At the NM State Capitol today, representatives from Equality New Mexico, the ACLU, various religious leaders, small business owners, and lawmakers spoke about House Bill 55 and how it would allow business owners to legally discriminate against customers, based upon religious beliefs. The bill specifically targets the LGBT community as it seeks to amend the NM Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Human Rights Act to allow business owners to refuse service to members of the LGBT community based upon religious beliefs. The general consensus that all speakers shared is that the bill is basically an act of hate against an entire community simply for being who they are. According to NM House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, “this legislation (HB 55) is hateful and must be killed.”
As I sat through the press conference, I couldn’t help but foresee a climate of hate developing in my beloved state. Even if (when) HB 55 is killed, the fact that it even made it to committee scares the living hell out of me. As an addiction treatment provider, I spend a big chunk of my time try to guide people out of darkness; yet here’s a piece of legislation that makes it legal for people to hate other people in GOD’s NAME! How have we come to this? What is it about humanity that makes us want to hate others who are different that we are? Do we not see that once hate is internalized, all it leads to is a form of chronic suicide? Truly understanding God should expand our consciousness into love for all living things; if we are really living in God’s name, we should have compassion for all of life, not make it legal to hate others who believe and/or live differently that we do.
Yet, here we are creating an atmosphere of segregation. As Representative Christine Trujillo said, “this bill (HB 55) has the potential to create an environment in which businesses abuse power and segregate our communities. While we can all agree that everyone has the right to their own religion, those beliefs should not be used as a means to deny services to New Mexicans.” I couldn’t agree with Representative Trujillo more. However, there I was, joined by many others who recognize the need to fight hate in an era where oppression seems to rearing its head.
It’s quite simple really: If we allow hate for anyone single groups of people, then we are allowing hate for everyone. The reason is that we are all different and if our religion allows us to hate, then I can assure you there is a religion that will hate us, in return. Hate knows no boundaries. It proliferates and grows once it has roots. If we truly want to be free, then we must fight hatred in any form at all costs.
As Equlity New Mexico Executive Director Amber Royster said, “(this legislation) sets us back decades in terms of equality for all under the law.” If we want to move forward together and end things like the opiate problem in Rio Arriba County, then we cannot allow hate legislation to pass. Why? Because for those who are discriminated against, opiates may be the only release from the hatred they suffer. I’ve seen it many times: Many people who believe they are hated will turn to substances to ease the trauma of hate. I cannot for the life of me understand why any idiot would think it’s ok to actually try and LEGALIZE hatred when all it leads to is trauma.
Therefore, please share this message: We must kill HB 55 before it gets to the Governor’s desk. Call your representatives and senators and take a stand against hatred.