We’ve made so much progress, but are we going backwards? (x)
Freedom of speech, religion and the press are some of the many rights granted to Americans in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. As Americans, we throw the word “freedom” around quite a bit. We even call our country “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” However, people seem to suddenly think it’s acceptable to redefine what the word “freedom” actually means. These people have proposed a new segregation—one that is targeting the LGBT community and proving that not only is America not the land of the free, but it is most certainly not the home of the brave, either.
The states of Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Nevada, Idaho, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Mississippi, Utah, Oregon, Kansas and Tennessee have all proposed laws that would legalize discrimination against the LGBT community—all in the name of religious freedom. These laws state that any business can refuse service to someone if it goes against their religious beliefs. So if a gay man is ill and needs medical care, he can be turned away and denied treatment if his doctor thinks being gay is a sin. If a lesbian couple’s home is on fire, the local firemen can refuse to put it out and let their home burn to the ground.
And it doesn’t stop there—Washington Lobbyist Jack Burkman recently proposed a bill that would ban gay men from playing in the NFL. He claimed the reason for this bill was due to gay men showering in the locker room with straight men. With all the progress the LGBT community has made in recent years, I think bills like these are desperate attempts by our opponents to push their agenda. They’re running out of arguments, so the ones they’ve got left are making less and less sense. How is a gay man showering in the locker room with a straight man a bad thing? First of all, gay men are not attracted to every man they see. Second of all, there’s a big difference between being gay and being a rapist. I think what Jack Burkman needs to do is think about why our sexuality is so important to him.
It’s not just adults who are being affected by these laws. A new bill in Tennessee was recently proposed that justifies and allows anti-gay bullying in schools. The “Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act” could make it acceptable for LGBT youth to be treated unfairly by fellow students if it conflicted with their religious beliefs. As horrible as it is for these kinds of laws to target adults, targeting children makes it even worse. With the large amount of LGBT youth that commit suicide due to bullying in schools, having a law that would allow it is dangerous. Schools are a place where we teach children to be decent human beings and give them a sense of order. What are we teaching them is this kind of law is passed?
The argument used to defend and justify these laws all have the same thing in common. According to those who propose these bills, it’s their constitutional right to discriminate against someone. If the First Amendment grants the right to religious freedom, then we’re entitled to turn those who go against our religion away, right? Wrong. It’s pretty sad when you have to give a bunch of adults a vocabulary lesson, but here it goes—freedom means for everyone to be free. It’s not freedom if only one group of people are free. Everyone must be free in order for there to be real freedom. And sadly, I don’t think America has reached that point yet.