On Friday, President Barack Obama said that the anti-LGBT laws passed in Mississippi and North Carolina “should be overturned” in a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron. While the move was certainly an effort to save face internationally, it also makes a point to the American people that such blatant injustice shall not stand.
In Mississippi, the bill HB 1523 allows businesses and public employees to discriminate against LGBT people and protect three religious beliefs. These beliefs are that marriage is between a man and a woman, sexual relations should only occur within a heterosexual marriage and “biological sex” cannot be changed.
Now we fully agree that no one should have something they don’t necessarily care for pushed onto them, but how could you pass a bill that infringes on someone’s sexuality, a trait they simply can’t control? The assumption that it’s OK to disenfranchise a group of people based upon their sexuality is no better than segregation or the age-old (and repugnant) idea that skin color dictates the success and equality of individuals in what is supposed to be a free nation.
People are calling the anti-LGBT bill in North Carolina “the most hateful law passed in the past decade.” Gov. Pat McCrory’s anti-LGBT HB 2 eliminates existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents any protection from being passed by cities in the future. It also prevents transgender students in public schools from using restrooms that coordinate with their gender identity.
HB 2 also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in publicly owned buildings, including in public universities, major airports and convention centers. Even further, HB 2 takes away the ability to sue under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, religion, national origin and sex.
Lawmakers passed the legislation with no hesitation in a single-day session, and McCrory quickly approved it on March 23. Now, the discriminatory law is facing legal backlash. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said he will refuse to defend it in court. During an interview, Cooper commented HB 2 is a “national embarrassment,” and went on to say that it “will set North Carolina’s economy back if we don’t repeal it.”
Local businesses in both states have already received major backlash due to the bills. On April 20, the Foreign Office in Britain issued an advisory for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers going to the two states based on the laws, and rightfully so.
Celebrities, musicians and even private industry have also publicly stated they will not be visiting the states due to the hateful connotations surrounding the new laws in hopes to influence the same behavior throughout the globe.
With the basis of these two bills heavily surrounding the idea of religious beliefs, are legislatures staying true to the ideals to our Founding Fathers? The First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. It sure sounds like the lawmakers in North Carolina are trying to accommodate for a specific group of “religious beliefs” and sneakily trying to infringe on every American’s right to be who they are. These bills are absurd. They are some of the most outwardly discriminatory legislation to be passed in recent memory, and their mere existence is an affront to a nation that so prides itself on being the “land of the free.” To the people that are affected by this first hand, we apologize. We apologize that you are facing implications based off moronic laws that were passes on the basis of a lack of understanding and intolerance that shouldn’t be acceptable. To the legislatures in North Carolina and Mississippi, shame on you. Shame on you for targeting the rights of individuals on the basis of their sexuality and sexual identity. Maybe if you spent as much energy in getting to understand the LGBT+ community as you did into the hateful bills you created and passed, you’d come to your senses and see that not everyone is cut from the same cloth.
That’s the theoretical beauty of America, that people of all colors, creeds, denominations and sexual identities can live together in harmony protected under the same law. Unfortunately, it’s never been the case. Even though the nation has taken significant strides toward equality in recent decades, it’s laws like this that make the American dream even more elusive for anyone that doesn’t fit a conservative’s outdated moral narrative.
The Nevada Sagebrush asks you to stand up for what is right. You do not need to support the LGBT community, you don’t even need to like them, but you should respect your fellow Americans’ right to humanity, regardless of sexuality or sexual identity. We have lost too many people at the mercy of feeling different or being told they aren’t accepted by society due to something they have no control over.
To the people who support these bills put yourself in the shoes of an individual in the LGBT community and think about all of the hatred and discomfort that person is feeling. Have you ever thought that maybe they aren’t the problem, but you’re insecure, ignorant views are? The reality is that we are all Americans, and as such we all deserve the same rights.
The Nevada Sagebrush editorial board can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.