When Is Discrimination Not Discrimination? When North Carolina Calls It ‘Religious Freedom’


After North Carolina’s governor Pat McCrory vetoed a so-called “religious protection” bill that would allow magistrates to refuse to marry same-sex couples (or even interracial couples), the state legislature overrode the veto and put the bill into law. North Carolina’s lieutenant governor said that this measure was not discriminatory at all, and, in fact, it was an anti-discrimination law.

How is a law that allows people to use their religion to discriminate an anti-discrimination law? Well, according to Right Wing Watch, Dan Forest, the lieutenant governor, says that this law does the opposite of discrimination by protecting the magistrates’ religious freedom. Which means…he supports discrimination so long as it’s done for religious reasons.

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Magistrates are government officials, which makes it very difficult to justify allowing them to discriminate on the basis of their religions. It’s even harder to justify there than it is to justify in the case of businesses with a for-profit, secular mission, because the government isn’t supposed to endorse religion at all. At least a for-profit business is a private venture.

What’s worse is that Lt. Governor Forest whines that the left is all about tolerance, but refuses to tolerate the fact that Christians have beliefs. What the left actually believes is that Christians can have their beliefs, but those beliefs have a time and a place, and at work, in a government office, is not one of them.

Forest pulled out the old trope that the religious right says about allowing businesses to discriminate, which boils down to, “Go somewhere else.” Here’s the problem with that: Aside from the possibility that this would affect people who can’t just go somewhere else, the idea that they can is not, and should not be used as, justification for legalized discrimination. That’s a cop-out and nothing more.

It’s high time that these people understand that simply disagreeing with something, and actively working to suppress equality because of your disagreement, are two very different things. The former is merely an opinion. The latter is oppression. Will a day ever come when the religious right stops calling this “religious freedom,” and starts calling it what it is? If so, it’s not coming anytime soon. The more backlash they experience, the more they dig their heels in.

Featured image male and female symbols by Kurious. Licensed under Public Domain via Pixabay. Images merged by Rika Christensen/Liberalistics

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