Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Continuing Freakout Over the Equality Act

Alliance Defending Freedom
Positioned at the top of Alliance Defending Freedom's home page is this solicitation for donations. CEO Michael Farris took in nearly $500 thousand in compensation in 2019.
The holier-than-thou set is only confirming that their sense of entitlement includes a “right” to discriminate.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an anti-LGBTQ hate group, is having a shit fit over the Equality Act.

It seems a foregone conclusion that the Equality Act will be signed into law this year even if it is a rider to a bill requiring only 51 votes in the Senate. That reality does not sit well with Christian conservatives who are wed to the belief that they are compelled to discriminate against people they disapprove of.

Underlying their disdain are two utterly false notions:
  1. That providing service means approval and;
  2. that it is critically important for Christian conservatives to demonstrate their disapproval of LGBTQ people.
Never mind that we do not seek — and certainly do not require — their approval. Indeed, the very fact that we do not care makes them more intent to demonstrate that we should care.

ADF trafficks in bullshit. The header of their email reads: President Biden’s plan to pass the “Equality Act” could restrict your First Amendment freedoms. Keep in mind that ADF posits that First Amendment freedom of religion includes the right to impose their beliefs on everyone else.

In 1879 we were, as a nation, more rational and reasonable. In Reynolds v. United States the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that making plural marriage illegal did not deprive Mormons of First Amendment rights to Free Exercise.

In so doing, the Court ruled that the First Amendment prohibited Congress from enacting any law that regulated religious beliefs but laws regulating conduct are permissible. Reynolds provides a basic tenet of American jurisprudence that has survived challenges for over 140 years.

A little more than 100 years later, President Ronald Reagan, with some help from Jerry Falwell, fucked everything up. Conservative Christians became an important political force to which the GOP has pandered ever since.

Nevertheless, in 1990 the Supreme Court ruled in Employment Division v. Smith that a religious duty did not create an exemption to law. The result is that both parties pandered and we ended up with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The RFRA has been a mixed bag in regards to discrimination.
Getting back to ADF's email
The rhetoric is baseless but probably appeals to ADF's constituency:
President Biden has said that he would be a unifier and president for “all Americans.” But the policies he supports suggest otherwise—proposals like the so-called “Equality Act.”

It’s a nice name. But it’s far from accurate,          .

It’s not equality when people of faith face government coercion and punishment if they live and work consistently with their beliefs.
And there you have it. With employment discrimination resolved (for now) with the ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County ADF is claiming that nondiscriminatory service in public accommodations is “government coercion.”. Again, this is possibly premised on the notion that service equals approval.

The same argument could be presented by a Klansman required to serve Jews. Yet, isn't that at the core of nondiscrimination laws? They are only necessary because there are those people who are determined to discriminate. 

We all subsidize public accommodations with roads, infrastructure, police protection and fire fighters, all paid for with public money.

Eugene Volokh (who, by the way, is one of the most frequently cited lawyers in the country) has said, and I am paraphrasing, that certain artists should be free to choose venues. Professor Volokh did file an amicus brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop in favor of Colorado. Apparently, baking a cake is not the artistic equal of (sculpter) Jeff Koons' works.

The point is that most of the services we require from public accommodations are not derived from artistic endeavors. As a Jew, I have a religious objection to turning away business. I think that baker Jack Phillips is certifiably insane. He is in business to make a profit. His demonstration of disapproval came at a price.

ADF's unsigned email continues:
It’s not equality when free speech is reserved for some people while others face government censorship and punishment for their ideas and expression.

And it’s not equality when female athletes are forced to compete on an unfair playing field against biological males.
The first sentence, above, is rubbish. Speech is not conduct and service is not speech. Trans girls competing in athletics is used as an extreme example intended to shock people.

Assuming that about 0.6% of the high school population is composed of transgender students then about 0.3% are trans girls. I might further assume (quite generously) that one-third of those kids are athletic participants which means that there might be one such individual in a high school of 1,000 students and she might not excel.

Nevermind that testosterone suppression directly affects athletic performance. Furthermore, I suspect that nothing in the Equality Act would prohibit athletic conferences from establishing standards for participation.

In the past ADF has even claimed that students will pretend to be transgender to create an athletic advantage. There is a reason that ADF is considered a hate group.

ADF concedes the point that service is confused with approval although they do not realize that they are doing so:
Similar laws at the state and local levels have created these exact situations again and again. Like the “Equality Act,” these laws add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes to existing nondiscrimination laws.

It’s no secret that millions of Americans disagree on matters such as marriage and human sexuality. But disagreement is not discrimination.
We do not fucking care about opinions. Some people believe that the only valid marriages are between opposite-sex Christians of the same race who have not been previously married. ADF is correct. “Disagreement is not discrimination.” Refusing service to a protected class is discrimination.
At the risk of being hyperbolic, if opinions are the impetus for permissible conduct in contravention to applicable law then no nondiscrimination measure in the nation is safe. Religion does not require anyone to discriminate.
The above would be readily apparent if it came to ADF's attention that some Muslim owner of an eatery refused to serve Christians. Suddenly his religious freedom™ would be irrelevant.
The “Equality Act” would make government overreach the law of the land.

By definition, good laws respect our constitutional freedoms; they promote justice and fairness; they benefit society as a whole; and they support the common good—not just the interests of particular groups. Bad laws create victims. They create chaos.
These schmucks have the “constitutional freedom” to believe in the sanctity of liverwurst. Laws protecting LGBTQ people do promote justice and fairness and they do benefit society as a whole; supporting the common good.

When it comes to pandering to the interests of a particular group, ADF wants that group to be them and likeminded ultra-conservative Christians. If those people actually feel victimized because they do not have a license to discriminate then they are Christian supremacists who feel entitled to Christian privilege.

Eventually we get to the point of this bullshit:

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