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Kentucky Senate Bill 180 is more proof, as if proof were needed, that gay is the bigots’ new black in the Bluegrass State.

kentucky sb 180

Gay Is the Bigots' New Black in Kentucky—Berry Craig

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London, would permit business owners to refuse service to a gay, lesbian or transgender customer on religious grounds.

The bill passed a Senate committee with Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, casting the only dissenting vote.

Robinson, the committee chair, insists SB 180 protects “freedom of religion” and “free speech.” What it really does is legalize discrimination, like the old Jim Crow laws did against African Americans. More than a few whites claimed “race mixing” offended their Christian sensibilities.

People who use the Bible to justify their homophobia remind me of white supremacists who cited the Bible to buttress their racism.

I’m 66. I still live in Mayfield, where I was born and grew up at the end of the Jim Crow era. Segregation and race discrimination were the law and the social order in my hometown and everywhere else in Kentucky. The color bar was even more rigid in the old Confederate states.

I remember white-owned businesses with signs that said, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anybody.” That meant anybody whose skin was black.

If SB 180 passes the House and Senate—doubtless Republican Matt Bevin, Kentucky’s reactionary governor, would be happy to sign it—I guess the signs can go back up. Everybody will know what they’ll mean, too.

Anyway, people who use the Bible to justify their homophobia remind me of white supremacists who cited the Bible to buttress their racism.

Just as homophobes claim the Bible condemns same-sex marriage, segregationist whites said marriage between African Americans and whites went against God.

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents,” declared Virginia Judge Leon Bazile in support of a state law that forbad whites and blacks to wed. “And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

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Bazile insisted he was a good Christian. So did many white Kentuckians who favored a similar state “miscegenation” law.

Mississippi Sen. Theodore Bilbo also condemned “race mixing” and said he loved Jesus. Besides African Americans, he hated Jews and he packed a Ku Klux Klan card.

“Nothing could be more foreign to the ideals of the Christian religion than miscegenation and amalgamation,” Bilbo said. “There is absolutely no foundation for advocating the mixing of the blood of the races as a part of our religious doctrines.”

The likes of Bazile and Bilbo maintained that the Bible was the literal word of God. So do many, if not most, churchgoing gay haters.

I can’t find in the Good Book where Jesus rants against “race mixing.” Nor have I been able to discover a single word the Prince of Peace uttered about gay, lesbian and transgender folks. Quite the contrary--I learned in Presbyterian Sunday school that Jesus taught that we are all God’s children.

In any event, just as the likes of Bazile and Bilbo railed against racial equality as a dire threat to the (white) American way of life, Robinson and his ilk view equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender Americans as leading to the downfall of the republic.

I taught history for 24 years in a community college. History teaches that it’s powerful enemy armies or well-armed domestic insurgents that topple societies and governments.

Ask the Romans, who had that pesky barbarian problem, or Louis XVI who lost his throne and his noggin during the French Revolution, or Napoleon who met his Waterloo, or the Nazis, Fascists and Japanese militarists in World War II.

It is ironic that Robinson is a Londoner. On Jan. 31, 1865, another man from his hometown struck a powerful blow against bigotry and for genuine liberty in Washington. His name was William Harrison Randall, an Unconditional Unionist who helped start Kentucky’s Republican party.

Rep. Randall’s vote helped the House of Representatives pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery.

Berry Craig

Sadly, the GOP of “Lincoln and Liberty” and W.H. Randall is long gone.

Berry Craig