Updated: Jul 15
The Negro Traveler’s Green Book was a guide for Black Americans who were traversing the country’s roadways as automobiles became more plentiful. The book compiled lists of businesses, restaurants and even hotels that welcomed Black patrons. It became an essential guide for those wishing to avoid violence in a highly segregated nation. It derived its name both from the colorful cover and from its author, Victor Hugo Green, a Black postman who lived in the Harlem section of New York City.
Disorder in the Court
When the ultra-Conservative Supreme Court ruled that a business can discriminate against a lesbian couple based upon religious reasons, it opened the door for other businesses to adopt such practices. Which raises this question: do we need a similar guide for the LGBTQ population? Do we need an LGBTQ Green Book?
In its ruling the Conservative majority could have cited some vague reference to First Amendment protections that permit free exercise of religion. But they failed to connect how providing services to a gay couple is in any way a restriction on a person’s religious practices.
Instead, they argued that the issue was Freedom of Speech, which is totally irrelevant to the religious practice provision. It gave businesses a legitimate reason to discriminate against a segment of the population that is becoming increasingly marginalized.
By using religious grounds to justify discrimination, the courts have effectively obliterated the line separating church and state. They performed a legal tap dance by twisting the issue into a free speech justification instead of a religious freedom one while conveniently ignoring the equal protections clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Until that line is restored, members of the LGBTQ community may need to develop their own version of a Green Book. That way they can be assured they will be properly treated by those businesses who see their rights as American rights.
Elections Have Consequences
When Donald Trump assumed office, it allowed the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reshape the Federal judiciary. Citing a heretofore unheard of “Biden rule”, he refused to allow President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, to even have a hearing when a vacancy opened in the final year of Obama’s term. It was a “rule” McConnell conveniently ignored when an opening appeared at the end of Trump’s term.
With Trump seeking reelection, along with facing several indictments, he is naturally crowing over his role in the Supreme Court’s recent decisions. After all, he was able to appoint three justices to the court during his time in office. So, it makes sense that he would want to use this as a campaign issue.
Usin’ My Religion
While they won’t openly state it, the recent decisions made by the Supreme Court have been religiously motivated. Overturning Roe has long been the goal of Evangelicals who seek to impose their narrow-minded values on the rest of America. The same is true of the limitations being imposed on the LGBTQ population.
The religious right is even closer to turning our nation into the Christian theocracy that was our Founding Father’s’ nightmare. With people finding it necessary to travel, sometimes hundreds of miles, to obtain adequate medical treatment, the necessity of researching a business before you know if they will take your money, or checking out which colleges won’t discriminate you based on race, the court has granted the religious right their dream of returning America to the alleged Christian values they claim was the original intent of our nation’s founders.
They want to return to the “good old days” of back-alley abortions. They want to go back to a time when being outed as homosexual was the kiss of death, career wise. They want to drive the LGBTQ population back into the closet. And they want to deny that the inequities caused by slavery deserve some form of compensation.
Good old days, indeed!
LGBTQ Green Book?
The Green Book was essential for Black travelers prior to the Civil Rights movement. It would appear we now need a multi-faceted version to deal with the restrictions being placed upon certain segments of the population because of the current make-up of our federal judicial system.