Alabama..as in that Alabama became the 36th state to legalize gay marriage recently. Alabama.
Georgia, their equally hilarious and profoundly stereotyped neighbor, is among only several states which ban civil unions, so if you are gay and live in Georgia, then tough cookies. Apparently, the Georgia state government (among others) is attempting to pass legislature at a state level which would allow locally owned businesses or individuals to refuse service to a person based on sexual orientation.
Before I get too far into this, I’m not here for a moral debate. The goal of this article isn’t to convince you whether or not to accept homosexuality or be a champion for gay marriage. I do, however, want to lay out all the facts in an orderly manner that allows the big picture to gain some clarity.
That being said, a law which would basically ban a homosexual couple from a restaurant, for example, is very reminiscent of another huge mistake the South made a few centuries ago (as recently as 1954, in fact) when they mandated “Jim Crow” laws, which segregated African-Americans from stuff white people liked, which happened to be pretty much everything. Of course, the state legislature isn’t simply allowing business to refuse service to gay couples because they hate gays. That would be absurd! No, instead they are setting up this law to protect “religious integrity.”
Full disclosure: I’m a Christian. I’m also keen on geography. The only thing the Southeastern United States loves more than college football is the word of God, so it really offends me when I hear an entire region of people wants to discriminate an entire subset of people based on their sexual orientation. And, for the record, this has NOTHING to do with gay marriage. A Christian has every right to defend the sanctity of marriage, just like anyone else has the right to defend marriage equality, but no person should be set on excluding a portion of the population based on an observable fact that doesn’t affect them in any way. If a gay couple goes into a Georgia restaurant and is refused service based on their sexual orientation because the owners “are defending their religion” then perhaps it’s time these restaurant owners take a step back an examine the meaning of their religion. The Bible has numerous examples of Jesus serving people, regardless of their situation. Matthew 25, Proverbs 19, and James 2 are some of my favorites, and believe me, there are countless other examples of verses that basically say, “dude, don’t be a jerk; just serve your brothers here on earth and be a decent person.” In fact, one could argue refusing to serve someone based on their sexual orientation is equally as sinful as engaging in the act in the first place.
As far as it seems society has evolved, its sad that it always reverts back to this primitive era of shaming those who aren’t in agreement with the consensus. Unless federal legislation is passed that will adopt same-sex marriage, make no mistake, the state of Georgia will NEVER formally adopt legally recognized gay marriages. This means not only are you and your partner stuck without marriage, odds are good you can’t even get a sandwich in some diners in the state of Georgia if you’re gay.
Is legislation preventing goods and services from gay people really about “protecting religious liberties”, or is it about maintaining the cultural stereotype of Southerners hating gay people. Alabama seems to be headed in the right direction, Georgia, so maybe it’s time to do the same. Or better yet, elect people who won’t 37-15 to pass legislation prohibiting certain people from enjoying the same goods and services as everyone else.