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La Cage aux Jim Crow: The New Bill That Would Shut Gays Out of Society

A new bill in the New Hampshire legislature is sadly reminiscent of some of America's ugliest history.

For decades now, people have attempted to compare the modern gay rights movement to the famed American civil rights movement of the 1960s. And for every comparison made, some blacks have vocally decried them as being inapt. Writing for USA Today last year, black journalist Ellis Cose called the gay rights-black rights comparison a "false equivalency." Anti-black racism, he wrote, "was relentlessly oppressive, as entire communities were cordoned off and disadvantage was handed down through generations. With gays, we are not looking at roped-off communities."

A shocking new bill in New Hampshire may be enough to change the minds of Cose and his ilk.

This week, the House judiciary committee of the New Hampshire state legislature convened to discuss a bill that would allow businesses to refuse accommodations, goods, or services to gays getting married. New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, though with the caveat that churches and other religious groups could refuse to participate in same-sex ceremonies. The new bill would take that rule a step further, allowing a bakery to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, for instance.

The New Hampshire legislature has taken a hard-right turn of late, prompted by the comeuppance of a group of ultra-conservative Tea Party candidates in the last elections. In December 2011, a trio of freshman House Republicans drafted a bill that would require every bill about individual rights and freedoms to "include a direct quote from the Magna Carta," the centuries-old English proclamation.

If African-Americans—or anyone else, for that matter, would like to continue to argue that the gay rights movement bears no strong resemblance to the civil rights movement, I'd suggest they take a serious look at this new bill in New Hampshire. Indeed, while there are currently no anti-gay, Jim Crow-style blockades at Americans businesses, it's not for lack of trying.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user lsasser

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