Sexual Identity and Religion

Arizona was good enough to not sign into law the option to refuse service based on sexual orientation. It seems there are no states that have laws protecting people based on sexual orientation and only 21 that have ordinances about it. Wow. I had kind of always assumed that sexual orientation was protected like race, religion, and sex. It’s really not.

Speaking of religion . . . Part of one’s sexual identity is the ability to own it. Whether that’s being able to rent a hotel room for the night with your same-sex partner or being able to avoid unwanted pregnancy while still expressing yourself sexually, if you are unable to express it, then you are unable to own it. Religion- generally the Abrahamic ones- is often cited for reasons that one cannot or should not have access to safe birth control or be publicly homosexual. What that does is shut down much of the sexual identity of a large percentage of the population.

I am all for religious freedom. I grew up in Pennsylvania, a state created for religious freedom. (For those who don’t know, the Puritans were not about religious freedom, they were about the freedom to be the religious oppressors, so places like Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were started as havens for religious deviants. Like the Quakers that founded both.) However, I also grew up in a very, very Christian area so I recognize that if it is unchecked, religion can cause a lot of problems, too. There is a reason that our forefathers separated the churches from the state. When you mix politics and religion, the result is very, very messy.

What that brings me to is Hobby Lobby. I’ve been reluctant to shop there almost since I found them. It started with the sign on the door proclaiming that they’re closed on Sunday to allow for religious observation or some such. If you’re closed on Sunday, it’s not a stretch to guess it’s for religion- Christian religion- so it’s not really necessary to rub our noses in it. Then I found out that they don’t carry Hanukkah items because it goes against their religious values. (It seems they’re trying to take that one back.)

The thing that takes the cake, though, is that they believe that providing birth control to their female employees goes against the religious convictions of the company. That’s right. Their company’s got religion.

Here’s the thing. Obviously, they pride themselves on their Christian values and adherence to them. On an individual level, fine. But a company is not a person. (I’m ignoring the fact that, legally, they are. It’s absurd.) Also, this company is not setting itself up as a Christian company. The Family Christian Stores in town? I would walk into them expecting, well, lots of Christianity. I would not walk into a hobby store expecting it. I would expect them to be secular. Do you want to beat the drum of your religion? Then do it. But do it all the way. Or, just be a hobby store that’s closed on Sundays.

To contrast, there’s a small craft store I do frequent that is owned by someone for whom I think religion is very important. Church and other religious activities have been referenced in conversation, as has the owner’s faith. But it doesn’t rub me the wrong way. Why? Because it is the owner’s faith, not the store’s. It’s closed on Sunday, but the sign just says “closed.” Gatherings there tend to have a Christian tone if religion is brought up at all, but it’s not in any way expressed as “you’re one of us or you can’t be here.”

I suppose this is a long-winded way to say that we need to put our foot down when it comes to the Religious Right trying to base laws on their religion. If the law is that everyone has access to the same healthcare, then they all get it. Including access to safe contraception. If the law is that you serve whoever walks in your shop, then you serve them. If you don’t like it, then bitch about it at church on Sunday- but while they’re in your shop, you serve them. As humans, they deserve that much respect.

I’m still trying to figure out how one might be sure not to serve an undesirable.

“I would like to purchase a box of donuts.”

“That depends- are you a gay?”