Compromise Can Be the Best Way

A compromise on LGBT nondiscriminination rights and religious liberty rights requires that both sides recognize that the other also has rights, and that sometimes these rights conflict and reasonable and workable compromises must be sought.

I’m more partial toward recognizing the right not to be forced to engage in activities that violate religious conscience in the private sector, and in particular the rights of small business owners not to be forced by the state to engage in expressive activities that violate their beliefs. But it seems like the outcome of this North Carolina case regarding a public official is fair to both sides—the individual magistrate does not have to officiate at the same-sex wedding ceremony as long as someone is on hand to provide these services.

This, by the way, differs from the situation in 2015 involving County Clerk Kim Davis in Kentucky, where she would not allow anyone in her office to issue same-sex marriage certificates, including clerks who had no issues with doing so.

A different compromise was reached in that case: Gov. Matt Bevin issued an executive order that removed the names of all county clerks from marriage licenses issued in Kentucky. I wrote at the time:

Government officials are responsible for following the law of the land, even when doing so is at odds with their own religious beliefs. They are public servants, not private, self-employed service providers.

But it’s for the good if a small, symbolic action can defuse a contentious “culture war” face off and serve civility without diminishing individual rights, and I tend to see that happening here.

Allowing individual magistrates to opt out as long as no couple is denied a prompt marriage takes things a bit further, but if no couple is harmed I don’t see a problem. It’s akin to not making religiously observant employees work on the sabbath.

Delayed for Now

More. LGBTQ activists have been supporting the proposed Equality Act, which would explicitly include LGBT Americans in the Civil Rights Act, providing protection from housing, employment and public-accommodations discrimination under federal law. The Equality Act also includes a provision revoking any protection that religious objectors might enjoy under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In that regard, including sexual orientation and gender identity under Title VII would be preferable to the damage to liberty rights that the Equality Act would impose.

In July I wrote The Civil Rights Act and Sexual-Orientation Discrimination.

Also, from last October, The Rejection of Compromise: Take Two.

Tolerance Is Not a One-Way Street

A word of caution from Andrew Sullivan, an early, forceful advocate of marriage equality and supporter of Barack Obama:

The freedom of any baker to express himself is, in this respect, indistinguishable from that of any gay person to do so — a truth that our current tribalism blinds so many to. I hope, in other words, that the baker prevails — but that the Supreme Court decision doesn’t turn on religious so much as artistic freedom.

More. The response from many on the LGBTQ+ progressive left has been fear-mongering, with little to no empathy for religiously conservative small business owners and often dismissive of religious liberty itself and the right not to be coerced by the state, on pain of losing one’s livelihood (or worse), to engage in expressive activity that violates deeply held religious belief.
Slate: How Clueless Straight White Guys Excuse Religious Homophobia.

What the left keeps getting wrong:

Not Just Off the Shelf

The Wall Street Journal opines:

At issue is whether baker Jack Phillips, who opposes same-sex marriage out of sincere religious beliefs, can be compelled to custom design a cake for a gay nuptial. …

While some on the left liken Mr. Phillips to hotel owners in the Jim Crow era, there’s no evidence of invidious discrimination. Mr. Phillips and others who have denied wedding services to same-sex nuptials have consistently served gays in other contexts. Mr. Phillips said he would sell the gay couple other baked goods—simply not a custom wedding cake.

As the editorial notes, the issue pits the government’s interest in social equality against an individual’s constitutional right to express his beliefs.

Pluralism Was Once a Liberal Virtue

There has been a great deal of misinformation about this case, especially among LGBT advocates and media. No, he did not refuse to wait on gay customers. He refused to create a same-sex wedding cake.

Pluralism, in terms of accepting and allowing people to act on their own beliefs, faith-based or otherwise, has been replaced by the left’s pseudo “diversity,” which demands lock-step adherence to progressive orthodoxy.

Title VII and whether 2+2=5 because it would be good for social justice if it did

An email from GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) declares that:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions just reversed an Obama administration policy that protects transgender people from workplace discrimination. …

The law in question is Title VII, a 1964 civil rights law which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sex. The Obama administration issued policy guidance to clarify that “sex” includes gender identity, which means that if a trans person experiences discrimination, violence, or harassment at work, they could pursue legal recourse. But now Jeff Sessions has erased that protection with a single memo.

The Trump administration is putting LGBTQ people at risk every day — and every day they’re showing us just how far they’ll go to attack this community.

However, as I posted on Facebook:

The above Washington Times article reports that:

“The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided,” said DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley. “Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today’s action.”

Mr. Sessions’ memo goes on to say that it should not “be construed to condone mistreatment on the basis or gender identity, or to express a policy view on whether Congress should amend Title VII or provide different or additional protection.”

“The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals,” he wrote.

Liberal-leaning and conservative-leaning appellate courts have split on how elastic interpretations of Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination can be, and whether the law can be stretched to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Those favoring a more creative approach to interpreting the language of the law will understandably oppose the Trump administration’s position. But characterizing it as a “blatant attack on transgender people,” as GLAAD does, is just more partisan hackery.