One of the ironies is that even though I am one of the most "out" gay attorneys in Hampton Roads, I have a large and growing Hindu client base. I sometimes say that perhaps this phenomenon is due in part to the fact that those who hate me - generally Christofascists and Republicans - also hate them. I have found this client pool to be smart, focused on education, tolerant, and very loyal. A number are Facebook friends, so they are well aware of my political views and that I am gay. Unlike, those on the right, they are able to look to one's character and competence rather than just see some ugly stereotype marketed by anti-gay extremists. I deeply value these remarkable clients. Sadly, pursuant to state law, North Carolinians are now free to discriminate and victims of discrimination face reduced legal remedies - all because the North Carolina Republicans surrendered to the demands of Christofascists for special rights to discriminate against those who are different. The News and Observer has an op-ed by a Hindu graduate student that looks at the hideous agenda behind these "religious freedom" and pro-discrimination laws. Here are excerpts:
My name is Jaisabrish Sankarkumar, a name that can be intimidating both by how many letters are in it and by how foreign it may look. Most people know me as Jai Kumar and call me Jai.
I was born in a small village in India, to two loving parents who were both physicians and had their own highly successful medical practice. In 1990, they decided to sell their practice and their house and relocate their family so that their children would have better access to education and opportunity. . . . Ultimately, they settled on North Carolina because we had family nearby, the schools were reportedly great, access to higher education was plentiful and excellent, and it was known as a welcoming and warm place.
Sadly, if they were left to make those choices today, I can’t say they would make the same choice.
You see, the message being broadcast by the reforms and policies is that, “North Carolina is closed.” By enacting voter ID laws, cutting funding to public schools, not expanding Medicaid and passing bills like House Bill 2, lawmakers are saying, “If you’re different, pick another state.”
Last year my mom was met with a horrific burn injury that left her hospitalized for the better part of nine months with ongoing surgeries and therapy that continue to this day. My parents had good insurance, and I saw the medical bills, and we were fortunate to escape with minimal damage to our financial security. However, there are countless others in this state who, if put in the same situation, would have to sacrifice everything to ensure their loved ones survived. By not expanding Medicaid, lawmakers have once again risked the future of an untold number of North Carolina families. And the door closes a little a more.
When they passed voter ID laws and House Bill 2, they finally came around to shutting the door on everyone who looks, thinks and acts a little differently from them. By removing civil protections to sue in state court for discrimination, they violated equal protection of their citizens. By positioning the bathroom issue as the crux of HB2, they chose to hide behind fear of difference rather than engage in conversation and learn about what they don’t know.
The narrative of a progressive welcoming place, a place where the entire nation should visit, a place where the most divisive issues were which style of barbecue you preferred has been cast aside.
If lawmakers took some time to get to know the people of their state, they’d find that this place is full of beautifully different people and that those who they never would have thought to befriend can become their closest of kin.
North Carolina is my home, and all of us, whether born here or transplanted here, owe it to her not to give up on her future and to reopen the door to invite everyone back in.
What is frightening is that Virginia Republicans would like to close the door to those who are different in Virginia just as the North Carolina GOP has done in our neighboring state to the south. Fear and hate are not family values or Christian values if one listens to the Gospel massage - a message utterly ignored by the Christofascists.