My wife and I have lived in Arizona for about a month now, and we love it here. Before we moved, people warned us "It's a part of the Bible Belt" and "Expect a lot of racism" Our experience so far has been quite the opposite. The people seem friendly, and as a bi-racial couple, we don't seem to get treated different than anyone else. But unless you've been living under a rock for the past month, I'm sure you've heard about legislation that was proposed here to allow businesses to turn away homosexual couples based on their religious beliefs. After contemplation, and immense pressure from the public, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the law, so as of now it is dead.
I want to start by saying that I think discrimination for any reason is wrong, and I think everyone should be treated equally, regardless of their racial background, religious beliefs (or lack thereof) or who the choose to marry or go to bed with at night. But when I read the news coverage and the opinion pieces on this law, I always hear it compared to the Jim Crow era and the civil rights movement. And to be frank, that pisses me off.
Blacks were brought here from Africa and sold as property. After the Civil War when they were 'emancipated' certain states systematically enacted laws to reduce them to second class citizens. Things we take for granted today like bathrooms and drinking fountains were reserved for whites. No niggers allowed. Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Basically signing a piece of paper stating the the United States officially saw blacks as people instead of property. And with that was supposed to come the constitutional rights of 'Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'. Instead blacks were marginalized, disrespected and abused. Simply for the color of their skin. And here's something they don't teach in history class. On average between the when the civil war ended in 1865 and 1932 there was a black man, woman, or child lynched once a week, every week. Now fast forward to 1954, when a group of students has to appeal to the Supreme Court to go to school, because the "Separate but equal" schools they'd been forced to attend we're overcrowded and literally falling apart. The following year. Rosa Parks was arrested in Alabama for not giving up her seat on a bus. I'm sure you know all of this already because we're fortunate enough to learn it during the insult that is 'Black History Month'.
So here's my question. How many gay only schools are there? How many people have been lynched for being homosexual over the course of the last 60, 80, 100 years? Do you think it's anywhere near 2000? Is anyone denied the right to vote in America today because they're gay? How about 'Straight only' restaurants, bathrooms and water fountains? Are gays discriminated against in America today? Yes they are. But if you think that Blacks aren't, try being one of ten black kids walking through the hall in Fairport High School and count how many times you get called nigger. Or walk through the mall with your wife who isn't black and see how many dirty looks you get. And how many black males are arrested and incarcerated compared to any other demographic? But those things are nothing compared to what the men and women before me went through.
People died so I could marry whomever I choose. Men and women had fire hoses and dogs turned on them so I could vote. There is a difference between discrimination and persecution. There is a difference between discrimination and segregation. Homosexuality is more accepted in America today than any time in our country's history, and when people use what people like Rosa Parks went through to further their political position, that minimizes what they did, and it is offensive. And make no mistake about it, it is purely political. There is no shortage of businesses that would be happy to provide their services to a gay couple who is getting married, or adopting a child. So if you have other options, why would you want to give your money to someone who clearly is against what you are? Because if they refuse to serve you because of your sexuality, you can go on TV and talk about how hateful religious people are. I am a husband, I am a heterosexual, I am a Christian, I am black. If I knew of a business that refused to serve any demographic, I'd simply take my business elsewhere. That is, of course unless I was trying to draw attention to the fact that this business was choosing to serve certain people and not others. There's more to this than can fit in one post, so I'll save the rest for my next entry.