If you want to know why I oppose laws banning private employers from discriminating against gay people, all you need do is read an article in today’s Washington Post. In “Faith Groups Increasingly Lose Gay Rights Fights,” Jacqueline L. Salmon finds:
Faith organizations and individuals who view homosexuality as sinful and refuse to provide services to gay people are losing a growing number of legal battles that they say are costing them their religious freedom.
The lawsuits have resulted from states and communities that have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Those laws have created a clash between the right to be free from discrimination and the right to freedom of religion, religious groups said, with faith losing.
Um, Jacqueline, can you please tell me where you found that “right” to be free from discrimination. I’ve checked the constitution and sure didn’t find it there. Now, in reviewing that august document, I did see this in the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (emphasis added). (And through the Fourteenth Amendment, that also applies to the states.)
Ms. Salmon cites a number of examples where individuals, organizations and entrepreneurs were fired for, fimed for or barred from refusing service to or inclusion of gay people. Now, I personally think these groups are wrong to so exclude gays, but they’re not requiring me to buy their product or participate in their activities.
At the same time, if a gay group wanted to exclude Christians from its membership, it should be free to do so. Their right to do that would come from the First Amendment’s clause on “the right of the people peaceably to assemble” and also possibly the Ninth Amendment.
But, these constitutional protections don’t seem to be a barrier to gay groups in their zeal to reduce the freedom of private individuals and organizations. They are prevailing in courts according to Ms. Salmon “because an individual’s religious views about homosexuality cannot be used to violate gays’ right to equal treatment under the law.”
Say what? That’s not equal treatment under the law. That’s using the law to limit individuals’ freedom, just as it would be if Christians used the law to mandate that gay organizations include ex-gays or that gay businesses serve the Christian Coalition.
It would seem that Jennifer Pizer, director of the Marriage Project for Lambda Legal, agrees. She says, “We are not required to pay the price for other people’s religious views about us.” I mean, the plain meaning of her words is that we shold not being required to to patronize companies owned or operated by those who believe homosexual behavior is sinful.
But, for some reason, I think Ms. Pizer wants to force individuals who hold such viewpoints to act against their conscience. For her “not required to pay” has a different meaning altogether. It means not allowed to act on their religious views in the marketplace.
Now, like Ms. Pizer, I don’t share the religious views of those who contend acting on our homosexual impulses is sinful, but nothing requires me to purchase the products of those who hold them. Just as nothing should bar private entrepreneurs who disagree with them from serving fundamentalist Christians.
Private employers should be free to discriminate against such individuals if they choose.
We should be free to choose where we purchase our products and whom we serve. With an increasing number of corporations not merely adopting non-discrimination policies protecting gay employees but also offering domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples, it’s clear private corporations recognize the benefits of reaching out to gay people. My own financial planning group held a special reception geared to gay people. And if fundamentalist Christians are upset, well, too bad.Â They can take their business elsewhere.
Personally, I think it’s folly for any business to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation or their faith. Their prejudices deprives them of clientele and thus income. But, that’s their choice. It’s their business.
I suggest we repeal such non-discrimination laws and let the private sector work these things out. As the record shows, it’s been doing a pretty darn good job.