We’re on the frontlines yet again. My home state, Georgia, just tried to pass an RFRA bill. These so-called “Religious Freedom” bills are the next battleground for queer rights. It’s time to start fighting.
Georgia comes as no surprise. If an R.F.R.A. bill passes, the Deep South state will further disenfranchise gay people, and this, in the end, will hurt its economy. We are Georgia’s business owners and industry leaders. We made Atlanta the city it is today. Atlanta is a film destination — several Marvel blockbusters are slated to film in the city and many hit TV shows already do. We’ll see how these businesses, which are funneling enormous revenue into the state, will respond when their gay employees no longer feel safe moving here for work.
As for me, I’m ready to go. Let’s abandon the red state to rot in the trash of history. In thirty years, the children of homophobic lawmakers will shamefully vote away these bills.
But it’s not so simple. Queer Jim Crow laws should be a terrifying concept for anyone who remembers what state-sanctioned discrimination looks like — anyone old enough to remember America’s not-too-distant history. Jim Crow took a long time to eradicate and doing so was an uphill battle against deeply-rooted racism.
The LGBTQ community threatens our enemies because we are currently winning. Their modern far-right conservatism is a response movement — they’re unnerved at seeing queers on TV and they recognize a tectonic shift in public opinion. According to statistics, support for LGBT rights has doubled among people of all ages in the United States since 2000. With more exposure and conversation about LGBT Rights happening in mainstream media, attitudes across generations are changing.
I don’t know where you live, but if you’re in a conservative state, it has likely proposed a bill protecting religious freedom — or passed one. To kill these bills, we must call our state representatives. Write to your legislators. And most importantly, vote for the progressive party and the progressive candidate. The population of the country that is the most socially liberal — millennials and anyone born in the late ’80s and early ’90s — is the community that statistically does not show up at the polls, certainly not for midterm elections. That has to change.
If you have religious friends who embrace you but support these measures, ask them why. Ask them to explain why they think you’re a second-class citizen, and why they want to give antigay businesses the legally-protected freedom to refuse you service. We don’t know how these bills would work in practice, but theoretically, a doctor will be able to claim “religious freedom” and say it’s against his faith to perform a life-saving surgery on a gay or transgender patient — and will be legally protected from legal ramifications in doing so.
Let’s not mince words: these bills will cause the deaths of queer people. It was never about a wedding cake. It was about principle: do we allow prejudice against a minority population as a country — do we allow our dark history of doing so to continue — or do we not?
Buckle down. This one’s going to get brutal.
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