Coming up through the Milwaukee Braves minor league system, Aaron was one of three minority players on a team based in Jacksonville, FL and traveling to games throughout the southeastern United States. Although the team was integrated, Aaron and fellow farmhands Felix Mantilla and Horace Garner knew that most restaurants were not. Time and again, they would not be served when the team showed up for a meal on the road. A few of their teammates stood up to make sure they ate. Many did not. Nor did others, including league officials.
Could [Michael] Sam, the University of Missouri All-American football player and top draft prospect who is likely to be the first openly gay player in the NFL, come up on a similar road as Aaron did? He might, if a bill now making its way from the Arizona legislature to the governor’s desk is signed into law.
That bill, which legislators gave final approval on this past Thursday, provides changes to existing state laws having to do with religious freedom, including an expansion of who is protected under those laws. It would effectively allow a business owner to deny service to customers when such work violates their religious beliefs. And if a discrimination lawsuit were to emerge as a result, the business owner would have a defense by providing that the decision was motivated by “sincerely held” religious beliefs and that giving such service would have substantially burdened the exercise of those beliefs.
Critics of the bill see it as a license to discriminate against certain people, particularly those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. They are right. This is simply revisiting the Jim Crow South in a different guise—skin color is now sexual preference. 1
- First Kansas, now Arizona; the South attempts to rise again in the oddest places. The original Jim Crow laws “worked” because of an unspoken assumption that was silently enforced by America’s first ‘moral majority.’ Fear mongers in Kansas and Arizona would see those days return, though their laws are sure to fail. And even were the laws to stand the test of SCOTUS, who, for example, would patronize their businesses such they would remain viable? Other bigots? There’s not enough of those, even in Kansas and Arizona, to sustain anything but a greasy food truck. Oh, and while we’re here? Fuck a bunch of ‘religious beliefs’, you fucking subliterates. ↩