Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Kansas anti-gay bill

I'm currently in Los Angeles visiting the grandchildren so I'm a bit more exposed to American culture than normal. I watched several discussions on the Kansas anti-gay bill on television and one thing struck me as highly unusual.

For the sake of non-Americans, let's begin with a description of the bill passed by the Kansas House, which is dominated by Republicans. Here's what Bill 2453 says ...

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender: (a) Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement; (b) solemnize any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement; or (c) treat any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement as valid.
In other words, if you are a bigot then the state will protect you from prosecution as long as you claim that your bigotry is based on religion.

The bill was expected to pass through the Kansas Senate and signed into law by a redneck governor. Fortunately for Kansas, the Republican-dominated senate decided that Kansas should drop out of the competition for most stupid state and they declined to pass the bill [Kansas Senate Comes To It’s Senses And Nixes Extreme Anti-Gay Legislation ].

That's not what I want to talk about. What I witnessed on the American TV channels was a debate over the legality of discrimination of gays. The discussion hinged on whether it was legal for an anti-gay bigot to refuse to serve a gay couple in a restaurant or whether an anti-gay bigot could refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. Almost everyone I saw on TV agreed that it was perfectly okay for Americans to be anti-gay bigots, especially if their bigotry was related to their belief in God. The only serious question seemed to be whether there were legitimate times when anti-gay bigots could express their bigotry in public.

I read some newspaper articles, and some blog posts, that stated the obvious. It is totally wrong, all the time, to discriminate against someone based on their sexual preferences. If they use religion as an excuse then they should re-evaluate their religion. There is NEVER a time when an enlightened society should tolerate, let alone legalize, bigotry. I guess it's almost impossible to come out and say this on television, or maybe I'm just watching the wrong channels (mostly FOX and CNN).

I'm reminded of a statement by Winston Churchill about Russia; "Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." That's the way I feel about the United States. There's such a huge difference between Boston and Texas that I wonder how they can both continue to exist in the same country.