Dear Future President,
With the past court rulings deeming it a federal right for those who are gay to get married, the ugly has come out across the nation. So much so that states are pushing religious freedom bills down the throats of their fellow state representatives. The laws are being passed and harming the individual rights of those across the country and in the specific states where religious freedom laws reside. Religious freedom laws should not be passed in states because they allow health services to reject those of the LGBT community. Religious practicing business owners are allowed to turn LGBT citizens away and are able to refuse to continue to employ women who have perhaps become pregnant out of wedlock.
In Michigan, a woman refused to serve a client that was gay. The woman, Julea Ward, was participating in a counseling program at East Michigan State University when she refused to serve a gay client stating that it was against her beliefs religiously to serve someone who likes the same sex. At a college in Georgia a woman who was also a counselor, told her clients of the gay and bisexual community that being who they are is immoral. (ACLU) After this the woman was released from her job, as it goes against the Code of Ethics within the AMA, (American Counseling Association) She tried to become reinstated on the grounds that she has a right to express her religious beliefs and views on those who are gay or bisexual.
Kim Davis is the elected clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky (CNN.com) refused to administer a marriage license to a gay couple just after gay marriage was legalized. Davis replied to a protester when they told her to “obey the law” with, “our constitution was founded on faith, by the word of God,” (CNN.com). Kim was tried in federal court. Because of uprising religious freedom laws that blatantly allow discrimination against those of the LGBT community, many large corporations and businesses have made public press releases stating that they do not support the laws/bills and do not support the discrimination they uphold. Some of these businesses include Apple, Angie’s List, and Walmart and because of this those who support the religious freedom laws have decided to boycott these businesses. When a gay couple attempted to buy flowers from a flower shop, they were refused because of their sexual preferences. This was the Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers case in Washington. The flower shop went against Washington’s anti-discrimination laws.
Religious freedom laws have also turned on women’s reproductive rights and not just the LGBT community. Some states that don’t have religious freedom laws or anti-discrimination laws have also dealt with their fair share of shunning because of their suppression of women seeking family planning. A woman, who preferred to remain unnamed, worked at a Catholic school in Missouri. She was fired when the school found out that she became pregnant outside of marriage (ACLU). Emily Herx was told she was a sinner by her pastor after she was fired from her job at a Catholic school in Indiana. Indiana has religious freedom laws. New laws besides religious freedom laws now give religious employers the right to not supply their female workers with coverage for birth control and family planning.
Our country was built off the basis of free religion. Those from England sailed to the new land to escape from the pressures put on them by the Catholic church. When in what was later called the 13 Colonies, citizens were able to freely practice any religion they please. In later years, women were accused of witchcraft. Religion would rule what was decided of women who were tried and it was said that those women were possessed by the Devil. Though our country was in fact, built to sustain the practice of free religion, it was religion that drove innocent women and children to be killed. Religion should not be used to harm those who do not follow the “man and woman” pattern. It should not be used freely to be placed against those especially within the LGBT community and otherwise.
The same religious reasoning methods were used during the civil rights movement. Theodore Bilbo was a strong advocate for segregation. He stated, “our Southern segregation way is the Christian way...[God] was the original segregationist.” (ThinkProgress.org) It is the same (predominantly) Christian way that attempts to strip the LGBT community of who they are. Especially through physiological ways like those in counseling field where the youth of the LGBT community could be strongly damaged. It is wrong that others are given the power to harm communities through the current religious freedom laws.
As a member of the LGBT community I have experienced discrimination and religious discrimination directed towards my sexuality. When I was at an art museum with my girlfriend we were asked to leave. We were hanging out around picnic tables and holding hands in a courtyard where windows overlooked when an employee of the museum stepped outside and asked us if we would leave because someone was uncomfortable. Growing up a part of the Catholic Church, we were taught that those who are gay were not made to have relationships outside of the platonic realm. As for those who are straight, they are made to spread the word of God and have families and children (multiply). This may not appear to be discrimination but was damaging to me as it was around the time I was coming out. Discrimination of any kind directed towards those who are not straight is damaging. But discrimination projected by faith towards anyone is just as bad if not more. So many people grow up in religious homes or religiously influenced homes and too many times are scarred by the words or religious beliefs imposed on them.
Religion should not be imposed on others because it can be very damaging to those. Religious freedom laws allow discrimination of many but specifically women and those of the LGBT community and these laws must be abandoned. Our country was not written in the name of God but in the name of freedom. Though expressing your religion is a part of your freedom rights it does not hold steady to the power of politics.