In writing my representative to endorse a bill that would end discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace, he replied that such a law would violate freedom of religion by forcing Christians to hire people who do not share their religious beliefs and practices:

All religious groups in America have a constitutional right to freely exercise their religion that includes the right to hire employees who share the faith and adhere to the tenets that the religion values. Not only is it possible that ENDA could force religious groups to hire employees who don't share their faith, but some have expressly stated their eagerness to use ENDA law for that very reason.

What are your thoughts on this idea?

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Paul, I believe that I understand your points, and I hear what you are trying to say. You seem like a decent person who wants to be strong, independent, responsible, and do things on your own, and your own way as well. It strikes me that you are not likely to discriminate against others and would not deliberately cause problems for someone else. Is that a fairly accurate assessment?

If so, that is great. But not everyone is that way. Some people lack your intelligence, while others lack your decency.

Black and white? Check out this wording:In writing my representative to endorse a bill that would end discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace...

Perhaps that would have been better worded if James had written “…a bill that would end codified discrimination against LGBT…” Of course, we both know that laws don’t stop anything. It is a crime to steal, sell drugs, molest children, etc, but people do those things anyhow. The laws give us a means to punish people for their wrongdoings, but they rarely act as a deterent.

A bill that would end discrimination? Ambitious but no single bill would/could do that…. Just because government says so don't make it right and certainly is no guarantee that it will work.

Agreed, as stated above.

Why are the rights of the business owner subject to infringement and the rights of the LGBT superior?

IMO, the rights of an entrepreneur are not being infringed upon in regards to his ability to run his business and make a profit. And I don’t see LGBT rights as being superior, per se. To me, the laws that protect people based on race, disability, orientation, etc, are correct laws because they make society more equitable. They protect people from unreasonable and ill-conceived prejudices.

People have to work. If they can’t find a job then they can’t support themselves and can’t be a productive member of society.

Also, business owners do not work in a vacuum. Goods and services are transported to and from them on public roads, for example. They are part of a system – a system that is both private and public. They are not self-contained entities with absolute control over their entire world. None of us do.

Are not the rights of the ignorant considered in your view of social justice?

Well, they certainly have the right to think what they want, but that doesn’t mean that what they think if valid or useful in any way, shape, or form. Neo-Nazis are full of shit as far as I am concerned. They have a right to meet, and talk trash of other people, and burn crosses and do whatever else they want. But I am not going to stand by and allow their nonsense to become public policy.

Because you personally find them offensive?

Well, that is not reason enough, but it is not about what they think; it is about the consequences of their actions on other people. It’s like this: If you don’t like dogs don’t get one. But don’t get one and let it starve in your back yard because you don’t like ‘em. There is a difference there. Nobody is saying you have to get a dog if you don’t want one. But don’t get one and then make it suffer. That is an entirely different matter. (Maybe this isn’t the best analogy, but I hope you understand my point.)

Tyranny is the government telling you how to run your life.

I agree if it is an absolute form of tyranny. But we have to have rules of engagement. When we have millions of people in the US, each with different worldviews, needs, desire, ambitions, intelligence, capabilities, etc., all moving about and wanting to live their lives, and get things, and do things, etc., society has to have rules of behavior. We must define what we consider acceptable and unacceptable. Slowly but surely we are moving to a point where we don’t find silly prejudices based on nonsense to be an acceptable criteria for running our society. I’m fine with that.

Another ex: It is reasonable and sensible and safe to have speed limits on the roads. We are all sharing it, and there must be rules of behavior. This is just common sense.

Not only that, I promise, forcing employers to hire LGBT folks against their will will only crystallize their own personal petty objections to proportions unimaginable thus far.

I would assume people often thought that about desegregation, but I don’t see that that has come to fruition. Actually, I think desegregation has shown white/privileged people that they have nothing to fear from black/underprivileged people.

I don't agree that not hiring someone for some stupid belief is putting anyone at risk.

What about someone who won’t hire a pregnant woman? Or worse yet, what if a business told a woman she was not allowed to get pregnant as long as she worked for them? Do they have that right? What about her rights to procreate? Whose is more important?

But where's the line? How do you define "affect the lives"?

Well, those are the important questions, aren’t they? That is why we have a congress and a democracy, so that we can work these things out. Where’s the line? is THE question in congress at all times, isn’t it?

Maybe the existence of homosexual people is enough to affect the lives of certain folks. Maybe it could even affect their welfare to know that some people [gasp!] are living in sin against the Word of Him?

Now you’re just being silly.

…forced to believe or behave in ways that those in power demand….I couldn't have said it better myself. That also includes hiring folks that you just don't want to hire.

Making it illegal to fire a gay guy for being gay is not the same thing as making someone like a gay guy for being gay. Again, it is not about thought, it is about consequences. If a man is a comptent, Harvard-educated lawyer, what difference does it make if he is gay, or Hispanic, or a transsexual, if he can execute his duties. I work with lots of people I don’t like, including xtians, but I as long as they do their job I don’t care.

Yes. I should suck it up and take it. I am able enough and I am capable enough to find work elsewhere.

Well, that is your option. But some people want an alternative to that. And I think with good reason. What of the man who is bound to a wheelchair? He may have more medical expenses than you. He may be less able to perform certain tasks. He may have restrictions on his life that you cannot imagine. Should he just suck it up and go find another job because someone didn’t like the fact that he was a paraplegic? I mean, it’s one thing if he can’t do the job either through disability or incompetence, but it is another thing if he can do the job. He can’t be a firefighter, and that is a reasonable restriction. But he can be a good accountant or programmer or artist or whatever.

I would not want to work for someone that was forced to employ me in the first place.

Well, I’ll agree with that. I don’t want to work somewhere where everyone hates my guts, but not everyone has the same freedoms as that, especially in small towns with fewer opportunities.

Do you see the major flaw in this bill yet? Forcing people to hire people that they do not want to hire?

No, I don’t. People once thought that desegregation would be the downfall of the US. It wasn’t. People once thought gay marriage would mean the end of marriage for straight people. It wasn’t. Ending codified discrimination in the workplace will benefit society, not harm it.

Whew! We really need to make our comments shorter. I’m pooped.
It's demonstrably true, and the studies I linked (among any other study you wish to find) prove that racism is still in effect.

You obviously didn't understand what I said. I thought "Well, I don't want to embarrass this person by calling out their pretty flagrant reading comprehension flaws" but then you keep saying the tea bagging thing and that ticks me off ever so slightly. So there. Re-read that.

What? This has nothing to do with qualifications. We are discussing prejudice, and the idea that in certain areas, members of minority groups would have difficulty finding work is not prejudicial, because it makes no statement about their qualifications, which is not the criterion a prejudiced manager or owner would use to disqualify an applicant. It isn't racist to complain about racism.

No, I just think that saying that entire groups of people have certain professions closed off to them because of their race is in fact... Shockingly... Racist. I don't believe that at all. Sure racism exists. I got it, tracking. But the saying that "You there, of such and such race, are forbidden to work in this field" is pretty durned racist unless I seriously misunderstood what you are trying to say. This issue has so many facets and variables and it's not nearly as black and white as you paint it.

Consider the massive bureaucracy a bill like this would be required to maintain. Consider the blowback and unintended consequences. What about gay folks that feel they were turned down a job in the past because of their own private lives? Would they then get that job? How would they go about proving that the employer had "homophobic" tendencies? This bill has so many problems from the get go.

It is neither tyranny nor thoughtcrime to tell a shop owner "be as racist as you want, but if you turn out a qualified individual for the color of his or her skin, we will fine you."

Yes it is. The government telling you how to run your business is exactly that. I just feel that an employer should be able to hire and fire at his/her whim without the government or any agency telling them who and how to go about it.

So long as it is not the government. I would love to see the Military get rid of the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy immediately and accept homosexual service members just like they accept everyone else. But we are talking about private business, not the government who's last a bottom line should be "all men are created equal".

I am an adult and I expect those that wish to be adults expect to be treated like adults. Not children that go crying to Mommy (the government) when things don't just go their way.

I am a minority. I believe myself to be a capable, intelligent, creative and hard working person. I am not so fixated on my race to believe that I am entitled to any special treatment because of something completely out of my control and no self respecting minority, racial or sexual or otherwise, should. I fully 100% support the LGBT movement but bills such as these I see as a step backwards and a handicapping everything that the LGBT community has worked so hard for and continues to work hard for.

At the same time, while I am all for the rights of the LGBT community I am also for the rights of the ignorant. Maybe even more so simply because I find them so repulsive and abhorrent.

In any case, even if every argument I have is wrong, the fact that the wording is so simplistic and the details are not ironed out should be enough for any half minded elected representative to throw it out. Much like our Patriot Act.
the first federal position for a transgender person was filled today
so I hear on democracynow.org

progress is good
just judge by the talents and smarts
then you'll see; honor, honesty and agility is important too
long gone for 8+ years now
I wish everyone would admit the USA has been under soft-anarchy for some for 8 years (and residual)

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