Yesterday, the US Senate passed the fairly-innocuous-sounding Employee Non-discrimination Act, which (should it pass the House and be signed by the President) will bar employers with fifteen or more employees from ‘firing or refusing to hire workers because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered’.
Which is something ‘90% of Fortune 500 companies and 22 states’ already do, which makes it seem rather redundant. That is, until you take a closer look at exactly what ENDA is set up to do (for this, Ryan Anderson at the Heritage Foundation’s recent article is invaluable).
There are plenty of problems involved with ENDA (as Mr. Anderson outlines), but probably the biggest problem is evident in the YahooNews/AP headline for the first linked story up above: ‘Senate OKs gay rights bill banning discrimination’.
You cannot ban discrimination. Discrimination is inherent in the human psyche. We discriminate daily on things as benign as what to have for lunch all the way up to other human beings. We slap labels on each other – and on ourselves – whether those labels are meaningful or not. And when we slap labels on ourselves and each other, we are making distinctions between ourselves and others; we are discriminating either for or against another person or person-group.
You cannot ban discrimination. Oh, certainly, you may promulgate and pass laws restricting the outward expression of discrimination, but unless you want to go full thought-cop, you’ll never ban internally-held discriminatory feelings or emotions. Instead, laws such as ENDA will end up forcing people to bottle up their discriminatory feelings, which in turn will promote resentment against government – which generated and passed the law – employers – whether they willingly or unwillingly go along with the game – and members of the GLBT-and-so-on community who will be perceived as beneficiaries of their newest bestowed privilege.
What’s actually rather humorous, in a dark way, is that ENDA – promoted as an anti-discrimination bill – is actually discriminatory. It’s specifically geared to provide ‘protections’ for ‘gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered’ people, thereby discriminating in their favor over other groups of people. But that’s the way this works: discrimination is a lot like energy – it cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form, or, in this case, focus.
And we can already see the new discriminatory focus ENDA is fine-tuning. Which types of businesses are most likely to discriminate based on sexual preferences? Here are three: obviously-religious businesses such as churches, church-run hospitals and schools, and the like; businesses which want to maintain a professional face to their customers and the community and realize a two-hundred-fifty-pound, six-foot-two, bearded, James-Earl-Jones-voiced transvestite who demands to be called ‘Buffy’ and wears sundresses to work isn’t ideal; and secular schools which offer ‘non-gender-specific’ restrooms and locker/shower facilities for those kids who firmly believe they’re not the gender they see when they drop their pants (we’re already having problems in the first and third of those examples, folks).
So what was ENDA really supposed to do? Considering the companies and states who beat ENDA to the punch, the only thing I can come up with is that it was designed to 1) garner votes from the LGBT community for those politicians who champion it, 2) pay back the LGBT community for their support, and/or 3) punish those business owners whom, because of their convictions – religious or not – have drawn the ire of the current Administration.