Really, Tennessee state legislature? You were so close. You were almost reputable. People almost thought about our state fondly – we have the show Nashville, for goodness’ sake – and you had to just stomp on it like Caesar with your big feet.
Last week, state Senator Brian Kelsey of Memphis submitted Bill 2566, which is now charmingly nicknamed the “Turn Away the Gays” bill. Bill 2566 permits open-door businesses and religious/denominational organizations the right to refuse goods or services to homosexual customers, based on “since religious convictions.”
The bill comes as a result of a number of lawsuits in other states and the District of Columbia, where photographers, bakers, and florists, were sued for refusing services to homosexual couples. What do all those professions have in common? WEDDINGS. How did that decision even get made? “Oh, so you want to get married? Well, how are you going to do it without any FLOWERS? Mwahaha.” Grow up. You are the lamest of Bond Villains.
Bill 2566 comes from a place of extreme childishness. You can’t stop gays from falling in love and committing to one another, but you could make their “Big Day” that much more difficult, just because you don’t like it. Ostensibly, the bill protects businesses from potential lawsuits as the result of following their conscience. That’s the most frustrating argument for this bill? Legally, you cannot discriminate based on religion, race, or ethnicity. Gays, however, are not legally protected from discrimination, and some earnestly believe, as Rice put it, “…Its more wrong to force people to violate their conscience.” You can sell wedding cake to Irish Catholics, Indonesian Muslims, and atheist Asians, so long as you don’t sell to gays!
Freedom of religion is a precious right, don’t get me wrong, but freedom of religion means that you are allowed to live and govern yourself according to your own conscience. The government AND OTHER CITIZENS are not allowed to run your life, to force you to be Muslim instead of Hindu, Catholic instead of Protestant, or Atheist instead of Agnostic. That is freedom of religion, and it, like all the other freedoms, ends at another citizen’s freedom. You, as an individual, are only as free as far as you don’t impinge on my freedom, and vice versa.
Furthermore, the bill grants businesses and organizations this right of refusal on the grounds of “sincere religious belief.” How could something so abstract POSSIBLY be proved in a court of law? I don’t deny that there are those would deny service for religious reasons, but “sincere religious belief” is vague enough that it cannot be proven and easily abused.
Maybe I’m not a good enough Christian (come at me, bro!), but I don’t see how refusing to sell cake and flowers to gays is really “fighting the good fight” or more importantly – ANYBODY’S BUSINESS. Why or how do the vendors of any product or service get to dictate HOW the consumers of that product consume it? I bought a spoon. I could use it for eating, or I could make a ring out of it. Why does the spoon vendor care? You don’t see liquor stores refusing to sell to alcoholics and you sure as sugar won’t see McDonald’s refuse a cheeseburger to someone who really should have a salad and jog instead. Addiction and obesity are much bigger than threats to American society than gay marriage could ever hope to be.
In conclusion: any gays who want to get married or have a commitment ceremony should call me up. I’ll bake you a cake in my own Christian kitchen, and my conscience won’t even bat an eye.