A Salt Lake City anti-discrimination ordinance carried little or no controversy until the possibility of homosexuals being protected was proposed. Equality Utah (a gay rights advocacy group) and others on the left are pushing for the proposal to include homosexuals, while conservatives such as Gov. Gary Herbert are refusing to call this a “protected class,” and claim that the discrimination is already minimal. Such issues are always inevitable in the world of politics where consistency is avoided like the plague.
In the past and present the LGBT rights movement has commonly put forward a magnificent maxim: two consenting adults should be able to do as they please. In other words, why is it the business of the government if two people engage in a peaceful voluntary contract? However, I am saddened to hear that Equality Utah is not upholding this principle consistently and they are just as much in the wrong in this situation as those they are criticizing.
As Voltaire once said, “I disagree with what this man has said, but I defend to the death his right to say it.” I feel compelled to say something similar: discrimination is irrational, but I defend anyone’s right to do it. On what grounds can you advocate anti-discrimination laws by force of government and at the same time demand government stay out of marriage? In other words, do you have the right to force your employer to not fire you?
By no means am I saying I am in favor of discrimination; my claim is that people have the right to be irrational or rude if they choose to as long as violence is not involved. I hold up completely my employer’s right to fire me for being a heterosexual-white-male-libertarian-atheist. It just means I believe no one should be forced to associate with me against their will.
If I might put forward a proposal for the LGBT rights movement: If you don’t recognize your employer’s right to fire you for whatever reason he/she wants, then the message about the injustice of not being able to marry whoever you want loses its power.
There is another principle implicit in what we are talking about — that no person owns the time and energy of another human being. No one owns their employer’s right to fire them, and no one owns anybody’s right to marry who they want. I suggest we grant the same freedoms to everyone we care for. This will make Equality Utah’s message that much more powerful.