I don’t know about yours, but my Facebook news feed was abuzz with SB1062 (or, what has been dubbed Arizona’s legalized prejudice bill) news this week. Locals and out-of-state friends alike weighed in with opinions on the highly controversial bill, some with insightful commentary and others with unfounded rants either in favor or opposition of. The topic saturated news and social media channels on both a local and national level. Which is why I wasn’t the least bit surprised when two of my teenage daughters brought up the topic for conversation at home.
I have to preface by telling you that my daughters are completely void of discriminatory thoughts or views when it comes to race, religion, or sexual orientation—as they should be. It stands to reason, then, that my daughters would oppose any bill that would threaten the rights of any given group of people. And indeed, they did. Independently of one another, my daughters incredulously asked if I’d heard about the bill and when I confirmed that I had, they proceeded to passionately argue against “legalized prejudice”. I listened intently while they spoke, specifically hoping to hear proof that they’d actually researched the topic and formed an opinion, rather than simply regurgitate the rhetoric they’d read on Twitter. Sadly, that component seemed to be missing from each of their arguments, which, of course, prompted me to pose a scenario that I knew would give them pause.
“Let’s say you’re a photographer,” I began, “and one day you get a call from the editor of a magazine affiliated with The Church of Satan. They want to hire you to do a photo shoot depicting church members, oh I dunno, setting fire to the cross or whatever it is they do. And then they want to publish these photos with a caption that attributes the photos to you. By name. Meaning that for the rest of eternity your name will be associated with something that—in your heart of hearts—you believe to be wrong. When they call to hire you, would you say yes?”
Both of my daughters answered with a resounding ‘no’.
“Tell me, then,” I continued, “do you think that the editor of that magazine should be able to sue you for standing up for what you believe?”
Again they answered with a ‘no’.
“So maybe that bill isn’t altogether evil after all, huh?”
“Maybe not,” they conceded.
Here’s the thing: I want for my children to continue to believe—to know--that all people are created equal, regardless of the color of their skin or the gender of the person they are attracted to. But—and this is a big but—I also want them to understand that you cannot legislate a person’s thoughts. By standing in firm opposition of a bill that would permit small business owners to refuse service to gay or lesbian consumers, my daughters believed they were standing in support of equality for all. And I would be the first to applaud them for that. But given that they are the next generation of voters, I think it is imperative that they also understand the importance of knowing the facts—all of them--and considering the flip side to every political stance they formulate.
Anything short of that puts the freedom of us all—straight, gay or otherwise—on the line.