Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Heritage tries to confuse the bases for non-discrimination laws

Mr. Erste
Wednesday, Mark Erste, an intern at Heritage Foundation writes: “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Laws: When Anti-Discrimination Becomes Discrimination” at the organization's Daily Signal Blog. Mr. Erste is a 2013 graduate of Franciscan U, Steubenville. I am not indulging in an ad hominem response. Rather, it seems fair to point out that Erste is very young and has had little real world experience. In any event this looks like another Ryan Anderson proxy. Heritage does this frequently; Another name quoting Ryan T.

Erste writes about the plight of Cynthia and Robert Gifford, the owners of Liberty Ridge Farm.
… they found themselves defending their religious beliefs before the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court. Their offense? Acting on their belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

We don't serve your kind here!

Their offense was refusing to allow a same-sex marriage at their catering establishment contrary to New York State law. They are at the New York Supreme Court because they have pursued the matter. They are on the offense — not defense. Their appellate attorneys are Alliance Defending Freedom.
The Giffords live on Liberty Ridge Farm, where they hosted seasonal events and weddings in their barn and house. In 2012, a same-sex couple asked Mrs. Gifford to host their wedding. Because of their Christian beliefs, the Giffords declined. An administrative law judge then fined the couple $13,000 for “sexual orientation discrimination.” To avoid future penalties, the Giffords decided to stop hosting wedding ceremonies.. According to Cynthia Gifford, their business has been “significantly” harmed by the following their conscience.
When was the Gifford's "barn" used for anything other than catered events?
Come on. NOM tried the same bullshit, portraying these people as simple farmers. Their farm is a full-time entertainment enterprise. Just look at their website.

Before we go any further, it was the couple denied service that were victimized — not the bigots who turned them away.

As an issue of fact, regardless of how the Giffords and their farm are characterized, Liberty Ridge Farm is a public accommodation. ADF disputes the matter. Please.

As an issue of fact, the Giffords did violate New York law prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. Again ADF disagrees. They seem to imply in their brief that the law is satisfied because same-sex couples attend traditional marriage receptions. Seriously.

ADF claims that the state's anti-discrimination law violates Free Exercise. Not a chance. The Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear Elane Photography v. Willock where ADF made the same preposterous claim. The Giffords are free to worship as they please but if they have a public accommodation they must obey the law.

ADF makes several other spurious claims. You can read their brief.

Getting back to Mr. Erste, he goes on to quote our friend, Ryan T. Anderson. I'll just quote the summaries that Erste makes:
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity laws are ambiguous.
Anderson could make the same claims about any other minority. Who is really African-American? And so on. It seems that people who violate non-discrimination laws have no problem identifying, with crystal clarity, their targets for discrimination.
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity laws threaten fundamental American rights and values, values that both sides in the culture wars share.
Non-discrimination laws have been in effect, federally, since 1964. I think that America has survived. In fact, I would argue that those laws have served us well in shaping our culture. Fairness and equality are the real American values.
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity laws would expose children to adult debates.
Preposterous per se. If he doesn't want children exposed to the debate then simply stop discriminating against LGBT citizens because of the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Church hasn't shown any concern about the statements that they expose gay kids to. The advertising for the proponents of Proposition 8 was disgraceful. They did the same thing in Maine.
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity laws invade privacy.
Privacy is not at issue except to the extent that what people do in the privacy of their bedroom is nobody's business.
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity laws would force employers to censor their speech and beliefs and those of their employees.
There is no compelling need for an employer to repeatedly tell a gay employee that he or she is a sinner or pervert, or whatever. Avoiding a hostile work environment is pretty easy. Would they expose Jewish employees to the claims of business owners or managers that they are Christ killers who are destined for Hell? Anderson's life is dedicated to what other people do in their bedroom. Most employers are more concerned with their profitability. Of course Anderson has never worked for a for-profit employer.
  • Finally, sexual orientation and gender identity laws trample citizens’ rights to make decisions based on reasonable beliefs about sexuality.
Trampled rights? Why on earth do people have to make decisions affecting others based on sexuality? The rights that are most frequently trampled upon are those of LGBT citizens to enjoy Equal Protection. In the case of Liberty Ridge Farm, it was the lesbian couple who had their rights trampled in violation of the law.

Erste concludes:
Anderson’s arguments show that we should allow the market to provide live-and-let-live solutions to the sensitive issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Such solutions allow both sides space to live their lives without government interference. Pennsylvania’s legislators would do well to consider Anderson’s compelling case that the best way to respect freedom and dignity for all is to resist sexual orientation and gender identity laws.
Anderson's arguments demonstrate his religiously motivated agenda. There is no compelling reason why all LGBT citizens should not be free of discrimination in public accommodations, housing and employment. The Giffords will undoubtedly lose their case. There do not seem to be many problems in the Empire State due to non-discrimination laws.

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