By Dani Naess Hellesund
The debate about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights has been widely featured in recent news. On Wednesday, Feb. 26, Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer, vetoed a proposed state law that would have given business owners the right to refuse service to anyone whose lifestyle conflicts with those who have sincere religious convictions. Was Governor Brewer’s decision the right one?
Every legitimate group of people has the right to special considerations in the makings of laws. In this case, that includes both religious groups and LGBTs. Laws are not just there to stop criminals. Laws are also needed to protect and conserve groups of people and minorities that haven’t enjoyed much freedom in the past.
People may argue that the law is in accordance with the United States Constitution when looking at the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Freedom of religion is a treasured and valued part of the supreme law, and it should be. However, using it as grounds for discrimination was not the intent of the founding fathers.
The problem with the Arizona bill was that one group suffers if the other group is allowed that freedom. That is not acceptable. In the making of laws, the laws shall be equal to all with no exceptions. If the law discriminates, the law is in conflict with an article in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United States adheres to, and has, since the declaration’s creation in 1948.
Article Seven of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”
The relevant part for this piece is, “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.” If the proposed Arizona law stated that an LGBT person could not get served at the local diner because the owner can refuse him or her service on the grounds of religious convictions sanctioned by law, then that is discrimination. That law would not equally protect everyone, which is a violation of article seven.
One of the most important things is to treat everyone equally under the law. That is why it was a good decision that Governor Brewer vetoed the bill.
People must be able to live their lives fully without having to face any discrimination. People must also be able to believe in what they want, and the law should protect them as well, but the law should not favor one group of people over the other.
It is strange (to say it politely) that we, as a society, still have problems accepting people for who they are. It should be a given at this point. People are worth just as much if they are religious or if they are part of the LGBT community, or if they are both or neither.
Equality, people, that’s the good stuff.