Thursday, October 14, 2010

Don’t Be a Fag.

Via HitCoffee, the LDS statement on Salt Lake City’s impending decision to give protected status to homosexuals:

Like most of America, our community in Salt Lake City is comprised of citizens of different faiths and values, different races and cultures, different political views and divergent demographics.

Uh oh.

Across America and around the world, diverse communities such as ours are wrestling with complex social and moral questions. People often feel strongly about such issues. Sometimes they feel so strongly that the ways in which they relate to one another seem to strain the fabric of our society, especially where the interests of one group seem to collide with the interests of another.The issues before you tonight are the right of people to have a roof over their heads and the right to work without being discriminated against. But, importantly, the ordinances also attempt to balance vital issues of religious freedom.  In essence, the Church agrees with the approach which Mayor Becker is taking on this matter.

In drafting these ordinances, the city has granted common-sense rights that should be available to everyone, while safeguarding the crucial rights of religious organizations, for example, in their hiring of people whose lives are in harmony with their tenets, or when providing housing for their university students and others that preserve religious requirements.

Right.  After all, giving protected status to, say, blacks encouraged them to be on their best behavior.

Except . . . oops, it didn’t.  The ink was barely dry on the 1964 Civil Rights Act before the image of peaceful protestors in their Sunday best was shed in favor of  running amok.

This should have been expected.  Before the Civil Rights movement, minorities gained acceptance by assimilating to majority social norms, not by expecting the majority to provide them special accommodations.  I would argue that homosexuals have benefitted from this assimilation; indeed, from what I understand, gay men have an overall positive reputation, “gay pride” marches notwithstanding.  They are regarded as conscientious tenants, for instance, and have in fact secured an above-average economic status for themselves.

But no straight man wants to be around a fag.

Unfortunately, anti-discrimination laws clear out this middle ground.  Although I can’t find the exact text of the ordinance before the Salt Lake City governing body, I infer from the description that it prohibits discrimination against gays but has some kind of religious exemption.  I’m guessing that any lawyer would advise his clients that if they want to avail themselves of this exemption, they must at a minimum publish the policy in advance.  A lawyer would probably advise against saying to a potential employee or tenant, we’ll be happy to take you on irrespective of your sexual preference, but:  don’t be a fag, i.e. don’t make your dysfunctional sexuality an issue for those around you.

The homosexual lobby is very coy about defining what constitutes the essence of “gayness”.  Sometimes they speak of their condition as an orientation or predisposition; at other times they dismiss the argument that prohibitions on sodomy and same-sex marriage apply to everyone equally.  But operationally, it’s apparent to me that gayness is about behavior; ergo, the protection of gayness in the law makes attempts at regulating behavior at best suspect and at worst flatly forbidden.  The incentives with respect to assimilation are thus inverted:  the more you act like a fag, the greater the protection you enjoy.

Nothing good will come of this, and its disappointing that the LDS hasn’t the wit to see that, religious exemptions to contrary, such ordinances undermine the very ground from which they hope to defend Biblical moral standards on sex and family.

11 comments:

Professor Hale said...

I think that the Mormons have another dog in this fight that they haven't taken out of the cage yet. Polygamy.

Once traditional marriage and such relationships are redefined to include homosexuals, then litterally anything goes. This is the predictable and observable slippery slope. We can already see the break in this curve.

cephalicfurrow said...

Do Mormons really want a return of polygamy? I understand that a few splinter groups do practice it but mainstream Mormons seem quite happy with stable monogamy.

trumwill said...

Ceph is right. There is absolutely no push within the mainsteam LDS church for a return to polygamy. One of the things that surprised me when I moved out to the Mormon West was the vehemence with which they opposed the practice in modern-day (they defend their history as one of God-condoned necessity).

From the outside looking in, it's pretty obvious they banned the practice so that Utah could become a state. But as far as they are concerned, God determined that it was no longer the right thing to do.

It's possible that the church leadership is secretly salivating at the prospect of returning to polygamy, but as it stands now if you are a Mormon and you associate with a group that advocates polygamy, you will get excommunicated.

trumwill said...

obviously undesirable personalities of other sorts. Few landlords do this, though, because few landlords care if their tenants are obnoxious because they don't live with them. Roommates do this all the time, though.

From an employer's standpoint, the weeding out gets even easier because there's (almost) always an interview process.

From a legal standpoint, it's much harder to prove discrimination at the beginning of the process than the end. The only real exception here is if it's a rather large company and they have a history of never hiring this demographic or that. This is truly one of the weaknesses of employment civil rights law as a whole and why they will largely be ineffectual.

What this law does do, however, is prevent an employer, upon finding out an employee is gay months or years after hiring them, prevent them from turning around and firing them on that basis. It's possible that the gay employee in question suddenly became a "fag" but more likely that he was acting the same as he acted all along, the boss just saw him holding hands with another man or kissing him goodbye.

Incidentally, the above situation happened at a former employer of mine. A man who was gainfully employed for years was suddenly terminated when his orientation was exposed. This, to me, is unacceptable (though others will disagree).

There is a natural tension, in my mind, between allowing the freedom of association (I can hire/fire who I want) and anti-discrimination. I recognize for you, most or all of the eggs are going to be in that first basket. But I don't really view this as primarily enabling gays to act gayer.

trumwill said...

{cntd}

Of course, some of this depends on what you mean. I am interpreting what you're saying to mean "rather obnoxious personalities". If you're simply referring to them doing the same things that straights do except that it makes you queasy when they do it (hold hands, kiss each other goodbye, etc) then there is even less common ground between us.

My main take is that they should be held to the same standards as we are, allowed to do the same things, and disallowed the same things. Who knows, the end result could be putting the kibosh on straight-party PDAs, which you would approve of!

I figure that you are probably concerned that they will be held to a lesser standard because they will always be able to claim discrimination despite doing what straights are allowed to do. This is possible, but I do not generally see it likely. I actually see as being more likely that in the above case (with the gay lawyer fired from my former Mormon employer) they will simply find some other reason to fire them. The only reason my former employer was so open about it was because there were no legal consequences for doing what he/they did. Had he simply, quietly said "I'm sorry, we need to cut the payroll" we would have just shrugged it off (particularly because we didn't know he was gay, but even if we did). Discrimination - particularly on the individual level - is rather hard to prove. Particularly at the outset, but also later on.

trumwill said...

Ugh... this was missing from the top of the first comment:

Regarding the content of the post:

If you're the type of landlord that doesn't interview particular occupants, I think you lose the right to complain about an undesirable personality provided that they're not breaking any specific rules in the lease agreement.

If you're the type of landlord that does interview potential tenants, you can weed them out the same way that you weed out

Φ said...

Trumwill: I'm not trying to articulate an orientation-neutral standard of behavior here, so no, there isn't much common ground. In the workplace, what counts as a "sexual display" can include PDA, humor, "war stories", flirting; it can even include bringing your wife to the Christmas party. My reaction to these displays can be positive or negative and will vary with what we're talking about and the context. But the details of male homosexuality is something that I really, really don't want to think about. This is not a niche hang-up, and I am not in favor of making the majority of us suffer the grossness of a tiny minority in the name of "non-discrimination" or whatever.

As the matter presently stands, I couldn't say with any certainty that I have ever worked with a homosexual. I would like to keep that uncertainty.

Those are my preferences as an employee. Employers have somewhat different priorities, although I assume that in interests of morale they want to create an atmosphere with social norms that are understood and respected.

As a landlord, I appreciate that I'm leasing out what is supposed to be a private space, and I'm not especially concerned with what goes on there so long as its legal and doesn't break anything. But I also lived in these houses myself and know the neighbors, and if they are motivated enough to complain to me, then we've got a problem.

To use an analogy, we had a complaint about a tenant with barky dogs . . . so we told the tenant to do what was necessary to keep the dogs from barking. In this case, problem solved. I was under no obligation to articulate a standard of neighborliness that treated the sound of barking dogs equal to the sound of, say, playing children on the grounds that they were both "noise".

The bottom line is that the only reason homosexual behavior would ever be an issue is because homosexuals themselves don't keep it private.

Φ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Φ said...

What really . . . weird about the LDS statement is they justify (sort of) their support for the ordinance by talking about incidents of harassment of gay students. (I haven't followed the stories, so correct me if my inferences are incorrect.) Three things make this a red herring:

- the harassment is already against the law;

- the harassment had nothing to do with either housing or employment; and

- the context of the harassment -- schools -- is ironically the one place where those in authority have the least latitude in enforcing social norms against aberrant sexuality. Does that justify the methods of peer enforcement at issue? No. But as Chris Rock would say, I understand.

Robert Hagedorn said...

Anal sodomy? To get the really big surprise google The First Scandal Adam and Eve. Then click once or twice to get the surprise.

wmjas said...

Polygamy is a factor -- but the other way. When the LDS church ended polygamy, the decision, though supposedly the result of revelation from God, was put in legal terms. The prophet's words were: "Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise. . . . I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land." [source]

The legalization of polygamy would be a big headache for the mainstream Mormon church and would give ammo to the polygamist fundamentalists from whom they want to distance themselves as much as possible. I strongly suspect fears about the legalization of polygamy are an important factor in Mormon opposition to gay marriage.