Gay Rights and the Religious Invasion of the Public Space by Thomas Martin Saturday

The time is always right to do something right

The recent spate of anti-gay rights laws in many States speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding of the U.S. Constitution, and an invasion of the individual’s public space that violates the human rights of all American citizens.

While the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does in fact protect full religious freedom, it is freedom from government interference in a person’s faith or creed, and their individual non-public space that is their bodily persons, their home, their church and the free association with those that believe as they do.

What it is not, nor ever has been, is the right and freedom to restrict the free association of others in the public space such as the streets, places of business, public accommodation, and anywhere where people generally may congregate and interact.

Business outlets that are open to the general public must serve everyone, and not just those they approve of. It is as the old Supreme Court case Munn v. Illinois said it, that they are “clothed in a public interest.” They operate in public, and there is the expectation that they will provide goods or services to any with an interest and an ability to pay.

Our Federal and State laws recognize that public business operations are also subject to regulation for safety concerns, taxation, their effect on a given community, and a whole plethora of civil rights laws protecting the opportunities and rights of all of us to equal treatment under the law.

That’s why the proposed laws in so many states seeking to protect and insulate Christians from what they perceive to be ungodly and wicked people, who merely have a minority sexual orientation or gender identity, is actually a grievous injury upon those minorities or any minority that may receive sanctions from business or religious sects. It mocks the civil rights protections for all citizens hard won under our Constitution and laws that have preceded them.

Everyone understands that these Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA’s) all seek to license various forms of bigotry directed at the public in the public space. No one has been forced or will be forced to marry gay couples or to associate in the activities and lives of LGBT people if they do not wish to. It won’t and does not happen. These laws are a means to strike back at reformers who simply want equality before the law.

In public where we naturally expect to encounter all sorts of people, none of us has the right to tell others how they shall live or associate with others with the legal authority of the State to back them up. This is lunacy and it is deeply violating the human rights of so many decent people.

If how others live offends you, other than necessary passing on the street and public business, everyone is free to shun others in private or in their Constitutionally protected speech.. Though the personal emotional advantages of this when the people who discriminate against minorities actually damage the soul of the discriminator and restrict the freedom of the discriminated.

One would think the civil rights struggles of modern America in the last century and a half would be enough for any educated American to see how wrong, and even unlawful this all is.

The nation is changing. That happens with the passage of decades and even centuries of time. We humans must adapt to these changes. And when we additionally live in a Republic where the rule of law and the civil or human rights of citizens is highly valued, we must respect each other’s humanity and rights to equality and the oft quoted pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. We simply don’t get to muzzle the rights of others to salve our personal prejudices. But that’s what all these RFRA’s are aimed at.

The Constitution of the United States offers legal protections from the interference or unfair treatment by the government, and the necessary private space we all need for living apart from what we do in the public space defined here. These laws actually reach out to restrict the rights of others where their behavior or status does not violate common laws that apply to us all. Yes, if a gay man murders somebody it is the act he commits that is unlawful and not the fact he’s gay.

Simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered in America does not imply or mean any greater propensity to violate our laws or harm others. RFRA’s are merely the extension of personal prejudices and bigotry to the freedom and opportunity of others to enjoy what the proponents of these laws insist they enjoy and do.

When an LGBT person goes out in public to do the public business we all do when we interact, they do not engage in sexual acts or practices that offend the general level of public morals defined by State and local statute. IF they do, they get arrested like anybody else.

But if they want a pizza or cake or something, sell it to them; make your money and shut up about not liking them personally. Let them be treated as you expect to be treated. RFRA’s are inherently unconstitutional and more immoral than anything the anti-gay haters think LGBT persons do whether true or not. It is not relevant. People must be free to live and have the same opportunities as others in a position of equality as citizens with all other citizens.

Get that you guys?

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