Stevenson questions Supreme Court’s ruling

To the editor:

These days seem to present an unending stream of unbelievable and amazing developments. Not the least of them is the Supreme Court ruling to expand the Constitutional and federal statutory protection against discrimination on the basis of sex to include “sexual orientation and gender identity.” As a point of fact, there is no Constitutional basis for supporting such an interpretation, and no federal statutory ground for such protection.

Appeal in this case was made to Title VI and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, or sex in any program or activity that receives Federal funds or other Federal financial assistance, and in employment practices. Subsequent amendments and statutes added age and disability to the protected classes. No one at the time thought this protection related to one’s behavioral orientation or conduct, or one’s “gender identity” as distinct from the genetic biological reality of one’s sex.

Justices Roberts and Gorsuch departed from their usual originalist interpretation of the Constitution and the law by oddly acknowledging that, at the time it was added as a protected class, the meaning understood of the word “sex” did not include “sexual orientation and gender identity”, but then asserting that the meaning of the word now has come to include them. Clearly such claimed current definition was not the intent of the drafters of the legislation that included sex as a class to be protected. Even those supporting adding “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the list of protected classes recognize the absence of that meaning in the existing protective law, as they have been pushing passage of the so-called “Equity Act” to explicitly include those designations. The Supreme Court decision essentially presumes to rewrite the dictionary by fiat with its majority opinion, abandoning any respect for original intent in the law.

Additionally, this decision is an astounding departure from long-standing precedent for Constitutional and statutory civil rights. Persons protected from discrimination in our history are defined by immutable characteristics. I do not choose where I am born (national origin or ethnicity); I do not choose my race; I do not choose my sex (genetic/biological); I do not choose my age; I do not choose to be disabled. I cannot change any of these characteristics by choosing; they are immutable, unchangeable.

The only “protected class” that one might assert to be mutable, or changeable, is religion. Yet the founding of this country is fundamentally and deeply rooted in the flight from religious persecution, and the pursuit of the free exercise of one’s faith, established in the first amendment to our Constitution.

Sexual orientation and gender identity, however, are not fixed and immutable characteristics. The matter of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is self-declared, based on how that individual “feels” or chooses to think or behave. And indeed the history of such individuals in society is that such declared status is subject to change. The record is full of persons who once were homosexual and then are not, or who were heterosexual and now are not, were bisexual and now are not. Similarly, the whole concept of gender identity is one of asserting an identity based upon how one feels, and if and when those feelings change, so does the gender identity. Sexual orientation and gender identity are subjective statuses; they are not objective and fixed.

When we abandon established precedent for identifying protected classes, we open to a flood of claims for protected status in the future. When we no longer limit the protected classes to those defined by immutable characteristics, and begin to add classes based upon changeable traits, upon feelings, perspectives, and behaviors — which others may not share or affirm — then we will have lost our way into a quicksand of hurt feelings and aggrieved interest groups.

If we are compelled to extend protected status for another’s chosen behavior in the area of sexuality or gender identity, what basis would there be to deny protected status in employment on the basis of one’s political or social philosophy, even if it is at odds with an employer’s chosen perspective and interests?

In all of this, I am not suggesting justification for ill treatment of others who think and behave differently from my beliefs, values, and practices. I am not “homophobic”, “transphobic” or otherwise phobic; I just respectfully disagree, and believe that in civil society in this country, I should be able to do so honestly without being attacked and abused. I should be able to freely choose with what and with whom I will associate or participate. A respectful civil acceptance of those differing from me does not require me to affirm, celebrate, or participate with those with whom I disagree.

Again, by historical Constitutional and legal precedent, I am protected from discrimination solely on the basis of my characteristics that I did not choose — race, ethnicity, sex, age, disability. Beyond that, my choices have consequences. How I choose to behave, and the values by which I live, are “fair game” for others for making decisions about whether to associate with me or engage with me. And I do have no right to impose my way thinking and feeling upon those who see things differently from me.

Franklin Stevenson

Reader questions jailer’s reasons for party switch

To the editor:

So Michael Lewis, our jailer, decided to switch parties — from Democrat to Republican. According to The Messenger article, he said the Democratic Party was “reactionary” and wanted to “fix everything”. Thank goodness for the efforts of Democrats because Republicans are daily creating problems that need fixing.

Our own city of Madisonville incurred some unbudgeted and unanticipated $1.3 million in coronavirus related expenses. What was the Republican “fix”? Well Mitch McConnell, the highest ranked Republican in our state, publicly stated that states and cities should just file bankruptcy. That’s no fix.

To contrast it was Democrats that pushed for and got the legislation included in the CARES act so states and cities could receive Federal reimbursement for unanticipated coronavirus related expenses. Indeed last week The Messenger reported that Madisonville will receive

$1.3 million from the federal government to help cope with coronavirus related expenses. Thank goodness for the “reactive” Democratic party.

It was the Republicans that in the name of “efficiency” closed multiple state unemployment offices and laid off unemployment office personnel. Now out-of-work Kentuckians are having to wait months for their badly needed unemployment checks due to the lack of offices and personnel brought on by Republicans actions. Thank goodness Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is “reactive” and working hard to fix these problems the Republicans left him.

If all this was not enough, last week the Trump administration argued in front of the Supreme Court to do away with the Affordable Care Act. This act allowed over 500,000 people in March and April, who had lost their jobs, to be able to retain their health insurance. It also ensures that some 54,000,000 people with preexisting conditions can get health insurance. In short the Republicans are trying to take away health care from those who can least afford it — creating problems for 53,000,000 Americans. Thank goodness the Democrats are “reacting” and fighting this Republican effort with all the vigor we can muster to ensure that Americans can continue to have affordable health insurance.

I know Mr. Lewis; he is a good man. It pains me up that he joined the party that creates problems — and left the party that “reacts” and fixes the problems brought on by the Republican Party he just joined. It seems to me a strange choice — to join the party of the problem creators and leave the party of the problem solvers.

G. Herbert Pritchett

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