Thursday, August 6, 2015

Reasonable compromise? Why should we compromise equality?

Ryan T. Anderson
Ryan T. Anderson, Defender of the Faith™, has devoted most of his energy over the past few years to opposing marriage equality. Anderson's Crusade came to a screeching halt on June 26 when the Supreme Court determined that marriage equality was required to provide gay citizens with equal protection and due process. Since then, Anderson has written innumerable polemics and even a book about the evils of gay marriage, the evils of “radical” gay activists, the absurdity of Justice Kennedy and the need to “resist” the judgment of the Court. He has called for civil disobedience and a resistance movement.

Anderson is no Gandhi and we are not living in occupied France.

Thursday, Anderson seems to have decided that he can purchase more traction with an essay at NRO titled “After Court’s Gay-Marriage Ruling, We Need Peaceful Coexistence, Not Culture War.” Can't we all just get along? Anderson proposes the First Amendment Defense Act as a culture war armistice. Anderson asks:
Do we really need the federal government to coerce every last baker, florist, and adoption agency to violate their beliefs about marriage? 
In addition to being a Defender of the Faith, Anderson is a demagogue — and he is not very good at it. Apparently, we do need the government to enforce valid anti-discrimination laws that were enacted by the people's elected representatives. Over the last ten years or so a handful of bakers and a florist have chosen to deny service to gay couples. It's just a few and we know their names because of the amount of ink that has been spilled on their behalf.

Denying service remains unacceptable. The adoption agency that Mr. Anderson is referring to is Catholic Charities. States outsource adoption to private agencies that do the work of the state. Those agencies are paid with tax dollars and it is simply unacceptable for them to discriminate. If Catholic Charities wanted a pass on not placing children in Jewish homes we would not even tolerate the conversation. Why should we entertain discourse regarding the suitability of gay couples?

Anderson goes on to write:
Government policy should not trample on the consciences of citizens who dissent from official policies on sexuality. Government discrimination against social-service providers who believe marriage is a male-female relationship undermines our nation’s commitment to reasonable pluralism and diversity. The First Amendment Defense Act would prevent this.
[ … ]
The First Amendment Defense Act is one way of achieving civil peace even amid disagreement. To protect pluralism and the rights of all Americans, liberals should forswear coercion and embrace tolerance.
Except that the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) tramples on the equality rights of LGBT citizens and taxpayers. FADA would create a federal license to discriminate. Christian conservatives are trying to sell this discriminatory bill as a means of “protecting” people who believe that marriage should be limited to opposite sex couples. That is unacceptable per se. But FADA goes well beyond marriage. As written it facilitates massive discrimination against LGBT citizens and taxpayers for just about any reason. It is akin to amending the Civil Rights Act to allow for a Klansman to refuse service to Blacks and Jews in commerce based upon his sincerely held religious beliefs.

Either Mr. Anderson has not read the text of FADA, doesn't understand the impact of the proposed bill or is the consummate cynic — or all three combined. Fortunately this thing isn't going anywhere. It might not even get out of committee in the Senate and if, by some chance, it passed both houses, President Obama sure as hell isn't signing it.

But that's not the point. Anderson and his ilk will keep chipping away until something that is highly discriminatory seems like a compromise. His goal is to make LGBT citizens appear to be radical and unreasonable. Without our constant diligence he could succeed.

Compromise requires good faith. Anderson and his friends have demonstrated nothing but contempt for LGBT citizens. He believes every word of what then Cardinal Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict) wrote. We are “objectively disordered.” How do your reach accord with people who fervently believe that you sexual orientation is a serious mental illness?

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