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The following article was posted on February 26th, 2014, in the New Times - Volume 28, Issue 31 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 28, Issue 31

Arizona's anti-gay law is cloaked in religiosity

Why care about who loves whom"especially if you're a business?

BY CHARMAINE COIMBRA

Billy—a smart and handsome 30-something young man—and I cozied up over a delightful glass of a California red blend wine in a noisy, hip, artisan Sonoma restaurant on a recent Friday night. We wanted to get to know each other better. His wit is as sharp as his beautiful eyes. Well, I’ve always been a sucker for a good-looking man with gorgeous eyes, and we were the perfect pair.

Worry not. This is not a tale of how an aging 60-something grandmother seduced a younger man. It’s a tale of contrasts and dismay.

Our waitperson poured another bit of wine into our glasses. Billy put his arm around me and asked, “Did you always know that John was gay?” His question was a bit off-putting in that John and Billy are betrothed, with a gala wedding planned this year. I’ve known John since his high school graduation, and this particular occasion celebrated his 40th birthday.

I collected my thoughts and words while I grasped the long glass stem of my wine-filled goblet and spun it about to inject some air and rouse the wine’s fragrance.

“You know, I never thought of John as gay or not gay,” I said. “It never mattered then, and it surely doesn’t matter now.”

“Really?” Billy replied.

“Really,” I returned, and then brought the wine to my lips and enjoyed the art of a fine red blend.

Concurrent to gathering my thoughts on this matter, red-hot exchanges charged the Internet about Arizona’s Legislature that passed a bill “that would allow business owners, as long as they assert their religious beliefs, to deny service to gay and lesbian customers,” according to a CNN report. Arizona’s law trails the failed Kansas anti-gay law HB 2453—again, allowing those with religious beliefs to refuse service to same-sex couples—all based on religious freedom.

“Somehow, Billy, I missed the anti-gay calling. I worry if you are a good human. Do you love and treat our planet like you would your child? Do you treat other humans with compassion and respect? Are you kind? Do you give back? These are the issues I find important as opposed to one’s attraction to their same sex.”

The boisterous restaurant cut short my preach about this current wave of “my righteousness trumps your heart and soul’s purpose.” But I wanted to add that I find it rather silly that this gay-hate business is cloaked in religiosity at the exact same time that other religious leaders welcome all loving couples to their places of worship.

There are bigger issues on the world table right now. To question or worry about another’s loving attraction to another consenting adult is laughable in the face of the assault and rape of women across most nations, the starvation of children from warring clans and greedy national leaders, extreme poverty with no way out, blatant human rights abuses, and a degrading environment.

With this feverish far-right movement of denial of just about anything that is real, will history get another rewrite when the gay-hate folks discover that Alexander the Great, Socrates, Pope Julius III, Richard the Lionheart, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Francis Bacon, and J. Edgar Hoover took on male lovers? Will works by respected poets, musicians, writers, and actors who were LGBT—like Walt Whitman, Leonard Bernstein, Tchaikovsky, Willa Cather, Gertrude Stein, Charles Laughton, and James Dean—be banned because it impinges upon one’s “religious freedom?”

Homosexuality follows human history. I can’t change that. You can’t change that. And LGBT folks can’t change that. Do we enter this lifetime with attraction to opposite or same gender by DNA? By karma? By conflation?

It doesn’t matter.

As for people in business, I can’t fathom a reason to turn down money from any customer—this from my 20 years as a retail business owner. I remember one man who stamped on every single dollar he spent and on his checks: “This money is from a gay man.” He repeated his message-money a thousand times in my business.

So, no I don’t care that Billy and John are gay. I am glad that each of these fine men understands who they are. I am glad that they have found love and a promise to life-commitment—because that is something that eludes so many, regardless of gender identity.

Should this offend one, perhaps one should dig deeper into one’s heart and ask what harm a LGBT person brings to one and one’s business. Look beyond the sex. Look into that person’s eyes for the truth in that person’s heart. Billy and John both have amazing eyes.

Charmaine Coimbra lives in Cambria. Send comments to the executive editor at rmiller@newtimesslo.com.