What is justice? Is justice simply what the law says it to be, or perhaps is it inclusive and protective of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, religion and so on? For many individuals they are protected by the law, but for members of the LGBTQ community that is not always the case. Some same sex couples, like Krista and Jami Contreras who live in a state which grants LGBTQ with no protective laws, experienced discrimination and humiliation that affected not only them, but also their daughter Bay, because they do not fit into the heteronormative category of cisgender that is overly dominant within the justice system. With laws that are in favor of cultural and societal sexual ‘norms’, discrimination towards the LBGTQ, trans and all other minority communities is common place in many areas of the world because they are not viewed as equal, due to their intersecting values and traits, which in turn lead to oppression and marginalization.
Much like the Contreras, who experienced sexual discrimination, many members of marginalized groups face similar circumstances of exclusion and judgement that affects their everyday lives. For example, blacks fought and are still fighting against racism and transgender people have to face a society that often looks down upon them and criticizes them because of their gender socialization. Krista and Jami’s story demonstrates that yes, when their doctor refused treatment for their six day old baby girl she had the right based on her moral and religious beliefs, but just because such a law protected their doctor didn’t mean that the Contreras were safe as well. In order for justice to be protective and fair to all individuals it must be inclusive of all umbrella terms and intersecting qualities when it comes to things such as gender, race and religion. Dr. Vesna Roi’s refusal to do her job and treat a patient with same sex parents because it went against her moral beliefs is not in fact wrong, she is entitled to freedom of belief, but how can one say that it is right when you look at the position the Contreras were put into?
As Dr. Cornel West said, “You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t serve the people unless you save the people” meaning that when something, such as a law, is put in place to protect certain individuals, it should not in turn discriminate or harm any other groups within the community. For the Contreras, they were not given the right to fight the prejudice that they faced because Vermont does not offer any such legislation to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms for the LGBTQ community. The situation that they faced with Dr. Roi was one sided, justice was in favor of the gender binaries that are socially constructed and excluding of those that do not conform. The Contreras story is the case for so many people that are faced with interconnecting and marginalizing factors in their life that they can even be legally denied the right to be treated by healthcare professionals. When looking at such oppression how can the government say that they are serving for the justice of the people if they are jeopardizing and harming certain groups of people that should be given the exact same fundamental rights and freedoms as anyone else.
Justice is hard to define because not every person is going to view the term and what it looks like within a community in the same way. However, if the law were to protect their citizens based on what West said, “justice is what love looks like in public” then perhaps all people would be entitled to their rights, freedoms and feel safe, regardless of their sexuality or any other marginalizing factor. In order for justice to serve the whole of the community those that put justice into place must take into consideration everyone’s positionality, sexuality, culture and religion to make justice an inclusive, non-judgemental and non-oppressive system. Certainly we do not live in a perfect world and individuals opinions, morals and beliefs are going to vary and clash, but the first step towards justice for all is by working in solidarity with all groups, not just heterosexuals or whites, but rather every race and community, whether they are in power or oppressed. For the Contreras, while Dr. Roi was given the right to defend herself based on her personal values, the Contreras were not in turn granted the same equality and fairness, and in order for justice to serve all equally, it must respect, accept and protect everyone’s sexual orientation, beliefs, race and ideals.
“Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couples Baby.” Myfoxdetroit.com. 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.
“Dr. Cornel West – Official Website.” Dr. Cornel West – Official Website. Web. 3 Mar. 2015. <http://www.cornelwest.com/>.