Gay Rights: An Unnecessary Battle
As a gay American I am repeatedly warned throughout the media that my status as a citizen and my constitutionally held rights are at the very mercy of an angry, bigoted and unreasonable mob of Christian authoritarians controlling the country. This is evidenced by the opposition to same-sex marriage and states like Arizona and Mississippi (among others) passing “anti-gay” segregation laws. Liberal articles declare that even my ability to receive HIV treatment is at risk, as did the Huffington Post in an article stating: "...restaurants could turn away same-sex couples celebrating an anniversary, and pharmacists could refuse HIV... drugs.”
Allow me to consider the weight of this claim and provide a reasonable perspective in response. The assumption is that if given the legal authority, Christians would readily exploit said laws to intentionally discriminate against gay, lesbian, transgendered, or any other category of person they do not support religiously. The result would be a world similar to pre-1960’s America in which black people were denied access to restaurants and other businesses. Naturally this would be a nightmare for Jews, women, and other minorities who rely on the continued fight against conservative demands for domination of the public voice and public policy.
The curious thing, however, is that Christians currently have the ability to discriminate against gays, or whomever they wish, in all walks of life and yet do not take advantage of said power. America is a majority Christian country and so logically my personal experience, as well as the experience of all non-Christian Americans should be heavily restricted in terms of everyday access to goods and services according to liberal cries of outrage. Somehow we walk freely and unmolested.
To examine the idea that, if allowed to have become law, the Arizona bill (SB 1062) would have allowed pharmacists to refuse HIV prescriptions, we must first consider the current state of pharmacists in America. Are Christian pharmacists currently or have they in the recent past refused gay customers or denied filling HIV prescriptions as a result of their religious beliefs? Has a Christian-owned pharmacy or store containing a pharmacy made a policy to selectively deny HIV medication requests? Have Christians working in the prescription industry boycotted, or refused to sell, produce, or distribute HIV medications? Have Christian medical professionals or scientists refused to participate in the innovation of HIV drugs or actively stood in the way of their advancement?
Take a step back and see if any Christian doctors have refused to treat gay HIV patients or prescribe them HIV treatment. Are there Christian organizations devoted, even in part, to boycotting, suing, protesting, or limiting the innovation, sales, distribution or fulfillment of HIV treatment drugs to gay patients? Do Christian churches, in any form, across the country advocate against HIV treatment for gays?
The answer is, of course, that all of the above would be ridiculous. Christians working in the medical profession simply do not have any concern whatsoever with assisting gay patients with HIV treatment, or any treatment for that matter. Christians do not have a moral opposition to treating gay people with any disease, let alone HIV.
These sets of questions can be applied to any industry across our nation. Are Christian restaurant owners currently refusing to serve gays? Is there even a single instance of a Christian restaurant owner silencing and removing a gay couple from their establishment once it was discovered they were celebrating a romantic anniversary? Gays are not denied entry into any public space owned by Christians. Gays are not limited to what they can and cannot purchase in any store or establishment open to the public. Gays are not excluded from Christian themed stores, restaurants, or theme parks. Gays aren’t even restricted from entering churches across the land!
To be sure, gays experience absolutely no limitation of their natural rights and this includes the right to bear arms, to vote, or the right to free speech, assembly or religion. Gays are not restricted in legal protections, property ownership, reproduction, education, business creation, taxation, political activism, or any other activity, civil or otherwise, enjoyed by all Americans. Actually, gays are not intentionally excluded under any law in the land.
Any law, policy or decision made by a business or government office that liberal gay activists cite as proof of their second-class citizenship can be more accurately understood in terms of discrimination towards single individuals in favor of married couples. Classic examples of hospital visits, property transfers, and adoption are misrepresented as “anti-gay” when they are actually issues related to being single. If a gym offers a “spousal discount” and a gay couple is denied, this is not an “anti-gay” policy. Any couple not married would be denied this discount. The same can be argued in all other cases. Examples related to interracial discrimination are invalid. If a man and a woman of a certain age and status (not currently married, citizen) are eligible under state law to be legally recognized as married but a new law is introduced to specifically prevent a black and white coupling then it is understood as intentional discrimination. Gay people are not intentionally excluded from marriage; the coupling was just not anticipated. Same-sex marriage is really a request to add to the current state eligibility requirements for recognition.
Gays have equal access to the same legal mechanisms and free-market options all Americans have to influence desired changes in policy or law. Conservatives encourage and support this fully despite not always agreeing on the desired goal. Any addition to law or policy to benefit same-sex couples is currently possible.
To further the point, Christians do not oppose legal recognition or access for gays. The opposition to same–sex marriage has nothing to do with limiting access to property transfers or hospital visits for gays. If this were the case Christians would be protesting hospitals that offer services to gay couples, protesting legal firms that negotiate property transfers for gay couples after death and suing to nullify wills written by gay people designating property or funds to their partner or children. Christians have no interest in interfering with the personal lives of gay Americans. Civil Unions are barely a concern at all and only become a point of interest when used as a tool to enforce gay mores onto public opinion.
The reality is that Christians, as a general group, are uninterested in discrimination and conservatives are typically focused on curtailing liberal overreach. Christians are not protesting gay weddings just as Christian bakers did not kick out gay clients preceding the controversy in Arizona. The issue is on liberal enforcement of their values as an absolute that we, as Conservatives and Libertarians, fight. We oppose business owners being coerced into participating or associating with events they deeply oppose religiously. I, as a gay Jewish person, have nothing to fear in regards to my rights from Christian interference. The work of Christians and Conservatives alike is to ensure the natural rights of all citizens are preserved. There simply is no evidence to the contrary.
Chad Felix Greene, author of Jewish Children’s Books, Non–Fiction and Social Commentary (www.chadfelixgreene.com)