And you thought refusal of service ended in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act…
By Cathy Kristofferson, April 23, 2013
In Massachusetts one of the legislative campaigns we are working on is the Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public.
The bill will give the trans community the public accommodations rights they were cheated out of in last year’s Trans Civil Rights bill negotiations. Cheated, of course, by the hate machine that propels the ‘Bathroom Bill‘ wherever gender identity and/or gender expression legislation is brought forward. Cheating many States’ residents their equal access to all public places, because a few can’t get past their own bigotry towards one component of these bills, bathroom and locker room access.
Last month at a City Council meeting about the MA Dept. of Education’s new Gender Identity guidelines, we were all reminded that every single one of the trans community members who had come to share testimony could be asked to leave and they would have no recourse. The proponents of the ‘Bathroom Bill‘ in that room, were there resisting the school department’s adoption of the guidelines, and were the ones we could thank for that potential “refusal of service” for the trans folks, which could occur at any moment, for absolutely no given reason.
A “public accommodation” is any establishment, public or private, that is open to the general public and that provides, or endeavors to provide, some type of goods and/or services to the general public.
And now in a week where Uruguay, New Zealand and France have legalized marriage equality, and Rhode Island, Delaware and Nevada have moved marriage bills forward, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) appears poised to do more harm in the LGBT equality sphere, launching a new campaign to move existing public accommodation protections backwards! They are holding tight to their First Amendment right to be bigots hoping to use their religious freedom to deny those they don’t like serving, while violating nondiscrimination protections already in place. Service, as is food in a restaurant, flowers at a florist, a room in a hotel, a book in a library, etc.
It reminds me of that recent case where a florist for years had been happy to take money for flowers from two men who she knew were gay right up until they asked her to do their wedding. Then suddenly she had a religious problem with them. How hypocritical! Actually NOM’s campaign reminds me of ‘Whites Only’ water fountains and some folks sitting in the back of the bus…
Actually it’s hard to tell from NOM’s two campaign posters if they are in fact only targeting sexual orientation, since they say ANYBODY and This Includes YOU, or if they are seeking to reverse other decades old existing protected class non-discrimination laws, even federal ones, since we all know that it was their Bible that was used to justify the racism behind interracial marriage bans and slavery.
And don’t believe their claim that the culprit in all this is mere marriage equality. NOM’s suggested ‘refusal of service rights’ are violations of nondiscrimination protections and not some requirement to accept something you claim your religion gives you license to reject. One wonders how far they will take this…
Editor’s Note: Thank you Cathy for this critical piece – having lived through Apartheid in South Africa, these signs by NOM are terrifying in their suggestion. They smack of the old Apartheid regime, which for decades sought to justify their bigotry on religion; and while this seems to me to be a desperate ploy by NOM, as they lose the battle against equality, they embrace the disgusting larger point, of across the board apartheid.