In his comment to my post on the University of Toledo’s decision to suspend an employee for expressing her un-PC views on gay rights, John (AverageGayJoe) asked me to square my opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would prevent private employers from firing an employee because of his sexual orientation and my criticism of the University of Toledo for firing this employee with silly ideas. He asked:
Are you saying that this maxim of yours doesn’t apply when it comes to the University of Toledo? If so, why? UoT may be a public university for all I know but I do recall you rejecting ENDA-like legislation even for the public sector. Why is it that this â€˜right’ to discriminate only applies to homosexuality in your eyes but not elsewhere?
First, I never said I opposed ENDA-like policies for the public sector. [Please note that five hours after posting this, I caught an error in the original version of sentence which I have since fixed. --Dan]
Second, had Ms. Dixon worked for a private institution, say Ohio’s Oberlin College, I would support its right to fire her for her silly statements. I might note the hypocrisy of an institution adopting a non-discrimination policy protecting certain individuals while firing another one for her viewpoint, but would leave it at that.
According to is website, The University of Toledo is a “public metropolitan research university . . . . one of 13 state universities in Ohio.” I believe any public institution must adhere to different standards than a private one. Please note that I expressed as much in the original post: “If the crazy ideas she expresses on her own time don’t prevent her from doing her job on the state‘s time, then she should be allowed to keep her job.” (Emphasis added)
It’s the simple distinction between public and private. I believe we should allow private institutions the freedom to conduct their affairs as they see fit. The marketplace can punish a private enterprise for its discriminatory policies, but state agencies are, by and large, immune from market conditions.
State institutions, since they, by definition, serve us all, must have different standards. While I oppose nondiscrimination laws in the private sector, I favor nondiscrimination policies in the public sector, protecting gay employees from being fired because of their sexual orientation and also protecting social conservatives because of their views on sexual orientation (or other issues).
I have a lot more to say on this matter and may well address it in a subsequent post, but for the moment, will leave it at that, underscoring the difference between public and private institutions. There are many issues this issue brings up, some addressed in the comment thread following the initial post.