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So in Arizona they’re working on a bill that would allow store owners to deny services to people whose lifestyles violate their beliefs. While this is being couched in “anti-gay” terms, the truth is that it would work for any religion against anyone. So where a Christian wedding planner could deny their services to a Gay couple, it could even be used by a Muslim business owner being allowed to refuse service to Jews, Christians, Pagans, etc, because they are Infidels. And so on and so forth.

Much is being made about this bill and if it is protecting the rights of the religious, or discriminating against gays (apparently anyone else who could be discriminated doesn’t count). People are acting as if it can be only one or the other. Those who support the bill state its being put into effect to prevent those who run their businesses based on their religious views from being persecuted and prosecuted by courts that try to legislate the laws rather than just enforce them. The GLBT community is insisting its there to persecute them for their lifestyle choices.

However, what people are failing to realize is that it is both, simultaneously! This bill does allow discrimination, because it is protecting the views of those who are discriminatory. That being said, banning the law is also discrimination, because it is enforcing the views of one group over the beliefs of another. This is because the views of those involved are at polar ends of the spectrum.

What is good to another man is evil to another, and vice versa.

People like to refer to this as moral relativism, the idea that we will never know what is truly good or evil, that everyone has their own point of view and in the absence of concrete laws, everyone’s view is equally valid and true. The GLBT community believes that they have the right to full and equal treatment under the law. The Religious community believes that they have the right to have their beliefs treated with the same respect as everyone else.

To dictate that the rights of one group supersede the rights of another group is to legislate that one group is superior to another group.

By stating that the GLBT community deserves the services of whomever they please, regardless of how that person feels, states that a person of the GLBT community has more rights and privileges because what they want legally overrides the wishes and beliefs of others who disagree with them. The action of making someone perform work against their will is tantamount to slavery. As well as another point I’ll bring up in a second.

By stating that a business owner has the right to deny service to someone because they find that person’s lifestyle to be sinful or in violation of their beliefs, places the business owner’s rights above that of the person they are denying service too. However, there is a difference here, and an important one.

By law, a man cannot be force to sell something he owns to another person. A person has the right to sell his property as he pleases, to whom he pleases. I cannot go up to a man who owns a home and insist that man give me his home. Nor can I go up to him and insist he sell it to me, even if the house is for sale. I must negotiate with the seller, and then if the negotiation pleases both, then I may pay him my money and purchase his property and make it my own.

“But Lucius, that’s a private individual, not a business. Businesses aren’t people.” One might say.

This is true, businesses aren’t people. But businesses are owned by people. Those businesses are the property of individual peoples (or groups of people, but its the same principle). The business is the private property of the individual, and that individual or individuals has the right to dispose as their property as it pleases them.

We consider the forcible sale of property to be theft. To coerce someone into selling something against their will, can be nothing but theft, regardless of what reward they receive. There has been much discussion over the concept of Eminent Domain, where the government can coerce the sale of land to the state because the State says they need it, and even though the state might pay the full value of the land (which is rare) they have still made someone accept the deal because the alternative is that the State takes that land without compensation. Most people consider the use of Eminent Domain to be highly unethical and argue it should be illegal.

At this point, forcing a religious business owner to sell a product to someone they do not wish to is analogous to the use of eminent domain. With the denial of this law, religious shop owners could face the choice of sell their services/items to people to not just serve them but to support them in a life style that religious person finds morally objectionable, or they face the fact that the state could take away everything they have built and sacrificed to create. A Christian or Muslim wedding planner would have to chose between upholding the religious tenants of their belief, something that failure to do so can lead not only to terrible consequences in the afterlife, but in their socio-economic present life.

Let’s take the example of the Muslim wedding planner. He or She could be placed in the position where they have to plan and pull of the wedding of a gay couple. This Muslim is of moderate faith, finding the idea of homosexuality distasteful and doesn’t want to do it, but because they could lose their business goes ahead with it. This is discovered by members of the Muslim community who are more religious who start a campaign against the wedding planner for going against the will of Allah. Suddenly the wedding planner finds themselves being picketed, boycotted, slandered, and possibly even being assaulted and killed depending on the strength and violent will of those in their community.

As a Heathen, I face as much discrimination from Christians, Muslim, and Jewish store owners who are religious as GLBT people do. If you think that a Christian wedding planner would want nothing to do with a gay wedding, imagine how they would feel being asked to coordinate a Heathen wedding. Instead of being asked to aid something that breaks the laws of their God, they would be asked to help in a ceremony which would be blasphemy and insult their God. At the same time though, I wouldn’t want to own a store and be expected to aid in actions I considered dishonorable against my will, like if I owned a store that rented out spaces, and a Christian wanted to rent space to teach against the evils of Paganism and the Occult.

Because that’s what this protection law does. It would allow a Pagan store owner the right to deny services to Christians who would try to hunt down, harass, and convert Pagans, without the fear that those Christians could turn around and shut down their business for denying them service! Or a Muslim from going to a Gay business owner or a print shop and making them print fliers and pamphlets about the evils of homosexuality!

We all have the right to our beliefs, our sexualities, etc. WE have the right to live our lives as we chose. WE do not have the right to force others to live by our ways, just as others do not have the right to force their ways on us.

There is not a single service out there that if one person denies you cannot find another willing to provide, or find a way to provide for yourself and your community. Yes, it would suck to be denied service, but it would suck even more to betray everything you believe in just to keep that which you have made in your life. I ask everyone to consider my words before they try to shut such bills down. Though I know my words will reach few and likely influence fewer…I hope that they do some good.

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