Monday 24 Oct 2016

How to Know
AJ Robinson

Some years ago, I worked at an engineering company, and got to be friends with one of my co-workers. We made for a good team. I had the book learning, an engineering degree from Georgia Tech, but not much experience. He only had a basic college degree, but he had a ton of street knowledge.

I love to write scripts, to imagine stories played out.

When it came to most aspects of a project, I deferred to him. We also shared a love of movies. He was an indie, an independent filmmaker. I loved to write scripts, to imagine stories played out. We were a good team.

We also shared a love of Asian food, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, it didn’t matter, we loved it. Although, if the truth be told, I think he loved Asian women more than did anything else. He sure seemed to hit on the waiting staff, every chance he got.

When you live in Orlando, Florida, you have a lot of such restaurants, and women, to draw on. There’s quite the international community in Orlando. That’s not mentioning the travellers, either.

Recent events have me thinking about our lunches together. We’d head out to one of these restaurants, get a table and order a meal. Sitting there, I’d cast my eyes about the room; there were always plenty of other office people getting lunch.

Sometimes it would be a man or woman alone, others were couples, mixed gender and, sometimes, mixed races, and some were single gender couples or even large groups. At the time, it never occurred to me to wonder if any of them were gay couples or if anyone thought I and my friend were a couple.

Now, there are religious protection bills, in many states.

Then came recent events, I mentioned earlier. These days, many Republican governors and state legislators are passing what they call “religious protection” laws. Now, they can dress these laws up with all the fancy words they want, but what they all boil down to is the same thing: the right to discriminate against people they don’t approve of, namely, homosexuals.

It got me to wondering something, and this is very important. How will the businesses know which couples are gay? Will the manager or server guess?

What would an establishment do, in the case of my old co-worker and me? Would the manager assume we are gay and bar us from the place? That would cut into their business. Would they ask, and then just trust us to speak the truth? What, if asked, we said we weren’t gay? Then what would management do if we spent the entire meal holding hands?

Knowing my old friend and me, we would do is proclaim, quite loudly in fact, that we were gay, we were married and that we had just had our fifth child via a surrogate. All of that would be a complete and total lie, but the restaurant wouldn’t know that. What would the management or staff do? I guess tell us to leave.

These are not Jim Crow laws, these are worse.

It seems clear to me that these laws are completely silly. They’re not like the Jim Crow laws of the Old South or the Apartheid policies of South Africa. It was easy to identify the targets of those laws. When a law aims at the invisible or easily concealed, such as gays, how do you enforce it?

I don’t know where these lawmakers think they are going with laws like this, but I just can’t see it ending well. They can claim that the laws aren’t a form of legalized discrimination, but when you consider that the only people using them are conservative so-called Christians to justify their refusal to do business with gays and lesbians, I think it’s pretty clear what the intent of these laws are.

In the case of a catering company, florist, photographer and some others connected with weddings, there is a chance of wedding the targets of discrimination, such as gays. When it comes to other businesses, it looks like they’re going to have to go with the honor system.

Yeah, right, good luck with that, people.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

More by AJ Robinson:
Tell a Friend

Click above to tell a friend about this article.

Please report typos or corrections
to the editor




Ricardo Teixeira
The Future
The Unicorn
Ricardo Teixeira