Double Standards All Round

Gay fashion guru Carson Kressley, formerly of TV’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” was asked by Washington, D.C.’s Metro Weekly about designers who have publicly refused to dress the First Lady Melania Trump in protest against her husband. Kressley’s response:

“Designers are artists and many of them have very strong political views. That’s the beauty of our country. If you don’t want to work with somebody, you don’t have to. I think it’s well within their rights to say no. I don’t think it’s disrespectful. It’s just a personal choice.”

Hmmm. If only LGBT progressives would recognize that same right for photographers, bakers and other creative types.

The New York Post reports that Guy wearing Trump hat sues bar for refusing to serve him. I don’t think the bar did the right thing as a matter of fairness and civility, but I also think suing for service is a bad idea.

The Post further reports that:

A manager said he spoke to the bar owner, and was told, “Anyone who supports Trump or believes what you believe is not welcome here. And you need to leave right now because we won’t serve you!,” according to the suit.

I’d argue this is murkier than cases where business owners are operating out of religious belief and not political pique, but I still think the Trump supporter shouldn’t go running to the state to punish the bar owner.

Yet how many on the left who think the bar did the right thing, or at least had the right to do so, also believe that government should force caterers and wedding planners to provide their services to same-sex weddings?

Competing Headlines

Take One

Anti-LGBT adoption bill sent to South Dakota governor. (State law allows adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.)

Liberals Call SD Religious Freedom Adoption Law ‘Anti-LGBT’
. (State law allows religious nonprofits to follow principles of their faith.)

Honorable Mention:

LGBTQ Advocates Fear ‘Religious Freedom’ Bills Moving Forward in States. (Count on NPR online to use scare quotes around a pivotal constitutional right that’s out of favor on the left.)

Take Two

Amid Dramatic Cuts, HIV/AIDS Funding Spared in New Trump Budget. (Despite our best efforts, we really couldn’t spin this as anti-LGBT; a source does say “What’s unknown is how this might affect a whole range of other programs that provide HIV support.”)

GOP health plan’s ‘devastating’ impact on those with HIV. (One way or another, Trump will imperil the HIV-positive.)

Honorable Mention:

Trump budget slashes State Department, USAID funding. (One of the revolving marquee headlines this weekend at Washington Blade online, apparently for no reason other than AID at first glances looks like AIDS.)

Court: Title VII Prohibits Discrimination Against Transgender People, Not Gays and Lesbians

Earlier this week, AP reported that “in a setback for gay rights advocates hoping for an expansion of workplace discrimination protections,” a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled 2-1 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on a variety of factors including sex, doesn’t protect against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In 2011, the 11th Circuit ruled that discrimination against a transgender employee did amount to unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII because the individual faced discrimination based on her behavior not conforming to gender stereotypes. In its new ruling, the court clarified that discrimination against an individual who is undergoing a gender transition is based on behavior while discrimination against an employer for being gay or lesbian is based on “status.”

The 11th Circuit ruling follows a decision in which a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit in Chicago last July upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a similar case trying to extend Title VII to include sexual orientation.

LGBT rights groups had hoped these rulings would go their way and “would mark a significant step forward for gay rights,” the AP reported. And indeed, if the courts had extended Title VII to include sexual orientation it would have avoided the need to pass federal legislation like the overly broad Equality Act, which seeks to amend Title VII to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity while decreeing that existing Title VII exemptions based on religious belief may not be used as a defense in suits charging anti-LGBT discrimination.

“Sex discrimination” under Title VII was clearly meant to apply to discrimination based on physical sex, so it seems to makes some sense that it could apply to transgender men and women facing discrimination but not to gay men and lesbians. There is only so far you can stretch an existing statute to try to make it do something it was never meant to do (although that doesn’t stop progressives from trying). However, it does mean that transgender people have far more legal protections under federal law than do gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

We were told we couldn’t pass the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with only sexual orientation (which had the votes in Congress) and not gender identity (which did not), and so ENDA fell by the wayside. The Equality Act is a fundraising ploy that has no chance of passing in a Republican congress, and would face opposition from some African-American legislators who don’t want to meddle with the Civil Rights Act if the Democrats again take power.

But I don’t see transgender activists saying they won’t accept their court-provided protections under Title VII because they also don’t extend to LGB folks.

More. From the comments, “Will” writes:

Seems to me if you face discrimination because you’re a man who has sex with men (or desires to), and being sexual with a man is something that is stereotypically female behavior, then why wouldn’t that be discrimination against a gay man for “behavior not conforming to gender stereotypes” as prohibited under Title VII?


Once the courts expanded Title VII to include “gender nonstereotypical behavior”—which was quite a stretch of the statute, and arguably without foundation—I don’t know how they can find that Title VII protections cover trans people but not gays/lesbians.

On reflection, those do seem like good points. Having stretched Title VII so far beyond its original intent, to then say it can be stretched no further seems arbitrary.

March On?

LGBT activists have called for another National Pride March in Washington, D.C., this time to protest all things Trump. But alas, so far it “is following the same racially problematic script as the Women’s March” to protest all things Trump, writes Anika Simpson, an associate professor at Morgan State University, as well as coordinator of MSU’s Women’s and Gender Studies program and co-chair of the National Black Justice Coalition’s HBCU LGBTQ-Equality Initiative Advisory Council.

“Unfortunately, it’s a familiar script: white organizers plan an event on behalf of an entire community and then invite input from people of color after key decisions have been made,” said Simpson, in a Washington Blade column titled Pride march must include people of color in key roles.

“The damage of this marginalization [to the Women’s March] was not overcome when the dynamic trio of feminists of color joined as National Co-Chairs,” opines she who will not be placated by efforts too little, too late. “As a queer black feminist displaced within mainstream feminist and LGBTQIA movements, I will lend my suggestions to the chorus of QPOC advocating for equity within the proposed march.”

(LGBTQIA is lesbian gay bisexual transgender queer intersex and asexual, although it’s not spelled out by Simpson, as anyone who doesn’t know should apparently check their privilege; QPOC is queer people of color.)

Simpson concludes along these lines:

Decentering whiteness is the first step toward rectifying our alienation. Our shared belonging within the LGBTQIA community is not a singularly unifying factor. We are not immune from the racism and xenophobia that runs rampant in this country. From our vantage point, the mainstream queer community offers no safe haven to the racially marginalized. This is a pivotal moment for non-QPOC to check their white privilege and commence the hard work of addressing their positionality within white supremacy.

But, as might have been suspected:

One cannot guarantee that this necessary shift will compel QPOC en masse to participate in the march. Centuries of institutional racism cannot be redressed in a few months of planning, or even by a few hours of hand holding on the National Mall.

Here are my thoughts from a January 2000 post that looked at similar planning battles over the then-upcoming 2000 Millennial March on Washington (MMOW), in a piece I titled An Uninspiring March on Washington:

…in spring 1998, the Ad Hoc Committee for An Open Process was formed. The network of anti-MMOW grassroots activists charged that the organizers of the march were top-down authoritarians who blithely ignored the supposedly “democratic” organizing principles that had buttressed previous gay marches in the nation’s capital. “The way the Millennium March was conceived, articulated, promoted and put out there has really been an insult and a slap in the face to our own history as an l/g/b/t movement,” said Leslie Cagan, a long-time New York City-based lesbian activist and member of the Ad Hoc Committee. Of course, others pointed out that what the Committee seemed angriest about was that its cadre of long-time activists, many on the political far left, hadn’t been in control of the process this time round.

That’s not to say that those activists who did wind up in control of the board of directors for the MMOW have done any kind of a rational job. In fact, they quickly caved into the radical critics and jettisoned the Faith and Family theme. And, as with previous marches, they have taken the admirable goal of racial diversity to an extreme, resorting to race- and gender-based quotas that border on the absurd—a requirement that their governing board be at least 50 percent people of color, regardless of who actually shows up willing to do the work. Is it churlish to note that all non-white minorities together are well under half the U.S. population (which is still 73 percent non-Hispanic white)?

I continued:

Before concluding, let’s look back at the previous March on Washington for gay rights in 1993, which the Ad Hoc Committee has been holding up as a model of democratic organization. In fact, march organizers had mandated 50-percent minority quotas [and gender equity] on state organizing committees. Again, if anything less than representation reflecting actual demographics constitutes discrimination (as affirmative action advocates maintain), then gay white men were discriminated against by their own rights march.

Moreover, the ’93 event had come under fire for extraordinary poor execution: Due to a complicated march route thousands spent the day waiting to step off the green, and many had still not done so at the end of the day as the rally on the Mall across town was ending. Writing in the liberal “New Republic” magazine, Jacob Weisberg noted that the ’93 march “was appallingly organized, failed to coordinate even a single time for a photo-op on the Mall and had as its most memorable quote a lesbian comedian’s remark that Hillary Clinton was ‘at last a first lady I could fuck.'”

The PC quotient at the ’93 event, broadcast live on C-SPAN, was taken to bizarre extremes. The march platform made opposition to welfare reform one of its key planks. Not one speaker who wasn’t squarely on the gay left was allowed to address the rally, and the scarcity of gay white male speakers at the all-day event (you could count them on one hand, literally) didn’t go unnoticed by the crowd.

In the world of progressive LGBT activism, nothing ever changes.

The Transgender Order Deserves Its Fate

The rollback of the Obama’ administration’s nationwide decree that public school bathrooms and locker rooms must be available to students based on their gender identity has, predictably, caused an uproar among LGBT and other progressives (“a blind and cruel attack on young children,” said the Human Rights Campaign’s Chad Griffin).

But the over-reaching, over-bearing, probably unlawful order, blocked by a court from taking effect in part because it was issued without going through the standard proposal and public comment process for federal regulation—which would have highlighted its dubious interpretation of Title IX—was always about igniting the base and stoking culture-war polarization, to the hoped-for electoral advantage of the Democrats versus the hateful bigots (i.e., Republicans).

The Cato Institute’s David Boaz writes:

Devolving power from Washington to states and local communities can also help to ease conflicts ranging from gun rights and school locker rooms to environmental protection. While Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may have stated the problem awkwardly, it’s true that the people of Manhattan and Montana have different attitudes and experiences regarding guns. Maybe they should be able to set different rules. In 2016 the Department of Justice and the Department of Education issued “guidance” to the 13,500 school districts across the United States on how they should manage access to locker rooms and bathrooms in 99,000 public schools. Instead of a rule issued by faceless bureaucrats in Washington, why not let the people of the 50 states and thousands of communities talk through that issue and come to their own evolving answers?

DeVos herself released a statement that said, in part:

This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find – and in many cases have found – solutions that protect all students. …

I consider protecting all students, including LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.

As others have pointed out, while the left likes to focus on bathrooms, where people don’t publicly undress, the real issue is locker rooms, where nudity is part of the terrain. An anatomical male body on a transwomen who hasn’t surgically transitioned (or, more to the point, a transgirl in a public school girls locker room), and transmen/transboys in the opposite situation, is the issue. Offering the accommodations of a gender-neutral individual restroom, or changing in a private space (and, if necessary, a private shower) is not equivalent to the racial bigotry implied by the phrase “separate but equal.” In these circumstances, it’s often the reasonable option.

And sorry, but declaring that we should all—teenagers included—”get over” our unease with anatomically discordant nudity in public facilities (because, bigotry) is not a winning argument. As instapundit Glenn Reynolds likes to say, “If you want more Trump, this is how you get more Trump.”

Breaking Ranks

D.C.’s MetroWeekly interviews Anthony “Rek” LeCounte, a young, black, gay Republican. Excerpt:

“There’s a saying in politics that ‘personnel is policy,’” he says. “A lot of these nonpartisan [LGBT rights] groups are staffed by aggressively left-wing progressive folks who, even if their organization say, ‘We believe X, Y, and Z,’ have their own biases which then affect their decisions. If an LGBT candidate is pro-life, or supports gun rights, or holds a bunch of other conservative positions that run deeply counter to what the progressive movement is doing, a lot of these groups don’t want to be associated with those kind of candidates. So they’ll either endorse against or they’ll just pretend the candidate doesn’t exist.”


Perfect Enemies, Redux

A New York Times article asks Are Liberals Helping Trump? by declaring, “Agree with us 100% or you are morally bankrupt.”

Well, yes.

Times national correspondent Sabrina Tavernise writes:

Liberals may feel energized by a surge in political activism, and a unified stance against a president they see as irresponsible and even dangerous. But that momentum is provoking an equal and opposite reaction on the right. In recent interviews, conservative voters said they felt assaulted by what they said was a kind of moral Bolshevism — the belief that the liberal vision for the country was the only right one. Disagreeing meant being publicly shamed. …

Mrs. O’Connell is a registered Democrat. She voted for Bill Clinton twice. But she has drifted away from the party over what she said was a move from its middle-class economic roots toward identity politics. …

“The Democratic Party has changed so much that I don’t even recognize it anymore,” she said. “These people are destroying our democracy. They are scarier to me than these Islamic terrorists. I feel absolutely disgusted with them and their antics. It strengthens people’s resolve in wanting to support President Trump. It really does.”

I believe “identity politics” should not be construed here to mean support for equal rights for minorities, as progressives would claim, but rather what they have delivered in practice, which Daphne Patai characterized as the proliferation of oppressed identities so that “the game is openly played in hiring and even in the exercise of free speech—who is entitled to teach, to speak, to pose challenges, and who had better shut up if lacking the requisite identity.”

Along similar lines, The student Left’s culture of intolerance is creating a new generation of conservatives. But I’d quibble with the author, Charlie Peters, and suggest that it’s not so much that the student left has abandoned support for free speech as that they never really favored it to begin with, at least for their ideological opponents. The 1960’s campus Free Speech Movement was about allowing leftwing organizing. Once the left became dominant in university administrations and hegemonic on faculties, there was no longer any need for the ruse.

Persecuting Baronelle Stutzman Shows Lack of Decency

Washington state’s highest court ruled that Barronelle Stutzman discriminated against longtime customers Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed when she refused to do the flowers for their 2013 wedding because of her religious opposition to participating in a same-sex marriage. Instead, Stutzman suggested several other florists in the area who would help them.

Her lawyers will attempt to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where A Colorado case involving a baker who would not make a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding is pending.

“I knew Rob was gay for all those years, and it made no difference to me,” Ms. Stutzman said. “I chose not to participate in one event, and that’s what this is all about. If Rob walked into my shop tomorrow, I’d wait on him for another 10 years.”

Ingersoll and Freed should have respected her right to decline and found another Seattle-area florist. That would have been the decent thing to do. Decency, however, is an increasingly rare commodity.

LGBT Activists Take Aim at Religious Liberty

Rights are for me, but not for thee, says just about the entirety of LGBT activists groups.

Attacking religious liberty rights will be the singular issue of the LGBT left (which is to say, the LGBT political movement) going forward. The bogus “license to discriminate” meme will be ubiquitous.

As I’ve said before, balancing competing rights—civil rights (public accommodations nondiscrimination) and religious liberty (the right not to be forced by the state, on threat of punishment, to take action that violates religious convictions)—is what America should be about.

Religious exemptions have a traditional and purposeful place in our civil rights laws, but that’s now under attack. Shameful and sad.

More. Proving my point: Swift LGBT opposition to Gorsuch over ‘religious freedom’ rulings:

Gorsuch also sided with “religious freedom” arguments over the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers provide contraception coverage in the 10th Circuit ruling in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell.

Rachel Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, declared opposition to the nominee based on Gorsuch’s “religious freedom” rulings, which she said marks the first time her organization opposed a Supreme Court nominee without any confirmation hearing.

Lambda Legal is going to show those nuns who’s boss.

The Gorsuch Nomination

Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court pick, probably would not have joined the ruling in favor of marriage equality, although he is a former clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the Obergefell decision.

In 2005, LGBTQ Nation reports, Gorsuch wrote an article for National Review in which he argued that liberals are using the courts too much to advance their agenda, and he cited same-sex marriage:

American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education… .

…too much reliance on constitutional litigation is also bad for the Left itself. The Left’s alliance with trial lawyers and its dependence on constitutional litigation to achieve its social goals risks political atrophy. Liberals may win a victory on gay marriage when preaching to the choir before like-minded judges in Massachusetts. But in failing to reach out and persuade the public generally, they invite exactly the sort of backlash we saw in November when gay marriage was rejected in all eleven states where it was on the ballot.

Marriage equality was eventually achieve through the courts, and—unlike the abortion-ruling aftermath—without an escalation of the initial backlash the Gorsuch noted. But his arguments aren’t those of the fire-breathing LGBT-rights opponent of progressive fear-mongering.

Gorsuch does support religious liberty rights, which will drive the LGBT left berserk. He ruled against the government in a case involving the Obamacare mandate that employer health plans provide no-cost contraceptive coverage to female workers, including drugs some consider to be abortifacients. As LGBTQ Nation notes:

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the corporation argued that its religious beliefs were being violated by the ACA. Gorsuch sided with Hobby Lobby, holding that a for-profit business could have religious beliefs, with which the Supreme Court later agreed.

I agreed, too.

Gorsuch is a conservative, but he’s not a social conservative activist. I don’t expect that liberal media will pay much attention to the distinction.

More. An email just received from Zeke Stokes at GLAAD:

Gorsuch’s record on the federal bench means his appointment to the court could put LGBTQ people at risk, from workplace protections to even marriage equality. Coming on the heels of rumors of a sweeping Trump executive order attacking the LGBTQ community, this appointment could spell danger for LGBTQ people, women, people of color, immigrants, and other marginalized communities — many of whom are already targets of Trump’s actions.

A follow-up from GLAAD explains:

We just got some devastating news. According to breaking media reports, a leaked copy of a draft executive order reveals plans by the Trump Administration to allow for widespread discrimination against LGBTQ people across the country– much like the law Vice President Mike Pence signed as governor of Indiana.

Attacking religious liberty rights will be the singular issue of the LGBT left (which is to say, the LGBT political movement) going forward.