upfront and say “We think gays getting married is icky and we don’t want it in our state” and stop hiding behind God, because any God worth their salt would have nothing to do with this bullshit.