Whether born and raised in a state that
still proudly waves confederate flags or one that wields rainbows, we
Americans pride ourselves on our belief systems. Throughout our short
history, those waging battle for their beliefs have stood strong in
the face of their opponents, and no war of words is without
manipulation of thought.
Last week, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer
vetoed SB 1062 which would have allowed businesses to deny service to
patrons based on the business owners’ religious beliefs. In an
interview with Senator Al Melvin, a proponent of the bill, Anderson
Cooper pointed out that it is already legal to discriminate in
Arizona as there is no federal or state law listing sexual
orientation under things you can’t discriminate against. When asked
to site an example in which a person’s religious freedoms have been
compromised in Arizona, Melvin said that the pillars of society are
under attack across the United States. He named some of these pillars
as traditional family, traditional marriage, mainstream church, and
boy scouts. During the course of the interview, Melvin, who is also
running for Arizona governor, could not site one example of
infringement of religious freedoms in Arizona and told Cooper he
would get back to him tomorrow.
Senator Melvin’s argument for the
pillars of society can be examined within the “pillars of
morality”, a scientific theory originated by University of Virginia
psychology professor Jonathan Haidt. The theory states that five
innate psychological systems form the foundation of intuitive ethics
across all cultures, and that one's political affiliation is largely
determined by an individual's ranking of the relative importance of
each of those systems (www.moralfoundations.org).
According to Haidt’s observations,
liberal proponents of LGBT equality place more value on the systems
of Fairness and Respect, whereas the religious right places a higher
value on the systems of Purity and Sanctity.
This is where the manipulation lies-
believing that any pillar of morality is better than the other, when
in fact, as pillars, they all hold equal importance in the
maintenance of morality. Consequently, when we give more weight to
any one pillar over the others, the house of morality falls.
Within these systems, a person is
morally obligated to provide respect and fairness to everyone. Every
person also has the right to practice purity and sanctity. Morally,
however, no one has the right to force purity and sanctity upon
others. If you believe yourself to be moral, you must treat others
with respect and fairness and do no harm. When you deny someone the
right to equality by imposing your beliefs upon them, you destroy
your own morality.
A question one might pose to an
opponent of equal rights for the LBGT community is what right do you
have to encroach upon someone else’s right to fairness and respect?
Following the pillars of morality theory, the answer is you have no
The religious right states that
homosexuality is a choice. They also value free will and the
propriety to choose their own destiny. They say they value free
speech, even if said speech does not agree with their own. They
believe in less government, yet they insist that this same government
enforce their beliefs upon others who do no harm to them. For
example, Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s anti-gay marriage bill is on the
table to defend states' rights to regulate marriage, which is
contradictory to these beliefs they claim to value.
Ultimately, Governor Brewer veto SB
1062 either to defend basic civil rights, or to defend against the
potential economic loss of 500 million dollars from the LGBT
community and their supporters who vowed to stop spending money in
Civil rights or simple economics?
Some people I know agree with the
religious right view that LBGT equality is wrong and an affront to
God. As they speak on their perspectives, I can see that they are
being manipulated by their own emotions. Logically, they agree that
basic human rights are available to everyone. Emotionally, their
feelings on purity and sanctity override their propensity to treat
people fairly and respectfully.
In the interview with Senator Melvin,
Cooper asked repeatedly, “If someone is fired because they are gay
or lesbian, is that discrimination?” Clearly flustered, Melvin
evaded the questions and ended the interview by saying he was being
Melvin’s emotions undoubtedly vetoed
his morality for fairness and respect.
Whenever we treat people fairly and
allow them equal freedoms that we enjoy, we are helping the world
become a better place. The same people that have fought so hard for
their rights may then be inspired to fight for others. They will
fight for the right to fresh water, food and shelter in the
developing world. They will fight for social justice.
Whether sexual orientation is based on
choice, genetics, environmental influences or some combination
therein, we don’t have conclusive evidence one way or the other.
All we know for sure, and the only
thing that matters, is that we're created as human beings and we all
deserve the right to be treated fairly.
Presently, there are 13 states which
have introduced “religious freedom” bills. Since the veto of
Arizona’s SB 1062, these bills have either been killed,
indefinitely tabled, or are now being reworded to be reintroduced as
bills, according to the Huffington Post.
In addition to D.C., 17 states now
employ marriage equality laws.
Colin Christopher is a clinical
hypnotherapist and author of Success
Through Manipulation: Subconscious Reactions That Will Make or Break
You, and an active supporter for equality.