Progressive Inquisitors

In another case, not quite as clear cut but raising similar issues: Should opposition to marriage equality and a belief that Obama’s bathroom order was an unnecessary overreach of authority disqualify a candidate from leading NASA?

And another:

As someone commented on another forum, “these people [the hold the views that Obama and Clinton held until 4-5 years ago, and that was Michigan law until Obergefell. And, “could a city council that supports the Second Amendment exclude a farmer who bans guns on his farm?”

Scott Shackford blogged about this in June, when East Lansing denied the owners of County Mills Farms access to the farmer’s market. He noted that (1) the farm itself is not within city limits, (2) state law does not cover discrimination on basis of sexual orientation, (3) the farm itself is not violating any laws by refusing to host same-sex marriage, (4) there is no evidence that when they’re at the farmer’s market, they’re violating the city’s antidiscrimination laws in any way.

The Case for Not Compelling Creative Expression

The libertarian Cato Institute filed influential amicus briefs in support of overturning sodomy laws (in Lawrence, cited by Justice Kennedy in his opinion) and in favor of marriage equality (in Obergefell). In keeping with a principled commitment to individual rights and against unnecessary government coercion, Cato has now filed an amicus in favor of a baker who chose not to create a same-sex wedding cake.

The Perils of Identity Politics

I don’t agree with all of Mark Lilla’s positions—he is, after all, an abortion-rights liberal—but his critique of the Democratic party’s fatal rejection of unifying themes in favor of identity politics is spot on.

As Lilla told the New Yorker:

…when we go out on the stump, it makes no sense to call out to various groups, as Hillary Clinton did, and inevitably leave people out. She would list the groups that liberal Democrats care about today: African-Americans, gays and lesbians, women. One out of every four Americans is evangelical. Thirty-seven percent of Americans live in the South. Seventeen percent, as many as there are, of African-Americans in this country live in rural areas. There are different ways in which people think of themselves, right? And those people did not feel called out to. …

When some of the campus craziness happens, it reveals something that is there in the university that doesn’t always take the craziest form. And the way in which we have ended up educating, and in my view miseducating, the liberal élite in this country for political action.

What I see, essentially, is that, to the extent that [college students] are political, their political interest is circumscribed by either how they see their own identity or what they think identity issues are. I’m struck by the lack of interest in military affairs, class structure, economics that’s not economics in order to get into business school. There’s a lack of interest in American religion. All of these subjects that might help you understand the country in a richer way. They’re very much drawn to classes that are about themselves….

And so we end up producing liberal élites who are clueless about the rest of the country, and clueless about all sorts of other themes, especially class. … We end up talking to ourselves and training young people in this limited range of issues that tend to be self-referential, so that when they go out there, and are ready to engage, they’re incapable of talking in large themes.

Judging from many of the negative comments Lilla’s interview received from the left, it looks like many base Democrats are intent on keeping their party limited to wealthy liberals plus minorities, overwhelmingly on the Northeast and West coasts plus Chicago. From the New Yorker comments to their Facebook posts of the interview (it was posted more than once), for example:

White supremacy, not just for the right anymore but also the left!

Giving in to racism isn’t the answer.

Lilla seems to be saying that liberals need to accept people who will not accept them in return.

Lilla’s working definition of “narcissism” is when folks don’t behave as though straight white men are inherently more important than everyone else.

Why is it always the same looking white professor guy who is critiquing identity politics?

Utter illogic. Lilla suggests that liberals’ willingness to embrace diversity and honor difference is an example of snobbery–when it is, in fact, literally the opposite.

Of course, in most of these instances, Lilla said no such thing.

Taxpayer Funding, Adoption and the Kids

The Washington Blade reports:

In Texas, transgender rights supporters thwarted an attempt by state leaders to enact legislation that would have barred transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity. However, Texas—along with Alabama and South Dakota—enacted laws allowing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny placements in homes based on religious objections, which could result in discrimination against LGBT families.

State transgender bathroom bans are an overreach of state power, imposing state authority into an area where no discernable problem seems to exists. Libertarian-minded people should oppose that sort of intrusion.

The second issue isn’t so clear cut, however. State funding of religiously affiliated social service organizations is now pervasive, placing private religious agencies in a bind. Despite the left’s spin, allowing religious agencies to operate according to their faith principles, even if they receive some state funding, is an arguable point. As Scott Shackford wrote at Reason two years ago (quoting Walter Olson, an IGF cofounder):

Much as with the controversies over bakers and florists, being denied service by one agency does not actually impact a gay couple’s ability to find and adopt children at all. But eliminating Catholic Charities from the pool reduces the number of people able to help place these children. It’s the children who are punished by the politicization of adoption, not Catholic Charities.

This is especially important when dealing with older children or children with special medical needs. … Allowing both sides (and others as well) to play their role as they see fit benefits all children in the system.

As for the concern that some adoption agencies take taxpayer money and then discriminate, Olson points out that it’s much more expensive to the taxpayers to leave children to be raised by the state, not to mention terribly cruel. “If you don’t care about the kids or the families, at least care about the taxpayers,” Olson says. But you should probably care about the kids, too.

The Blade reports that the two Texas legislative developments were a “mixed bag.” Others who are more liberty focused might see it as a wini-win.

Mission Creep

Walter Olson notes that “Climate change [is] listed as an LGBTQ issue, because in coalition politics every issue is every other issue.”

A piece from earlier this year at Huffington Post makes similar claims.

Passing legislation to require employers to provide paid family leave is also an LGBT issue, according to a Washington Blade opinion column.

Every progressive issue is now an LGBT issue, probably because the gay civil rights agenda has largely been achieved in the U.S. (leaving only transgender issues and exacting punishment on conservative Christian small businesses), and activists always need a cause.

The Civil Rights Act and Sexual-Orientation Discrimination

The Supreme Court will ultimately make this call since there is a split among the appellate courts. But given that until very recently the view that sex discrimination should be interpreted as including sexual-orientation discrimination was, at the very least, viewed as novel makes the assertion by activists that this is yet another “anti-gay” move by the administration (rather than an example of conservative interpretation of the statute’s language) seem a stretch.

If it were so obvious that the Civil Rights Act’s ban on sex-based discrimination extends to sexual-orientation discrimination, why propose The Equality Act (to amend the Civil Rights Act and add sexual orientation) before the matter was decided by the Supreme Court? (Well, perhaps because The Equality Act also guts the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, I suppose.)

Transgender Service Members vs. Trump

It’s an unfortunate move by Trump. I think there are legitimate differences between sexual orientation-based discrimination and transgender discrimination when the issue is sharing intimate space (barracks, locker rooms) with those who are still—and may plan to remain—physically one sex while living as the other. But blanket prohibitions aren’t the way to handle these issues.

That said, the organized LGBT movement declared a blistering war against Trump from day one, even though on sexual orientation he was the most supportive GOP presidential nominee ever. What if they had worked to persuade him instead of unleashing their unceasing torrent of hate? We may never know.

More. Yes, the candidate who said this during his convention speech accepting the GOP nomination was reachable:

As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.” [applause] “I must say as a Republican it is so nice to hear you cheering. Thank you.”

But with the LGBT activist community and LGBT media implacably opposed to him, it’s not so surprising that he would instead seek to curry favor with social conservatives.

Effective political advocates lobby both parties and hire lobbyist from both parties to do so. But the Human Rights Campaign and virtually all other LGBT groups (except the explicitly party-affiliated Log Cabin Republicans), although their mission statements aren’t officially partisan, long ago decided to be partisan Democrats first.

Another view: Trump’s military transgender ban is unfair but correct.

I think it would have been wise if all sides could make a distinction between fully transitioned, post-op transgender men and woman, who should be legally treated as members of the sex to which they’ve transitioned, and transgender people who are in the process of transitioning or (as noted above) have decided not to physically transition but to present themselves as the other sex. I could see the military making this distinction by accepting the former but not the latter.

Changing Times

Related, this study concludes that “Consequently, same-sex marriage and similar reforms come at no “welfare” cost to society at large—if anything, the opposite appears to hold. We further build on previous research showing positive effects of economic freedom on happiness and on tolerance towards gay people and interact our rights measure with economic freedom.”

Yes, there are pockets of “resistance,” but that’s always true with social advancements. The Texas decision won’t survive appeal to the federal courts.

Sometimes, of course, we’re our own worst enemy: