To the editor:
Almost as breathtakingly radical as the Biden-Harris administration “executive orders” in its first two months is the sweeping range of legislation proposed by the thin Democratic majority in the Congress, proposals which fly in the face of historical practice and Constitutional precedent.
Chief among these is the so-called “Equality Act”, formally known as HR 5, enacting inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity under the Constitutionally protected classes recognized in federal law under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, thus outlawing discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, etc., on the basis of one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
In reality, what this act would accomplish is the statutory legitimization of discrimination against persons who think differently about matters of belief, worldview, and choice. This bill provides the basis for discriminating, persecuting, and prosecuting those who hold a differing view of matters of life and relationship than those promoting this legislation. It establishes what are “thought crimes,” outlawing reasonable choices and actions based on what are defined by the proposed law as prohibited thinking and belief.
Historically, Constitutional precedent and federal law have established classes protected from discrimination that have this common characteristic — the protected status is an immutable characteristic, not chosen by the person, nor able to be changed by choice.
These classes are race, national origin or ethnicity, sex, age, and disability, along with religion. Religion, one can rightly point out, is a matter of choice and is changeable, yet religion has a specially established place in the Constitution within the First Amendment. All the rest are neither chosen nor changeable by choice.
Contrastingly, sexual orientation and gender identity are not immutable and unchangeable. Rather, they are ultimately matters of choice and belief, an assertion without a concrete objective evidence. The classic protected classes are identified as in that status by a matter of documented fact — where born, when born, what genitalia are present, parents’ race, a disabling event or disease. Sexual orientation and gender identity are changeable by choice — “fluid,” as the current expression goes.
While my chosen belief leads me to treat all those around me with respect and dignity (even when I do not seem to be experiencing reciprocal treatment by those others), I also believe it legitimate and important for me to make discerning choices — exercise discrimination — about with whom I associate, with whom I engage in business, with whom and among whom I live.
Realistically among encounters and transactions, business or social dealings in life, the differences in values and understandings — worldview, if you will — indicated by the choices made by others may either be materially inconsequential to the specific interaction or exchange, or they may be cause for excusing and excluding myself from such interaction and exchange. I may legitimately decide that I would prefer not to enter into contract or business with such others.
HR 5 would make my exercise of that choice of free association illegal as regards those who have chosen to embrace a sexual orientation with which I disagree, or those who have asserted themselves to be a gender other than their biological sex at birth.
The declared embrace of those choices of belief by such persons implies a whole other worldview and value system than mine. I should rightly be respected in exercising a choice not to employ them with my business, or in certain positions within my operation, or at certain levels of responsibility within my organization.
Many vigorously advocating for passage of HR 5 also advocate boycotting businesses with leaders holding differing views socially or politically — organizing, promoting, and perpetrating economic disenfranchisement of those people and businesses. The likes of Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters even advocate organized harassment in public places of those with whom she disagrees on such matters.
If those acts of discrimination are acceptable with regard to the choices of those subjected to boycott (and I think boycotts are a legitimate exercise of choice), how is it not acceptable for me to boycott those who have made choices with which I disagree?
Passage of the “Equality Act” would actually disenfranchise and criminalize all those who disagree with the chosen views and values regarding sexual orientation and matters of gender identity.
Such a state of affairs as this legislation proposes would be the equivalent of prohibiting me from choosing not to hire a person to work with my conservative policy advocacy group who has openly shared progressive socialist policy views, or outlawing my choosing not to rent space owned by me to persons whose choices and behavioral intentions I find objectionable and contrary to my convictions and beliefs.
HR 5 would impose a critical death knell to the exercise of the legitimate discrimination that is the liberty of freedom of association. Urge your senators to vigorously oppose HR 5 — the “Equality Act”.
Mr. Stevenson is a city councilman in Madisonville representing Ward 5.