Anti-gay activists in Mississippi are celebrating victory over gay activists. A new law, known as the “religious freedom” law, has been passed in the state. This law allows people in the state to discriminate against people they identify as homosexual, or sexually deviant. These attitudes toward gay culture in America bring to mind the atrocities that have occurred overseas. These atrocities that American activists of all backgrounds are upset by. If Americans feel that Putin is wrong to do what he is doing to gay individuals in Russia, Americans should be thinking about how we treat our homosexual sub-culture domestically.
When you look at gay laws in the United States that match the anti-gay “Propaganda” law in Russia, you find that eight of our states have already hopped on that bandwagon. Some long before the Russian version was even thought of. These states include: Utah, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and South Carolina. South Dakota and Missouri only have laws that ban hate-crimes or bullying in schools against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ) youth. Once they are adults, they are fair game. If Americans expect to make change in other countries, they will first have to look at how we can fix our own perceptions. American activists need to put more effort into making America an example of equality, not a country of false promises and hypocrites.
Legislators speculate that lobbyists are attempting to pass through any discriminatory law they can. This is especially true in states like New Mexico and Arizona, who have been trying to pass discriminatory legislature. These bills are attempting to bar homosexuals from stores that do not want homosexuality in their shop. The new “religious freedom” law, though it is not marketed this way, offers a loophole of religious belief. This means that shop-keepers can refuse service to someone they believe is homosexual based on their self-presentation. States like Mississippi may be celebrating victory, but really it is sneaky compromise.
The law was made to “relieve the burden” put on religious institutions by the passing laws that promoted equality. These religious businesses will not be required to follow all federal laws, because they are separate. This brings to mind the separation of church and state. At this point, Mississippi does not have any legislation that states it is illegal to discriminate a homosexual person. Technically this means that businesses can already refuse service to these individuals.
In at least four American states, teachers are told exactly how they should teach lessons on homosexuality. Texas and Alabama are the extremes in this case. Teachers in these states are required to teach that homosexuality is inherently wrong, and anyone who is gay is an abomination. States like Arizona and Utah, do not allow teachers to cast positive light on people who identify as homosexual. These laws are problematic because they allow American people to be lied to and mislead from a young age. These ideals against homosexuality only increase stigmas against the group in these areas, and can even lead to greater levels of depression and anxiety in these young people. States like Mississippi need to think harder about religious freedoms, and learn to celebrate acceptance and victory over discrimination.
Opinion by Joshua Shane