The governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, vetoed State Bill 1062. Bill 1062 was called a “religious freedom” bill that would allow business owners in Arizona to refuse service or business to any person who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender based on their religious beliefs. Shortly after the governor of Arizona did this the state legislature in Ohio removed their version of the same bill from consideration. Though I was not surprised by the governor’s veto, I was surprised that it had even gotten to the governor’s desk in the first place. It was stupid.
It just did not make much sense to me. How were they going to determine the gender of someone who walks into their business or restaurant? Were they going to have people fill out forms before seating them or doing actual business? Were they going to use stereotypical profiles of the various genders to determine whether or not someone should be allowed in for service? Or were they going to ask for a credit card, hold it up to their foreheads, and declare the individual acceptable like Carnac the Magnificent? How exactly were these businesses and restaurant owners going to determine the gender of the people using their businesses? Was Arizona going to start requiring people to wear badges declaring their gender? I understand money is what makes the business revolve . . . and, money does not care what gender the spender is. It all spends the same way. So, what does gender have to do with doing business or eating in a restaurant? Doesn’t this go against the real religion that governs our lives and the world around us—economics?
Besides, this sure did not sound much like the United States of America. Using one liberty to take the liberties of others away. Nor does this idea of religious freedom sound much like the teachings or ways of Jesus . . . I don’t remember him excluding anyone from his presence if they were not of the same faith persuasion as he was. Nope, he welcomed everyone to take a seat at the table. So, as I stated above, I was pretty amazed that SB 1062 even made it to the governor’s desk.
I also did not understand all of the ruckus surrounding two athletes—Michael Sam and Jason Collins, who happen to be gay. Michael Sam is the first highly rated college football player to come out as openly gay before the National Football League draft. Jason Collins is the National Basketball Association player who came out as being gay at the end of last season, and had been sitting out much of this season until he received a ten-day contract from the Brooklyn Nets. Since when does one’s gender determine whether or not he or she is a good athlete? Prior to their announcements about their gender no one seemed to have any problems with them as athletes . . . they had both proven themselves as exceptional on the playing field and court. It is pretty ridiculous that gender enters into the picture in the first place . . . they are playing a sport. Making tackles. Setting picks. Scoring points. What does gender have to do with that? Not much . . . but you would think with the media attention these pronouncements have generating that it was a big deal. A gay football player? A gay basketball player? Who cares as long as they can play the game.
Since when did the Declaration of Independence, our nation’s founding document, have hidden agendas to keep others out? Did it not say, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Since when did the Constitution and Bill of Rights have little exclusion clauses when it came to “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” It seems that we as a nation have had a real difficult time living up to our ideals as presented in the Constitution and Bill of Right. Our own history plays against us in that arena.
We live in an age of “isms” . . . racism . . . ageism . . . sexism . . . gender bias . . . ability/disability . . . poor/rich . . . religious preferences or no preferences . . . politics . . . and, on and on the list goes. We have all encountered bias and prejudice in our own lives, even if it has been as simple as being a Bobcat fan in Grizzly Country. It is never fun to be judged by these so-called “isms”. But, the sad thing is that we all have our own biases and prejudices even when we think that we do not. We still have a long way to go as demonstrated by a state trying to pass a prejudicial bill or professional sports having to explain why a person’s gender makes an individual worthy of playing a sport.
If a person can do the job . . . who cares whether or not the person is straight or gay? Young or old? Rich or poor? Black, white, or Indian? Able-bodied or has a disability? Male or female? Presbyterian or Jewish? What does any of that have to do with sitting down in a restaurant to eat a meal or being able to make a tackle on a football field? And, for that matter, what does any of that have to do with whether or not those people have a place at God’s table?
I know that there are lots of arguments against what I am saying, but I can handle that . . . after all, we all have our opinions. Yet, my understanding is that the Bible tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Nowhere in that statement or following do I find a list of exclusions that exempt anyone . . . God loves the whole world . . . God loves the diversity . . . and, God desires to be in a relationship with all of it. Because of that there is one simple question: Who are we to deny anyone a place at God’s table?
God has room for everyone . . . men, women, pirates, acrobats, giants, androids, aliens, ninjas, gamers, gangstas, invisible men, zombies . . . blacks, whites, Hispanics, Indians, and any other race . . . Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, Muslims, and any other religion . . . old people, young people . . . rich, poor . . . abled and disabled . . . smart and dumb . . . Republicans and Democrats . . . everyone. Everyone is welcomed to the table . . . God always has room.
Since when do we allow our biases and prejudices . . . our ignorance . . . to determine God’s will? Shouldn’t we at least give God’s way a try before we condemn the rest of the world . . . after all, we were all created in the image of God. That should be reason enough for all of us to love one another.