Pelosi’s Top Legislative Priority Would Punish Dissenters on LGBT Issues

By Ryan Anderson Published on November 1, 2018

Nancy Pelosi made headlines last week stating that if Democrats reclaim the House of Representatives, a top agenda item will be to pass laws banning disagreement on LGBT issues.

Of course those aren’t the exact words she used, but when “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are elevated to protected classes in antidiscrimination law, that’s the effect that the government policy has.

But not every disagreement is discrimination, and our law shouldn’t suppose otherwise.

Anti-Discrimination Laws That Persecute

The Heritage Foundation has long opposed the expansion of antidiscrimination laws to elevate “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes. Where enacted, these laws — known as SOGI laws — are frequently used as swords to persecute people with unpopular beliefs, rather than as shields to protect people from unjust discrimination.

Part of the problem with these laws is that they treat reasonable actions as if discriminatory.

So, for example, if a baker creates custom wedding cakes for marriages, but won’t design or create them for same-sex unions, that’s considered “discrimination” on the basis of “sexual orientation.”

If a Catholic adoption agency works to find permanent homes for orphans where they’ll be raised by a married mom and dad, but won’t place children with two moms and no dad, or two dads and no mom, that’s considered “discrimination” on the basis of “sexual orientation.”

If a small business provides health insurance that covers a double mastectomy in the case of breast cancer, but not for women who want to transition and identify as men, that’s considered “discrimination” on the basis of “gender identity.”

If a school provides separate bathrooms and locker rooms for male and female students, but won’t let male students who identify as women into the female places, that’s considered “discrimination” on the basis of “gender identity.”

These reasonable policies on disputed questions should not be penalized by the government as if discriminatory.

Of course, business owners should respect the intrinsic dignity of all of their employees and customers. But this isn’t what laws on sexual orientation and gender identity entail.

Their threats to our freedoms unite civil libertarians concerned about free speech and religious liberty, free-market proponents concerned about freedom of contract and governmental overregulation, and social conservatives concerned about marriage and culture.

Trampling First Amendment Rights

America is dedicated to protecting the freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution, while respecting citizens’ equality before the law. None of these freedoms is absolute. Compelling governmental interests can at times trump fundamental civil liberties, but laws on sexual identity and gender identity do not pass this test.

Rather, they trample First Amendment rights and unnecessarily impinge on citizens’ right to run their local schools, charities, and businesses in ways consistent with their values. These laws do not protect equality before the law. Instead, they grant special privileges that are enforceable against private actors.

These laws could also have serious unintended consequences. These laws tend to be vague and overly broad, lacking clear definitions of what discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” mean and what conduct can and cannot be penalized.

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These laws would impose ruinous liability on innocent citizens for alleged “discrimination” based on subjective and unverifiable identities, not on objective traits. They would further increase government interference in markets, potentially discouraging economic growth and job creation.

By making “gender identity” a protected class, the government would force Americans to embrace transgender ideology in a variety of settings — with serious consequences for schoolhouses, locker rooms, hospitals, and workplace policies that undermine common sense.

Schools would have to redo their bathroom, locker room, and dorm room policies to allow students access based on their subjective identity, rather than their objective biology.

Employers would have to do the same and force all employees to use “preferred pronouns,” as well as cover hormonal and surgical transition procedures in their health care plans.

Hospitals would have to provide these procedures, and relevant physicians would have to perform them.

Dangerous Overreach

In essence, elevating “gender identity” to a protected class across our federal antidiscrimination laws could impose a nationwide transgender bathroom policy, a nationwide pronoun policy, and a nationwide sex-reassignment health care mandate.

Already the Department of Education is investigating a complaint from a 5-year-old girl who says she was sexually assaulted by a male classmate who was allowed access to the girls’ bathroom. Last year, Melody Wood and I documented over 130 examples of men charged with using access to bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers to target women for voyeurism and sexual assault.

SOGI laws threaten the freedom of citizens, individually and in associations, to affirm their religious or moral convictions — convictions such as that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that maleness and femaleness are objective biological realities to be valued and affirmed, not rejected or altered. Under these laws, acting on these beliefs in a charitable, educational, or commercial context could be actionable discrimination.

These laws are the ones that have been used to penalize bakers, florists, photographers, schools, and adoption agencies when they declined to act against their convictions concerning marriage and sexuality. They do not adequately protect religious liberty or freedom of speech.

Tension Rather Than Unity

In short, laws on sexual orientation and gender identity seek to regulate decisions that are best handled by private actors without government interference. They disregard the conscience and liberty of people of good will who happen not to share the government’s opinions about issues of marriage and sexuality based on a reasonable worldview, moral code, or religious faith. Accordingly, these laws risk becoming sources of social tension rather than unity.

Instead of treating disagreement as if it were discrimination, Americans of all walks of life must strive to peacefully coexist even when we don’t see eye to eye. How sad that Pelosi has already announced her intention to legislate division and punish disagreement.

 

Copyright 2018 The Daily Signal

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  • Paul

    She’s been a great tool to advance conservatives, just need to point at her lunacy to see where the Ds want to take the country.

  • Trilemma

    If a baker creates custom wedding cakes for marriages, but won’t design or create them for same-sex unions, that’s considered discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation because it is indeed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    If a Catholic adoption agency works to find permanent homes for orphans where they’ll be raised by a married mom and dad, but won’t place children with two moms and no dad, or two dads and no mom, that’s considered discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation because it is indeed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    In both these cases, people who are Christian want such discrimination to be legal. The question is whose rights take precedence.

    A double mastectomy to save the life of someone with cancer is not the same as a double mastectomy for cosmetic/psychological purposes for someone who is transgender. Insurance should probably cover them differently such as different deductibles.

    When it comes to locker rooms, a person with a penis should not be allowed in the women’s locker room.

    • GLT

      You’re functioning under the fallacy that to discriminate is always negative, it is not. An individual has the right to discriminate against another person as long as that discrimination does not include physical threats or harm. The term discriminate only refers to a distinction or a differentiation. You discriminate every day of your life and do not give it a second thought.

      • Trilemma

        Wrong. I am not functioning under the fallacy that to discriminate is always negative. In my comment, I discriminated twice. I discriminated against certain people using the women’s locker room. If a person who is a transgender woman has a penis then she should not be allowed to use the women’s locker room. After she has the surgery to invert her penis into a vagina then she can use the women’s locker room. I also made a distinction (discriminated) between a double mastectomy for cancer and a double mastectomy for transgenderism and suggested they should be treated differently by insurance companies.

        Unless there’s conclusive proof that children raised by a same sex couple are harmed in some way exclusive to that arrangement, I think it’s wrong to discriminate against same sex couples wanting to adopt. I think it’s also wrong for a baker who sells wedding cakes to refuse to sell a wedding cake to someone just because it’s a same sex couple getting married.

        • GLT

          “I think it’s also wrong for a baker who sells wedding cakes to refuse to sell a wedding cake to someone just because it’s a same sex couple getting married.”

          Why?

          I am aware you discriminated in your last post, everyone does, it is unavoidable. Where you are fallacious is in the fact you think you have the right to determine what can be discriminated against and what cannot for other people. Laws can be passed to counter discrimination but they do not stop discrimination nor can they.

          • Trilemma

            People in the LGBT community have the same right to not be discriminated against as Christians do.

            I do not have the right to determine who can or cannot be discriminated against but people in congress do. It’s up to the judicial system to determine if anti-discrimination laws are constitutional or not.

          • GLT

            “People in the LGBT community have the same right to not be discriminated against as Christians do.”

            But if Christians are forced to act against their conscience they do not have the right to not be discriminated against. Your logic is woeful, my friend.

            “I do not have the right to determine who can or cannot be discriminated against,…”

            Sorry, I determine my own actions in light of God’s word, not anyone else.

          • Trilemma

            Anti-discrimination laws don’t discriminate against Christians. They apply equally to everyone.

    • No, it is refusing to take part in a satanic ritual meant to mock marriage. One cannot support marriage and the destruction of marriage.

      I support marriage and hate the satanic mockery.

      you love the satanic mockery as you think overthrowing God’s order will apotheosize you, and you hate marriage as it is the foundation of the family which you REALLY hate. This is why you want sodomites to adopt, as it is not enough for you to merely satanically mock marriage.

      • Trilemma

        The first amendment protects your right to believe whatever you want about same sex marriage. It does not give you the right to break anti-discrimination laws.

        • The first amendment is just words.

          Truth is Absolute and is the only thing that matters. sodomy is the second worst sin of all, supporting it (as you do on here regularly) incurs special punishment, and the devil worshippers pretend to marry two men as an affront to the Sacrament of Marriage.

  • James

    She represents most of the city of San Francisco.

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