We often hear from the religious right about gays seeking “special rights”, but they never define the difference between a “special right” and a plain old fashioned right. Here’s a perfect example of the circular logic involved in such statements, from an email sent out by the Free Market Foundation (as a side note, I find it quite irritating when social conservative groups adopt the insignia of economic libertarianism like this. They do not really believe in the free market at all. When people operating in the free market choose to watch adult movies, they want to restrict their ability to make that free choice. When people in the free market choose to watch TV shows they disapprove of, they start boycotts to get rid of the “filth” on TV. There is nothing the least bit “free market” about this). Anyway, this is what the Free Market Foundation had to say:
U.S. Bill Attempts to Give Specialized Protection to Homosexuals
H.R. 3128, a clarification of the Federal Employment Protection Act, includes an added provision to give special treatment to a group of people based solely on their behavior (i.e.: sexual orientation). If passed, the bill would make it illegal to discriminate against homosexuals in federal hiring. Currently, homosexuals receive the same protections as other employees. As of last week, H.R. 3128, authored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has 16 co-sponsors, including three republicans.
This is quite interesting. The Federal Employment Protection Act (FEPA) bars discrimination in federal hiring on the basis of race, color, creed, religion and “conduct unrelated to the job.” During the Clinton administration, sexual orientation was considered as a subset of conduct unrelated to the job, and one would certainly think that any sane person would agree that it should be. If you do your job well, what possible difference could it make whether you love someone of the opposite sex or someone of the same sex? None whatsoever. But Scott Bloch, Bush’s director of the Office of Special Counsel (the agency that oversees enforcement of the FEPA in federal hiring disputes), has reversed that policy. The sponsors of the bill above now seek to make explicit what should have been implicit already. And naturally, this group along with the predictable list of other organizations affiliated with Focus on the Family, the American Family Association (another side note: it annoys the hell out of me that they have so thoroughly coopted the word “family” in service of anti-gay policies – as though gay people didn’t have families) and other such organizations are quite opposed to anything that might give security to homosexuals. But their reasoning is quite interesting.
Look at the argument above. The right not to be fired from your job if you’re gay is a “specialized” right because it’s “based solely on their behavior”. In other words, they choose to be gay (false enough on its face) and therefore it’s okay to fire them for that choice despite the fact that it has nothing whatsoever to do with how well they perform their job. But wait a minute…why aren’t they seeking to have religion removed as a basis for prohibiting discrimination? By any reasonable measure, religion is far more a choice than sexual orientation. Religion is also “based solely on behavior” (if they fired those who practiced Judaism, one could simply begin to practice Christianity instead), indeed far more so than sexual orientation. Why aren’t these groups griping about the religious getting “specialized rights” like this? Well, because their reasoning is a sham. It has nothing at all to do with why they oppose protecting gays from discrimination.
They don’t really oppose protecting gays from discrimination because they’re opposed to “specialized rights”, they oppose protecting gays from discrimination because they disapprove of them being gay. And that’s all that really matters. Disingenuous excuses and inconsistent reasoning to prop up their position doesn’t change that one bit. Because family values, as Gore Vidal noted two decades ago, is a codephrase that means “get the fags”.
Update: By the way, you gotta see how this is reported in Human Events in a column by Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute. This is hilarious:
In response, 11 congressmen, including openly homosexual Representatives Barney Frank (D.-Mass.), Jim Kolbe (R.-Ariz.) and Tammy Baldwin (D.-Wis.), have sponsored the Clarification of Federal Employment Protection Act (HR 3128). The chief sponsor is Rep. Henry Waxman (D.-Calif.), who represents West Hollywood, a homosexual enclave in Los Angeles County.
You see, it’s very important that you understand that these three sponsors are gay. And the chief sponsor isn’t gay (though we do think he’s a little light in the loafers, if you catch our drift), but he represents lots of gay people. And rumor has it he even knows a few gays personally. And we all know that gays are bad people, so we don’t have to worry about little things like, oh, disputing the substance of their claims. All we have to do is point out that they’re gay, or they know gay people, and that’s enough to make our faithful Pavlovian readers react with outrage. Because gays are bad. Except, of course, gays like David Dreier or Ed Schrock or Robert Traynham, Rick Santorum’s communications director, who despite being gay works for and supports one of the most anti-gay men in Congress. Those gays are okay. They don’t get all uppity about things like, ya know, equal rights and stuff.