Over the last ten years, queer people in the United States have made significant political and legal progress such as the liberty to get married to the parties of their liking. Queer people in this case represent minor interest groups such as the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) people in the United States. However, every aspect of this progress is not covered or protected by federal laws. One such aspect is the prohibition of discrimination directed to queer people in relation to their gender identity and sexual orientation in sectors such as housing, employment and access to needed services. Without protection from discrimination, these people are evidently in lack of a legal recourse to sue for damages in the cases where they are evicted, fired and refused service due to either their gender identity or sexual orientation. One sensitive area of discussion is the recent emergence of service refusal by businesses due to what is perceived as the owners’ religious beliefs. The question whether service refusal on religious grounds is right or wrong has been posed on several official and unofficial platforms across the country.
The proponents of this service refusal definitely deem the act right in its entirety. It is argued that the federal laws are structured in such a way as to create a balance between the rights of these queer groups of people and religious freedom. Therefore, business owners are within their own rights as religious believers to discriminate these people with little to no consideration since the law creates a blanket of exceptions on this regard. In this case, service refusal is deemed inconsequential since queer people could easily invest time and money to get these services in places that are considerate to their plight. As much as there are business owners who feel uncomfortable serving these people, there also exist other businesses that are accommodative. Therefore, it stands to reason that these people should simply take their business elsewhere.
However, these arguments fail on a couple of fronts. They fail to completely convince that the action taken by these business owners is right. First and foremost, these arguments trivializes the discrimination being perpetrated on these people. Any type of discrimination is wrong since it hold far reaching impacts. In this case, service denial stands to impact on these individuals and their families negatively. Secondly, these arguments make an outrageous implication that once denied service these people could still simply locate alternative accommodative services nearby. One such notable case of service denial was in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Proponents of service denial have continued to make use of the argument that service are easy to come by in numerous amicus briefs in support of the business owners in this case. These briefs hold anti-queer views that are highly extreme in nature.
However, these views act like a one-two punch in the face of queer people in reality. Service denial is a form of discrimination that results to a sought of harm that negatively impacts the people’s physical and psychological health together with their wellbeing. Compounding these effects, experience has shown that on many instances once denied services these people ended up missing these services in alternative places. This implies that denying these people services makes it difficult or rather impossible for them to secure services at all. As a result, the act denies them full participation in the public square. With all these arguments, denying services to queer people on religious grounds is not only right but also inhumane from all possible perspectives and no amount of justification can change that.
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