When I was reading about the recent anti-gay bill passed by Arizona legislatures I had a fourth grade flashback. I remembered the incident clearly. I was standing in the near empty classroom when my good friend told me something that another girl in our class had said about me. According to my friend, this other girl (let’s call her Stacy) didn't want to be my friend “because you’re poor”. It was wicked mean. And true. My family was poor.
What I didn't understand then and what I don’t understand now is what those things –my family’s lack of income or someone’s sexual orientation- have to do with well, anything.
Was my family’s lower socio-economic status going to have a direct impact on my ability to be a good friend? Was it a mark on my character? In the same manner, does someone’s sexual orientation mean that he or she isn't going to pay for the service that a business provides? It just doesn't make sense to me.
People are citing religious freedom as a reason to pass this bill. I believe in religious freedom, but I also believe in the freedom to just be. And why should only the religious have freedom? Why is it that those who don’t “fit the bill” should have no freedom when it comes to choosing where they want to shop or dine? Is our country poised to return to the days when segregation was alive and well and plastered above the doors of business establishments?
It’s heartbreaking to hear that people who claim to be followers of Christ spend more time keeping themselves separate from others than sharing the love of Christ with them. The concept of customer service isn’t about judging the customers you serve or refusing customers outright. It’s about serving the customer.
The truth of the matter is that we’re all different. Each and every one of us. That's what makes life so interesting isn't it? We're all different and unique and quirky in our own way. Not one of us is better than someone else. We all have strengths and weaknesses and are muddling our way through life.
Romans 3: 9, 10 is very clear: “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks are under sin, as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one."
If you’re in favor of this bill being passed I encourage you to consider the impact of what you're about to do. Not just the impact on your business, but on humanity as a whole. Think about the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Put yourself in the shoes of the person(s) you want to deny service to. What would that feel like? What might that do to your self-esteem, your self-worth, your very being?
For those folks who stand to be affected by this bill, perhaps it’s time to find a different place to eat or shop. A place where the goal of customer service is just that -providing a service to the customer (Rocco's Little Chicago Pizzeria). But in the process, remember that these business owners are people too. Their actions are hurtful, but haven't we all shown that side of ourselves at one time or another in life? I know I've had my "Stacy" moments. Tit for tat would not be appropriate here. Instead, stand tall and let your character shine through. And don't forget that Golden Rule...