A popular insurance company pays a great deal of advertising money to let everyone know that they are in fact “our good neighbors.” They populate commercial after commercial with cheery, miraculously at-your-service agents who care about their clients above all else.
While I am sure their real agents are customer relations friendly, the reality is they are likely no more so than any other public facing company. The associates, employed by the company, who personify saintly best friend types the most, are the actors in the ads.
The truth is, customers are not important loved ones in the lives of service people. We are, at best, friendly, tip-paying, lucrative transactions. We don’t represent go-to shoulders to cry on, we represent income, and even the warmest heart moving gesture is a business decision.
Likewise, as consumers, we are not buying advice, approval or input from those serving us.
The cashier at the local grocery store is not our equal partner in deciding how we feed our family and whether we are good parents or not. He or she does not get a vote in how we run our lives, instead, we look for that person to treat us professionally and with equal courtesy as they would all others.
Proponents of the conservative “Religious Freedom” strategy would have us believe differently. To them, a Christian business person is not only beyond a transaction based relation, they are an intimate who should have a personal say, and commentary on the lives of their LGBT clientele, lives in which most would say the business person has no stake.
This “commentary” usually comes in the form of rejection, judgment and the refusal of service. It is rude, and it is humiliating.
In some of these cases, these behaviors are not only mean-spirited, they are illegal and go against local non-discrimination laws.
Barronelle Stutzman, a florist in Washington, just lost in her bid to discriminate against two gay men wanting to marry. Her flowers had been sentimentally important to them in their romance, and her rejection soured their betrothal.
Others are legal, but wrong.
In a recent case a pediatrician, Dr. Vesna Roi, rejected lesbian moms and their baby as clients. She had been vetted and the couple felt protected and validated, then she shamed them for being who they were as parents. The family had no legal protection due to a failure in Michigan’s laws.
Such actions are legal in most states. Arkansas and Indiana have recently made moves to not only make sure discrimination is legal; they have taken steps to encourage it.
Refusing service to LGBT families when it happens is cruel and demeaning. The couples it happens to are blindsided. The rejection seems to be rigged like stink bombs going off in the moments that should be positive milestones in the family’s experience.