May 23, 2007
Your doctrinal slip is showing
Posted by: Chris
There are some valid and reasonable arguments against adding new categories of protection to existing workplace discrimination statutes — but they weren't on display this week in Nebraska. The state's unicameral legislature voted down a bill that would extend job bias laws, which already cover race, religion, national origin, physical disabilities and age, to also include sexual orientation.
But before the vote, these heartland legislators came up with some mighty interesting arguments to oppose the measure. Leading the way was the scholarly Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff, Neb., who according to AP argued against sexual orientation protections because being gay is "a choice," unlike other protected groups.
"I don't believe they should be in the same class of race, color, creed, religion because I believe life is about a series of choices," said Harms, a Democrat.
Last time I checked, creeds and religious affiliations were a lot easier to choose than sexual orientations, but maybe Harms and his fellow Cornhuskers are bigger swingers than we are out east. I mean I'm sure the good Christian parents there must indoctrinate their children early and often, but do Nebraskans really have as little choice about their "creed" and "religion" as they do their "race" or "color"?
(Keep in mind, by the way, that this airtight logic comes from a distinguished politician who according to his online bio has also been the president of two colleges and a dean at three others.)
Not to be outdone, Republican Sen. Tony Fulton, from the big city of Lincoln, argued that gay employees don't really need the protection anyway since there are popular TV shows with gay characters.
"There's a certain amount of credibility, I guess, granted to the homosexual lifestyle," he said.
Not enough credibility, apparently, to convince Senator Fulton and his colleagues that in Nebraska, gays are misunderstood and mistreated enough to deserve basic workplace protections. Or enough credibility, for that matter, for public officials like these two good senators to respect the judgment of psychiatric and psychological associations in the U.S. and abroad, which have universally concluded that being gay isn't a "lifestyle" or a "choice" anymore than is being heterosexual.
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