Since November of 2012, 10 new states have legalized same-sex marriage by court decision, legislation or popular referendum. Pending appeal, Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia are poised to j oin them in the next couple of years. In reaction to this tremendous push forward, several state legislatures are trying to pull us back to the 1960s.
Idaho, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Arizona have all put forward similar legislation that seeks to promote “religious freedom” by allowing anyone from small business owners to emergency responders to deny service based on their sincerely held religious beliefs. So far, Arizona’s is the only one to have passed a state congress.
While these laws have grabbed national headlines, they are just the most outrageous examples of a nationwide response to the changing social attitude towards marriage equality. Last year, in my home state of Minnesota, the Minnesota Family Council successfully lobbied against an anti-bullying law on the grounds that it would be a “gross intrusion on parental autonomy and religious freedom.”
At the core of all these fights is a very specific claim: By making laws against anti-gay bullying or discrimination, we are violating the “religious freedom”of people who want to bully and discriminate.
Religious freedom means you get to believe whatever you want. Religious freedom means you are free to practice your religion to the extent that it does not harm others.
Read the rest here. My next column is also submitted and will be a followup discussion to this week's.