Letter: No freedom to discriminate

People like Chris Surprenant forget the history of our country and the types of discrimination that have been pressed under the guise of “religious freedom.” Apparently he is ignorant of the fact that segregation based on race was once justified by saying God had created different races with different positions in life, therefore separate water fountains, train cars and restaurants were acceptable. Apparently, people like Surprenant want to gloss over this in the debate involving bills such as the one in Arizona based on this type of thinking, and expand the right to discrimination against people based on “religious beliefs.”

Surprenant claims this has nothing to do with targeting gay people. However, proponents of this bill have clearly stated that is the intent. Such gross disingenuousness should not go unchallenged. Now, I could ask, where in the Bible does it say “Thou shall not bake a cake for a gay wedding,” but anyone who’s read the Bible is fully aware that there is no such edict within the text. The idea of a gay identity wasn’t present in the society that wrote the Bible, as it is today.

Furthermore, what Suprenant ignores in his zeal to defend “religious freedom” of one group is he is trampling over the freedoms of others. Bills like the one he is defending also would allow businesses to discriminate against people based on other religious beliefs. This would allow a baker to refuse to make a cake for an interfaith couple, a couple with a previously divorced person or, quite frankly, an interracial couple if someone were to argue this was against their strongly held beliefs.

Suprenant claims there will be only a few instances where businesses will turn away gay people from their businesses. I would disagree, but regardless, I would argue if there was only one baker legally allowed to turn away an interfaith couple, that would be too many. If there was only one baker legally allowed to turn away a divorcée, that would be too many. And if there was only one baker legally allowed to turn away a gay person, that would be too many.

Baking a cake is not “participating” in gay marriage. Changing the oil in a divorced man’s car is not forcing a mechanic to “participate” in divorce. Taking a picture of a Jewish man marrying a Christian woman is not making a photographer “participate” in an interfaith marriage. Too often people like Surprenant confuse their tunnel vision for perspicacity and do not understand the ultimate ramifications of what they support. State-sanctioned discrimination is contrary to the principles of our republic and should not be tolerated in a free society.

James Norris

LSU student

Baton Rouge