The already absurd anti-gay politics of the Republicans have reached critical mass in that some states have jumped on the bandwagon of “Turn Away the Gays” laws. Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, and now Georgia have or are currently pushing for Jim Crow-esque anti-gay laws that would overjoy Vladimir Putin.
These anti-gay laws enable businesses and other establishments to deny goods and services to people who are even suspected of being gay. Each of the laws are introduced under the guise of religious protections, meaning if one’s perceived lifestyle offends the religious beliefs of a business owner, services can be denied by the offended party.
The state of Georgia is the newest among states joining the bandwagon to implement this broad, overreaching legislation as a bill is moving through the Georgia House of Representatives. The bill allows businesses to discriminate against gays by banning them from getting jobs in the service industry.
The bill, named the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, was designed to override already-established civil rights laws, including an Atlanta city ordinance that protects the LGBT community from discrimination while seeking housing, work, and other public amenities.
“The bill was filed and is being pushed solely because that’s what all the cool conservative kids are doing, and because it sends a message of defiance to those who believe that gay Americans ought to be treated the same as everybody else,” wrote Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman. “Passing it would seriously stain the reputation of Georgia and the Georgia Legislature.”
Republican lawmakers in Arizona have already started to experience signs of alienation among major businesses. Apple and Delta Airlines have threatened the state of Arizona that they will remove themselves from the state if Gov. Jan Brewer signs their anti-gay, “religious freedom” bill into law. Professional sports organizations are even voicing opposition to the bill.
The state’s professional basketball teams, the Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, have asked the Arizona state legislature not to pass the law. The franchise’s have not said whether or not they will pull their operations out of the state. The National Football League, however, has not only announced opposition to the bill, but said the league might withdraw its bid to host the 2015 Super Bowl in Phoenix if the law passes.
More heinously, the state of Idaho’s gay-Jim Crow bill extends beyond businesses into classrooms and doctors’ offices. Idaho’s bill will allow doctors to deny treatment to gay people without the danger of losing their license to practice medicine. School teachers and college professors will be allowed kick gay students out of their classrooms regardless of any anti-discrimination policy instituted by the school.
These laws will cause a blowback that conservative lawmakers are apparently too shortsighted to foresee. The laws send the wrong message as they endorse discrimination and undermine American civil rights. This is a no-brainer issue, and many LGBT-advocacy groups and corporations, which are generally EOE companies, are speaking out against the laws.
The state of Kansas got wise and dropped its discriminative, anti-gay legislation earlier this month. Idaho, Arizona, Georgia, and the other states pursuing similar laws would benefit from doing themselves the favor of following suit.