By David Harris
Recently, there have been several anti-gay legislations and court rulings on same-sex marriage in the U.S.
On Tuesday, Feb. 11, the Kansas House of Representatives passed Bill 2453. The bill would have given anyone the right to refuse service to “any domestic partnership or marriage not recognized by the State” if it would violate their religious beliefs.
It also would have allowed employers to fire employees and stores to deny selling goods to people based on their sexual orientation.
Hotels could throw out or deny the entry of same-sex couples under order of the bill. Businesses such as theatres and restuarants could turn away same-sex couples at the door.
Additionally, any same-sex couple who sued could have not only lost, but been forced to pay the fee of their opponent’s attorney.
On Tuesday, Feb. 18, Senate Vice President Jeff King (R) put a stop to the bill indefinitely.
The same day, a similar enactment, Senate Bill 2566, was withdrawn from the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee.
The bill would have permitted businesses in Tennessee to deny service to same-sex couples. Tennessee is still one of several states that does not recognize same-sex marriage.
Jess Brundige, public relations officer of the Gay Straight Alliance at APSU, criticized the anti-gay bills.
“Some critics say this is an issue that should be put on ballots instead of decided in the courts, but I think the rights of the minority should not be left to the whims of the majority,” Brundige said.
While Tennessee and Kansas are now cleared of pending anti-gay legislation, the Arizona Legislature passed a bill on Thursday, Feb. 20, that gives business owners the right to assert their religious beliefs by not serving homosexuals.
Other states facing anti-gay legislation proposals are South Dakota, Idaho, Ohio, Oklahoma and Mississippi.
Last June, the Supreme Court ruled they could not refuse to recognize same-sex marriages in states where it is legal. Since then, 17 states in the U.S. have permitted same-sex marriages, while 33 states refuse it.
Brundige said the results for gay marriage are promising.
“If you’d asked me a year ago whether Tennessee would get marriage equality within five years, I would have laughed,” Brundige said. “Now, however, it seems inevitable that our state will eventually be part of the recent cascade of court rulings.”
Brundige said she is excited about marriage equality, but fears people will stop fighting for equality in other areas.
“I know that people will see nationwide marriage equality and think that the battle for LGBTQ rights is won, but this ignores many more serious issues,” Brundige said. “We shouldn’t stop fighting for the thousands of transgender people who have been murdered in hate crimes or the estimated 41 percent of transgender people who attempt suicide compared to 1.6 percent of the general population.”
Brundige said that despite gains for equality in marriage, it “doesn’t do much” for many LGBTQ community members “who are homeless and in extreme poverty.”
“We need to remember that marriage equality is just a small step toward equality for the LGBTQ community,” Brundige said.
Junior English major Nathan Baker said the strides in marriage equality and equal treatment are positive moves for the U.S.
“Frankly, I don’t know why it’s taken this long,” Baker said. “It seems a bit ridiculous. I have no problems with gay marriage at all, and it seems like a good thing that it’s finally getting started.” TAS