With justice and discrimination for all
by Alvin A. Temple
A VOTE THAT HAPPENED IN Louisiana on March 31 may seem slightly hard to believe in this day and age.
At a time when we elected a president who campaigned about mov- ing forward, our House of Commerce took a colos- sal step backwards as they voted 13-5 against a bill that would prevent hous- ing discrimination against citizens regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
I understand that everyone has different stances when it comes to marriage equality because of religious beliefs (and that still doesn’t make it right in a civil case), but this? This is about Civil Rights. This is about discrimination and the right one has to be protected from such. As a gay man, I wake up, go to work, vote and pay my taxes just like everyone else in this country.
So I truly believe I deserve the same rights as everyone else. I deserve the same protection as every free citizen in the state of Louisiana and in the United States of America.I am outraged that this bill was denied, and even more so that it was denied 13-5. Thirteen votes against it and only five votes for it seems utterly absurd to me. What’s next – separate drinking fountains; will we have to enter buildings from another door; will we have to sit on the back of the bus while all the heterosexuals sit up front? We’ve seen this political machine work in the past – it begins with something as minute as this and escalates into the state passing a law that states businesses have the right to refuse service to the LGBT community.
Oh, wait. That just happened in Mississippi on April 4. That’s right, the Friday of the very same week that Louisiana denied HB 804.
This is the slow deterioration of what so many people fought and even died for. This is where we start rolling back the clock and using religion as a tool to repress free citizens in our nation. It’s a slow poisoning that turns into a sickness and develops into a plague of hate wrapped up in a pretty package disguised as religious freedom. You may very well believe that it is religious freedom, but you should also understand that is a complete violation of civil freedom. Do we honor the legends of the fight for civil rights by allowing such political atrocities to go without standing up and making a powerful noise against it? There was a time when great advocacies of civil rights would have leapt up and cried in outrage, and made such a noise that the world as a whole would stand up and take notice then join the fight. Now, however, we just sit silently and say, “Well, what did you expect?”
I expect my rights to be protected by the governing body and elected officials of this state and country – THAT IS what I expect! That is what the citizens of this state and country deserve. This is what they are entitled to. We have
taken our advocacies of civil rights and made them feel embarrassed to stand up because if they do, if they dare open their mouths against these acts of hatred and discrimination, they are called out by church heads and officials for supporting a gay agenda.
A gay agenda? The only agenda I see our LGBT community fighting for is that of equality, a fight for the pursuit of happiness in a country that prides itself on its liberty and justice for all. Maybe you are familiar with such a movement.
Just know that as a gay man in the state of Louisiana, I too have the right to deny you this sale or rental. See, that’s the interesting part of this law, or as the case may be, the lack of this law. If there are no existing laws that protect a person from discrimination regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, then understand that this gives me and any other member and supporter of the LGBT community the right to deny housing to those who identify as heterosexual.
We could start our own gay community – and we’re good with catchy little phrases so maybe we’ll call it a Gaymunity! It would have the most fabulous houses, the finest lawns and would be the envy of all the strictly straight neighborhoods. You know what, maybe we should embrace this law because most of us know how it feels to be discriminated against, to have someone look at you in disgust and hate. To have churches say cruel and heartless things, to be made to feel unwelcomed in places that preach of love and healing and then to just watch our House of Commerce teach us the harsh reality of the hateful act of legal discrimination. Yes, we to know what discrimination feels like, and our House of Commerce just made it legal. So maybe, we should embrace this law and act accordingly.
But we won’t. I strongly encourage our community and supporters not to do this. When we win this fight, and we will win this fight, we will do it by becoming better than the injustice shown to us. We win with compassion.
Alvin A. Temple is native and proud resident of Baton Rouge. He is a wellness coach, owner and instructor of Pure Yoga, and an avid Egalitarian.