Quick Take: Should private businesses be allowed to turn away LGBTQ customers?
The Kansas House of Representatives recently passed a bill stating that any individual, group or private business can refuse to serve gay couples if “it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Is this bill within the state’s constitutional rights, or is it segregation on par with that against African Americans in the 1960s? Do you think this bill will even be able to become law?
Kansas House bill violates American values, Bill of Rights
By Rathna Muralidharan
America never stops boasting over all the strides that have been made since the Civil Rights movement. We are run by values and ideals of equality for everyone. We set the example for the rest of the globe as an ideal society. We proudly pledge allegiance to the flag, promising “liberty and justice for all.” But despite all the advancements we’ve made towards equality of opportunity, our country still has a long way to go. And with bills such as the one just passed by the Kansas House of Representatives, it’s hard to believe that the promises we make to ourselves and the future are just words.
The freedoms promised to all citizens in the Bill of Rights have always been held in a precarious balance. Yes, we all have individual freedoms, but do they justify violating others’ rights or mistreating them? The Kansas bill claims legality because by allowing anyone to deny service to gay couples, it protects their freedom of religion. If a person feels that their religious beliefs are being violated by being forced to serve gay couples, then they can refuse to do so. The bill also takes it a step further to include “protecting” government workers, from law enforcement workers to doctors in hospitals, allowing them to legally refuse to help gay couples in order to protect their “sincerely held religious beliefs”.
Discrimination and segregation is still as alive in the U.S. today as it was in the 1960s, except with prejudice against sexual orientation instead of the color of one’s skin. Yes, this bill will most likely never become law. Even if it passes in the state, the Supreme Court will definitely strike it down. But the damage is done already through the message it sends. Simply by allowing a bill such as this to come into existence and even be passed in a state’s branch of government sends the resounding message to all gays that they are not wanted, and will not be accepted for who they are.
There is a strong disconnect between how much the United States claims to embrace diversity, and how accepted a person of any sort of minority from race to sexual orientations feels in their own country. The battle of segregation didn’t end with the Civil Rights Movement, it was merely a milestone. Today, the fight all minorities face to be fully embraced by their nation is still raging from the woman battling to make the same wage as her male counterpart, to the gay couple in who just wants to feel safe in knowing that they can go to a restaurant or call for an ambulance, and receive the same treatment as a straight couple. “The land of the free and the home of the brave” isn’t a reality for everyone; it’s a dream we were all promised, that some are still reaching for.
Rathna Muralidharan is a freshman in the School of International Service.
Kansas bill is necessary, legal
By Zachary Andrews
When I was in Turkey last August, I had a difficult time finding alcoholic beverages due to the fact that it is a Muslim country and many businesses refuse to serve them. They had every right to do so and fully respect their beliefs. If people feel that a concept violates their religious beliefs, they should not be forced to deal with that concept.
The Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman, sodomy is a sin and that you are naturally a man or a woman. Last Tuesday, Kansas passed House Bill 2453, which enables businesses to exclude openly gay people from their establishments, and it may be what needs to be done.
Let’s look at this through a business perspective. Let’s say you run a restaurant in a town or city that has a dominant population of fundamental Christians. If two gay guys come into a restaurant and they are behaving in a manner that the residents see as perverse, there is a chance they will stop dining at the establishment and go elsewhere. I know a lot of devout Baptists who want nothing to do with anyone or anything that is congruent with non-concealed homosexuality, and there are many regions in the South where Baptists are the vast majority of the population. Therefore, I think this new law would keep businesses in those regions from going bankrupt. A law like this will only be passed in an area with a lot of religious constituents who are close-minded, and I don’t even see why someone who is gay would want to live in this kind of area. The issue is not homosexuality, it is the behavior expressed by certain individuals in the community.
In my opinion, the new law in Kansas is a backlash towards a lot of laws that grant rights that should not be allowed. A notable example would be the baker in Colorado who was forced to bake a cake for a gay couple even though it contradicted with his religious beliefs.
The most extreme example was a law passed in California in July, which grants transgender students the right to pick which bathroom they use. I feel that violates my right to pick which women see my body in a particular manner. If you are born with a penis, you are a man, and if you are born with a vagina, you are a woman. Until it can be made so a man can menstruate and a woman cannot, there is no way genders can change, thus one gender should not be given the same legal rights as the other, especially when it comes to accommodations such as bathrooms.
The other issue is people don’t understand grey areas. There is a huge difference between knowing someone is gay because you hear from a friend and knowing someone is gay because they are flamboyant and rub it in someone’s face. Disliking someone for being gay is homophobic and wrong, but not wanting to see men kissing in public is not homophobic and wrong. One could argue that people need to learn to be tolerant, but there is a difference between tolerance and acceptance.
Zachary Andrews is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs.
Kansas bill is backward, contradicts Christian values
By Katlyn Hirokawa
For a nation that claims to be forward-moving and progressive, there are still some very backward notions that reign prevalent in our country. The bill recently passed by the Kansas House of Representatives that would allow business owners to refuse service to gay couples is definitely one of them.
This type of law is reminiscent of the U.S. segregation against African-Americans until the 1960s. This bill enforces the idea that businesses have religious liberty to deny gays service, but it is clearly just a tactic to promote segregation against the LGBTQ community. Any business can just use religious liberty as an excuse.
The concept of segregation itself is extremely backward. It denies citizens basic civil rights that everyone, no matter what sexual orientation, should be guaranteed. Being denied the right to see a movie, eat at a restaurant or shop at the local grocery store is absolutely ridiculous. Discrimination against gays is simply unethical.
Not only does discrimination not make sense socially, but also in a business sense. The businesses that chooses to discriminate against gays will lose business from both the gay population and supporters of the LGBTQ community. Many Kansas citizens who do not actively and directly support the LGBTQ community would find this discrimination offensive.
This bill is not based on religion but rather homophobia. As a Christian, I find that this type of bill is the opposite of what my religion promotes, which is acceptance and love. Using religion as an excuse to segregate is just putting lipstick on a pig. The U.S. seems to be moving on a gradual course away from homophobia, so Kansas should realize that we live in 2014 not the 1950s.
Katlyn Hirokawa is a freshman in the School of Communication.