Ellen Page came out on Valentine’s Day, shortly after Missouri’s Michael Sam. Both made national news.

When Page came out, she delivered a beautiful speech at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Time to Thrive Conference, hitting nearly every point that needed to be made about our culture and the LGBT community.

“If we took just five minutes to recognize each other’s beauty instead of attacking each other for our differences,” Page said. “That’s not hard.”

Her bravery was honorable, as well as the explosion of support that came from others in the entertainment industry. But the day I’m waiting for is the day that a celebrity can say they’re gay without making national news. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go.

The news has been filled with anti-gay events for the past few weeks — discriminative legislation the most disturbing. For a nation that just finished celebrating African-American History Month, honoring the hard work that some people put into the fight for civil rights in the U.S., it seems that some states really need to sort out their priorities.

The Arizona Legislature passed a measure a couple of weeks ago allowing business owners to assert their religious beliefs and refuse service to gays and others, according to the Associated Press. Similar religious protection legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Kansas, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma, but Arizona’s plan is the only one that got this far. However, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed it.

“I strongly support religious freedom, but this bill is not about religious freedom. In my opinion, this is about legalized discrimination, and I cannot vote in support of this,” said Patricia Sloop, a legislator in Kansas who voted on a similar bill.

Now Oregon is looking into something similar. “Oregonians will have the opportunity in 2014 to protect religious freedom and individual conscience rights now and for future generations of Oregonians,” according to the Oregon Family Council’s November blog post.

It’s understandable that business owners should be able to choose what goes on with their business. They should have the right to act upon their religious beliefs, but not at the expense of the freedom of others. This is where they went wrong.

Thankfully, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has never supported such movements. In a legal filing on Feb. 20, Rosenblum said that she will not defend the state’s ban on gay marriage and argued that the ban “cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review,” according to The Oregonian.

But it’s not just the U.S. that’s taking a couple steps back from the gay rights movement.

On an international scale, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda strengthened Africa’s anti-gay movement, signing into law a bill imposing harsh sentences for homosexual acts. A mob attacked gay people in a neighborhood in the capital of Nigeria, according to the New York Times.

Rachel Watkins, a photographer and writer from Lake Oswego and a member of the LGBT community, has been keeping up with these recent events and thinks we are walking down a dangerous path by bringing religion into politics.

“It’s a constant tug of war between religion and gay rights, what’s right to one may not be right to another, but you can’t deny people rights on your personal beliefs,” she said.

We took a step forward by allowing same-sex marriage in many states. However, if we let these measures pass, it will be another step back. How are these couples supposed to have their perfect wedding when businesses are allowed to refuse them the services they request? They wouldn’t be able to.

That being said, we need to stop mixing the two. Religion has no place in politics, especially if it’s advocating for discrimination of any kind.

“I’ve never met an atheist against marriage equality, and I think that’s really the defining argument,” Watkins said. “If people weren’t being told it was wrong, would they still believe it?”


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