Matt Olson, Copy Editor
On Tuesday, Mississippi’s House Bill 1523 was signed into law. The bill enables discrimination of LGBTQ individuals on the basis of “religious liberty.” Businesses can refuse service to LGBT individuals and families while trans individuals may be required to use the restroom facilities on the basis of one’s birth gender.
On March 23, North Carolina’s House Bill 2 was enacted as a response to a bill in Charlotte that allowed for LGBTQ protections, including permitting trans individuals the right to use restroom facilities based on their gender identities.
Opponents to such protections argue that trans individuals in the “wrong” bathroom pose a threat to women and children, but these arguments only paint trans individuals as horrifying “others” and sexual deviants. They forget (or ignore) the fact that trans people are people too. At the same time, supporters of HB2 are the sort who tend not to grant humanity (and thusly legal protections) to anyone non-white, non-male, non-Christian, non-hetero and non-cisgender.
In full, HB2 denies LGBT employees the right to sue employers for wrongful discrimination. Though same-sex couples across the nation are welcome to marry, in many states, LGBT individuals can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This legislation serves no purpose other than to make LGBT individuals more vulnerable than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.
The bills in Mississippi and North Carolina are echoed in bills proposed in Kansas and Missouri that would prevent trans individuals from using the restroom facilities that apply to their gender identities on public school campuses, including public universities.
The issue with so-called “religious liberty” bills is that religion is used as an attempt to justify discrimination, a notion that runs counter to the principles of Christianity, the religion most backers of these bills follow. These people hide behind claims of religious beliefs to pass legislation allowing them to assert their supposed superiority on a minority population.
Part of their motivation stems from the fact that, unless you’re a Donald Trump supporter or a co-host on “Fox & Friends” (or, let’s face it, any Fox News programming), expressing negative views on racial minorities has largely fallen out of favor with the general population. Racism is far from dead, but it’s no longer the “cool” form of discrimination that it used to be.
With anti-gay discrimination, however, “religious objections” have the potential to seem valid, regardless of the fact that these objections are used to deny services to LGBTQ individuals on the basis of what’s essentially personal disapproval.
Bringing up “religious freedom” bills as a means of discrimination suggests that the religious right is determined to stay on the wrong side of history.