In his April 12 letter, Guillermo Martinez dismisses Leonard Pitts Jr.’s criticism of the recently enacted Mississippi law authorizing discrimination against LBGT people as “liberal, secular, progressive hypocrisy.”
He suggests that the right of LBGT community members to receive services denies others the right to deny such service. This is true, but it is true of all laws. Any law protecting an individual’s rights curtails the ability of others to impinge on those rights.
Martinez notes that a gay man can refuse to patronize a business that denies him service. Of course, this presumes that establishments exist that will serve him. I would point out that the same argument could have been made to support racial discrimination in the 1960s.
I urge Martinez to take the time to actually read the bill that the governor of Mississippi signed. That law isn’t limited to private businesses and protects the “right” of government officials such as clerks and judges to refuse to issue marriage licenses, solemnize marriages in their official government capacities, place children in foster homes (based upon the sexual orientation of the foster parents) or formalize adoptions.
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People are entitled to hold whatever prejudices they wish, and the right of religious institutions to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for LBGT couples is protected by the First Amendment. What people should not be entitled to do is to refuse, under color of law, to provide either governmental services or public services to any individual based upon those prejudices.
David A. Silk, Boca Raton