Freedom of Religion versus Equal Protection: Gay Rights in Arizona

I’ve been kicking around a peculiar train of thought for a while.  It’s spurned on by insane legal edicts like the one submitted, today, to Arizona’s governor Jan Brewer.  Gay Rights activists are livid because this bill would, according to CNN, permit the owners of private enterprises to discriminate against homosexuals if it fit their religious preference.  In particular, it allows businessmen to refuse to serve homosexuals.  I’m a firm believer in the Bill Of Rights and all that, and a tremendous supporter of religious liberty.  I don’t believe in the government establishing its favorites, influencing the practices of a particular denomination, and I certainly don’t believe in it restricting the practices of any faith.  The government has no right telling individuals what or how they should exercise their religion.

The catch is, and has always been that it may not allow individuals to practice their faith at the expense of other individuals.  First, the facts.


Problem One:  Biblical Consistency And Hypocrisy.

I should note that I believe that those who love to hide behind Christianity without abiding by Christ’s rules, such as “Turn the other cheek” and “do unto others” are not actually Christian, but are in fact “Christian.”

The most popular Bible quote used to attack homosexuality is that of Leviticus 18:22, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”  They additionally point out rules in Leviticus 20:13 which stipulate that homosexuals should be killed.  I guess that merely being refused service is an action of American generosity?  After all, if murdering gays is out of the question, we can at least make life uncomfortable for them, right?  Is that what Christ would say?  No, he’d say “Love Thy Enemy.”  Hence, those who buy into Leviticus are, by my personal recollection, “Christian.”

Courtesy of TheFreaksangels.

Scholars don’t have to go far to find other ridiculous laws in Leviticus, laws that most “Christians” fail to uphold, even as they insist upon their bigotry.  This lovely image to your left, courtesy of The Freaksangels, points out one such hypocrisy.  How many “Christians” have gotten tattoos at some point in their lives?  Sure, if they have decided to reform as though they were “Born Again,” that may make be fair.  But how many judge homosexuals?


Here’s another, much more depressing image associated with Leviticus’ sterling moral code, the one in that book supposedly written by the God of these “Christians?”  It’s taken from the Bible As Literature blog, and it’s as depressing as it is accurate.


Image courtesy of Bible As Literature blog

Slavery is certainly authorized in Leviticus; if you curse your father, you’ve earned a death sentence (20:9).  The list of ridiculous prohibitions goes on, from problems with menstruation to how to handle the victim of a rape.  None of the “Christians” so worried about gay rights activists forcing them to betray their “faith” by serving homosexuals seem to be worried about the modern-day, inflation-adjusted value of shekels in the trade of slaves.

But maybe the initial hypocrisy isn’t enough to convince people.  Maybe, regardless of number of restrictions that have been cast to the wayside or even smitten like Sodom, the issue is simply that religion is a lovely pretext to deny homosexuals equal rights.  In that case, we’re left with a second question in mind.

Religion Is Through Choice, Homosexuality Is Through Birth

While the debate no-doubt rages, Paul Mountjoy of The Washington Times put out an article in April of 2013 reviewing changes made to the American Psychiatric Association which indicate an acceptance that being homosexual is not a choice.  What this means, simply, is that being gay is the same as being Black, or female, or handicapped:  It is something you are born as.  There is, again, still a raging argument on this topic, but when it comes to enforcing constitutional rights, I’m admittedly a liberal:  If there might be a right, it should be defended until it is proven there isn’t one.

In this case, that right is the Fourteenth Amendment – Equal Protection.  Americans may not be discriminated against for circumstances of their birth.  Period.  The government cannot approve a law which allows discrimination.  The constitution also stipulates, via the first amendment, that the government cannot infringe the individual’s right to religious practice.  Fine.  However, two problems exist.

First, a question:  At what point do the rights of one person extend into the sphere of the rights of another?

Second, a fact:  While being gay is may not be a choice, one’s religion is a choice.

Don’t believe me?  People regularly convert from one religion to another.  I have friends who have converted from Judaism to Christianity.  I have others who have converted from Catholicism to Protestantism, or vice-versa.  People take “stranger” jumps, becoming Muslims or Hindus or – I know this is scary for some people to picture – becoming Wiccan or even Athiest!  Your religion – and, as we’ve clearly seen, how strictly you take its tenets – are a choice that can be changed on what might seem to an outsider like a whim!

Therefore, I think I’m left with a question that Gay Rights activists need to seize upon, here:  At what point does a right to a choice (that is, to choose a religion that codifies murdering homosexuals) supercede the rights of a person born with a certain orientation?

In other words:  Can “religious expression,” which is a choice, really trump the fact that gays are born gay?  My answer is a big fat no.

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