From Full Civil Equality to Anti-Gay Jim Crow In Less Than Five Years
by Dan Savage
on Tue, Feb 8, 2011 at 9:57 AM
That's what will happen if Republican elected officials* in Iowa get their way:
It would be legal for an Iowa business owner who cites religious beliefs to refuse to provide jobs, housing, goods or services to people involved in a marriage that violates his or her religious convictions, according to a bill an Iowa House subcommittee will consider on Wednesday. House Study Bill 50, called the Religious Conscience Protection Act, would allow a person, business or organization such as a charity or fraternal group to deny services without fear of facing a civil claim or lawsuit if they think doing so would validate or recognize same-sex relationships.
The language of the bill is so broadly worded that it would also be legal for Iowans to discriminate against straight couples so long as the bigot can point to faith—e.g., a business owner could refuse service to a couple in an inter-faith marriage or to unmarried heterosexuals who live together or to couples known to use contraception, and on and on. Says the legislation's sponsor...
Anderson wants to ban same-sex marriage, a step that would drive state policy toward responsible procreation, he said on the floor of the House last week.
State policy can procreate? Is that why government is so big? (Seriously, Iowa: Do you really think that legal gay marriage is making straight people gay? Or that banning gay marriage will make gay people straight? Or that banning gay marriage will somehow transform those irresponsible, meth-smoking Iowa breeders who abuse, neglect, and abandon their kids into responsible parents and procreators?)
In order to justify their desire to discriminate against gay people, the few remaining homophobes have concocted a scenario where they are The Real Victims. They can say what they want, set up churches or mosques that preach what they want, and turn away gay people from their homes every day of the week if they so desire—and I would defend every one of those rights to the last ditch. There is only one thing they can’t do. They can’t choose to offer a service to the general public, and then turn people away on the basis of race or sexuality. They can’t put up de facto signs saying ‘No blacks, no Irish, no gays’ at their B&B.
This isn’t a form of prejudice—it is a way of preventing prejudice. Nobody will ever force you to work in a registry office or open a B&B, but if you choose to, you can’t reject the gay couples and expect to remain in post. (In one case where this happened, they offered her a job in the office instead, but she chose to be a bizarre cause célèbre of prejudice instead.) Services for the general public have to be available without contamination by bigotry. It’s a simple principle. Don’t demand the right to spit in the face of gay people, and claim you’re being picked on when you’re asked to stop.
Yes, I know your religious texts mandate bigotry against gay people. They also mandate slavery and stoning adulterers, and they laud a God who feeds small children to bears (see II Kings ii, 23-24).