By Alberto Pupo
Progress, this is what we hope society will eventually embrace. The last week or so has been anything but Progressive for the State of Arizona. In a strange turn Arizona lawmakers actually had the gall to pass a bill that would legalize discrimination by businesses against the LGBT community on the basis of wait for it… religious freedom! This bill a modern day revival of the infamous Jim Crow laws was passed by state lawmakers in an attempt to stem the tide of Progress. The backlash was fast and furious and the result as of yesterday a positive one as Uber Conservative and Ayn Rand lookalike Jan Brewer did the improbable she vetoed it! As odd as it may be we must be thankful despite the selfish reasons for her veto (the state would have lost thousands if not millions). The depressing lesson of this situation however is a particular worry as to what may be happening in America.
The LGBT community is under fire. Before the Arizona bill Georgia and Kansas had been promoting and fervently trying to pass Hate Legislation. Arizona this week did what the other states could not do and actually pass the legislation. The response was overwhelming, in some cases even staunch Conservatives joined more Progressive minded individuals in decrying the law. Eventually after several Corporate threats and potential PR nightmares, Governor Jan Brewer in an effort to preserve her political career and keep her monetary backers happy decided to veto the bill. While a major bullet has been dodged and a sigh of relief can be heard across the Nation the part we must be concerned about is why is this even happening in the first place? Clearly because of newer more Progressive generations America has been moving toward a more open minded progressive mentality.
However while we move to Progress the older more Conservative Generations grow desperate. These individuals who want to conserve and return to a world full of discrimination and hatred are trying every attempt to keep the hate going. The Social Conservative Right is watching their time slip away and in order to pass the torch of hate to new standard bearers in the younger generation they are trying a new tactic “religious freedom”.
Religious Freedom is a part of our 1st Amendment Rights. Because it is part part of our most cherished Amendment it is a principle that is highly respected and protected even by the most secular individuals. The Millennial Generation while not a highly religious generation is a generation that respects the freedoms of others especially in the context of the 1st Amendment. The Arizona bill and those that came before it gained traction on the whole notion of religious freedom. The con artists from the right eventually peddled the notion that discrimination against the LGBT Community is “protected by the constitution”. They sell a fantasy in which they pain themselves as Godly Men and Women who cannot exercise their “freedom of religion” because of the “Gay Agenda”. By spinning this fantasy they move the issue of LGBT Civil Rights and transform it into a an issue of “religious freedom”. This is not a new tactic as it was the same one used to try and stop free contraception for women that was a part of the Affordable Healthcare Act. The concept of religious freedom is being muddled purposely with the intent to use it as a blunt tool of discrimination against anyone and anything that the Religious Zealots on the Right cannot tolerate.
We the people of this Nation must be very careful. Just because a bill is written in a language which seems to be defending freedom, does not mean it is something positive. In our current society we must understand that religious freedom has already been achieved. This is not some new crusade that needs to be embarked on as those of faith (especially the Christian faith). Usually get the benefit of the doubt and are free to practice their relgion as they see fit. However practicing religion does not mean they have the right to discriminate and infringe on the rights of others. So we must be carefuil as freedom of religion currently means the right to discriminate.