Tag Archive | rights

Gay Rights, Religious Rights, and the Political Landscape

In my last post (where I recounted my conversation the girl representing the ACLU) I had mentioned that under state law an employer could fire any one for any reason.  I got a little push-back in the comments (which I don’t mind) and thought about it a little more.

First, I think I overstated that a little.  The commenter is partially right. It is illegal for someone to be fired for race or sex.  Religion was also mentioned, but it’s not true that a person cannot be fired for religion.  Specifically, in the cases of churches and this was the context of my conversation with the girl.  Can a person be fired for being a Muslim?  Yes, if this person was hired into, or converted while working, a Christian or Jewish church or organization.  And a Christian could be fired for the same reason in other religious contexts.

The question is, do religious organizations have a right to hire and retain only those people who hold to  those worldviews/ideologies?

I think the they should.  But this highlights one of the challenges with rights of this type.  The different groups represented fall along a continuum ranging from non-moral to moral/ideological.

And one end of the spectrum we have Race.  Race does not have a moral component.  Race is expressed through appearance and physical characteristics.   Sex is the similar, though one could argue that the differences between the sexes moves it slightly down the continuum.

As we move further, we come to two categories that differ from race and sex.  Religion and sexual practice.  Sexuality by nature is expressed through behaviors, and behaviors have a moral component.  Religions deal with the nature of reality, inform our worldviews, and influence our behaviors and ideologies.

But sexuality also brings its own ideologies.  Especially in a cultural climate where homosexuality is such a politicized area.  If you disagree in regard to legal rights they feel should accompany this aspect of their lives, then you are branded as hate-filled.  In essence, the accusation is that your views are immoral.

This moves sexual orientation and practice to the ideological end of the spectrum.  The problem is that there are competing ideologies at that end, all fighting for what they see as their rights.  To offer one group a right to say, never be fired for being a member of that group is to threaten other groups.  In a sense saying to the other group “your ideology takes a backseat, you must embrace theirs.”

My point here is not to say what the neat and tidy answer is.  The point is that this is the nature of the political and cultural landscape.  So when I talk to someone on the street, taking money in order to promote rights at the idological end of the spectrum, I expect them to know the challenges.  I expect them to have at least heard the other view.  Unfortunately, the young lady I spoke with seems to have not been familiar with it at all.

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My (Condensed) Conversation with the ACLU Girl

Downtown there have been several blue-shirted ACLU people, usually college age, taking donations to help protect “gay rights.”

This afternoon I was heading to my office to grab something when I ran across one of them who told me that some politicians were “trying to use law to discriminate and deprive people of their rights.  Like women’s reproductive rights, gay rights…” and some others that I can’t remember.

She said that, “These lawmakers are using law to enforce their morality and that’s wrong.”

“So you would say that laws shouldn’t enforce a particular moral view?” I asked.

“Right.  It shouldn’t be a factor.” She said.

“But aren’t you trying to force your moral viewpoint?”

Apparently no one had ever asked her this before.  She had brought up abortion, so I asked her about her views on that.

“I personally feel it’s not a positive thing.  But I shouldn’t force my view on others.” She explained.

“But,” I answered, “if pro-life people are right, and the unborn is a valuable human being, then shouldn’t you enforce your view?”

At this point she was visibly uncomfortable, even though my tone was friendly and non-combative.  She changed the subject by explaining that she was out there for “gay rights” not abortion.  She then explained that they were attempting to create legislation that would prohibit employers for firing people due to sexual orientation.  (I didn’t say this, but in this state employers can fire anyone at any time.  So the ACLU would be, if I’m understanding the law correctly, trying to created a special class of protected citizens while the rest of us can be let go for any reason.)

I asked if she thought organizations had the right to hire and retain people that shared their values.  She said they did.  So I asked if she thought religious organizations should be forced to hire or retain people that did not hold their views.  She hesitated, growing more uncomfortable and then said that the hoped someone wouldn’t work at an organziation that didn’t hold their values.  That didn’t answer my question of course, and those types of situations are in the news often, but I let it go.

After a few more minutes she began to hestiate and become more nervous, often apologizing for her nervousness and then said that she knew what she believed but wasn’t good at debating.  My goal wasn’t to change her mind, but to put a stone in her shoe.  So, I brought the conversation to a close by saying that I hoped she would take a little time to think things through a little deeper, since these issues have wider ramifications than we often hear discussed in the public square.

I told her to have a nice day and headed on.

I have nothing against this girl.  She seemed very sweet, and I’m sorry she was uncomfortable.  But it was obvious that she’s been socialized into her beliefs, which led to her promoting specific policies.

But when asked for her reasons, her silence was telling.

 

Gay Marriage: Creating “Equal” Rights out of Thin Air?

One of the most mindlessly used terms these days is “equality.”

Every word has a range of meaning, but we never hear this term defined.  It’s usually thrown around as a way to shut up opposition.  “There should be equality, so X should be supported.”  “Those who don’t agree with X are perpetuating inequality.”

Mostly we hear this in the same-sex marriage debate and, more recently, in regards to the economy.

I was watching a debate between Dennis Prager and Perez Hilton when Prager said that men and women were equal but not the same.  Hilton reacted as if Prager had uttered nonsense which tells me that “sameness” and “equality” are synonyms in Hiton’s mind.  But the question is sameness in what regard?  Equal in what? 

There may be equality among individuals, but that does not mean that all relationships between those individuals are equal.  And the marriage debate is about relationships, not primarily individuals, even though individuals are involved.

So when a man and a woman are in a lifelong committed relationship, they are not in an identical relationship as two men or two women in a same-sex committed relationship.  How do I know?  I know because:

  • 1)The natural outcomes are not the same* (heterosexual relationships naturally produce the next generation of society, as a rule)
  • 2) There are innate differences between men and women. 

Though many would contest #2, the fact is a man can never truly know what it’s like to be a woman and vice versa.  That innate distance creates a dynamic between heterosexual couples that does not exist between same sex couples.

Individuals may be equal in terms of basic human rights, but that does not mean individuals have a right to everything.  I do not have the right to engage in certain things just because others do.  And incidentally, every American citizen currently has the same rights.  Everyone (straight and gay) can engage in, through marriage,  the type of relationship that results in the next generation of society and is with someone of  the opposite sex.  No one (straight nor gay) can engage, through marriage, the type of relationship through marriage that does not result in that end, and is with someone of the identical sex.

Everyone currently has the same rights. No one has ever been able to legally engage in the relationship they are trying to legitimize through legislation. Those who champion gay marriage as a right that has been denied are simply wrong.

 

 

*Obviously not all heterosexual relationships are able to result in children.  But those are exceptions.  I am talking here about categories as a whole.  Childless heterosexual couples are still not the same as same-sex couples because #2 still holds.