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AR bill allowing LGBT discrimination

The hatred boiling up inside of me is keeping me from my work. Apologies to any coworkers reading this who need me to get back to the crime beat, but I have to get the words out.

At 11:50 a.m. today, Buzzfeed reported that the Arkansas legislature had passed a bill allowing for LGBT discrimination in businesses. According to the article, the sponsor of the bill, Republican Sen. Bart Hester, said he was infuriated that cities were trying to expand civil rights laws to LGBT people. Even worse, Gov. Asa Hutchinson is not expected to veto the bill.

Yesterday Buzzfeed released an article on the impending bill and quoted Hester saying, “I am singled out as a politician. I am singled out because I am married to one woman.” He continued with, “I want everyone in the LGBT community to have the same rights I do. I do not want them to have special rights that I do not have.”

According to bill SB202, “a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state shall not adopt or enforce an ordinance, resolution, rule or policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.”

I’ve been hoping against hope I have sorely misunderstood what this bill is about, but my research so far has told me it is exactly what I fear. This will block cities from passing anti-discrimination laws protecting my LGBT friends.

There’s even another bill that will let businesses turn away customers, such as LGBT customers trying to buy flowers or cakes for same-sex weddings.

To Hester, I say this: how, as a white, married, straight man are you discriminated against? Since when have you been bullied, sneered at, turned away from establishments for loving a woman? How were those agonizing teenage years you spent hiding from your parents, afraid to tell them you, as a straight male, loved a woman?

You say you want those in the LGBT community to have the same rights as you. If that’s the case, they should be allowed to walk into any business and not be turned away for loving a person of the same gender. These people should be welcomed in churches, courtrooms, venues across the state to join as one and even adopt children who so desperately need a loving home.

Republicans are known for being “Bible-thumpers” and choosing to run the country based on religion. For several different reasons, I have stepped away from a religious lifestyle, something I don’t advertise because, oh look, I live in the South. But my years as a Christian taught me at least one thing: don’t judge others. Leave that to God. I may not have an exact verse but I’m pretty sure somewhere in that giant book it says something about loving others and letting God do all the judging, right?

There is a fire inside of me and I am disappointed in myself I never knew about these bills until this week. There is so much more work to do on getting all people — LGBT, women, blacks — the same rights that have been so graciously offered without second thought to these old, white men running our country. I am disgusted by this state, the people running it, and those who can support such backward, archaic thinking.

It is part of my job as a journalist to look at things objectively but this is one issue I will remain fired up about. I can guarantee that if, as a business owner, you would turn away my LGBT friends, you will most certainly see my ass turning around and walking out of your door.

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