America, where constitutional rights mean nothing

As published in the Southern Accent

In the last few weeks, the proposals and passing of anti-LGBT+ legislation in states like North Carolina and Mississippi have stirred the social waters and Americans are outraged.

North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (HB2) is the first in our country to regulate transgender people’s use of public bathrooms based on the gender listed on their birth certificate.

Mississippi passed House Bill 1523 around the same time. This bill allows businesses and religious organizations immunity from discrimination against LGBT+ people. The language of this bill does not explicitly regulate the use of bathrooms like that of HB2, but it does grant businesses and schools immunity if they choose to enforce these regulations.

As of this past Monday, anti-LGBT+ bills have been introduced in 28 states. This legislation is unconstitutional based on the Fourteenth Amendment and court precedents because they discriminate against a minority and on the basis of sex.

The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects all persons under the country’s jurisdiction from being denied equal protection of the law. These individuals are also protected from state laws that intend to strip them of their privileges and rights as United States citizens.

People fail to realize how direct the effects of these bills are on members of the LGBT+ community. These laws present opportunities for bigots to use religion as a tool for their discrimination against LGBT+ people and, potentially, other minority groups.

With the passing of these bills, organizations can turn away LGBT people, single mothers and unwed couples from their services based on religious convictions. Services like counseling, housing, social work, employment and medicine, should not be withheld simply because one does not agree with their lifestyle.

Last week, Tennessee passed House Bill 1840. The public is calling it “Hate Bill 1840”. This bill is headed to the governor’s desk and is meant to protect Christian counselors from having to counsel LGBT+ clients because their lifestyle countradicts that of Christian values and religious beliefs. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III warned that the state would lose federal funding over this discriminatory bill, as well as those targeting transgender students.

These social injustices are moving closer to home. Although it may seem like these bills are protecting our religious freedoms, I believe they will be the same bills that bite us in the last days. We fail to realize that declining these people constitutional rights will be what leads to our religious rights being taken away later on. This kind of legislation opens the door for discrimination on levels that we cannot even imagine, and I doubt we want to.

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