Archive for July 20, 2014

President Obama is going to sign an Executive Order (Imperial President!) on Monday preventing federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. The order will prevent the non-hiring or firing of people based solely on sexual orientation and only applies to organizations, for-profit or non-profit, that contract with the federal government. This is a good policy, since there is no federal law and few state laws protecting LGBT people from religious bigots in their jobs. As expected, the religious bigots are in an uproar, having sent a letter to Obama demanding they be given special rights to be exempted from the order. Obama refused to grant any exemption, so these groups will most likely sue for the right to practice their bigotry against employees.

Of course, the bigots have turned to the right-wing noise machine to press their case that they should be allowed to discriminate. One of the people they turned to was Neil Munro at the Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson’s alternative conservative digital rag. Mr. Munro pulls out all the stops in writing his story, checking his journalistic integrity at the door.

He’s expected to sign a regulation on July 21 that would force religious groups that get federal contracts to give up federal funding if they don’t submit to progressives’ claim that homosexuality and heterosexuality are morally equivalent.

The Executive Order does not say anything about moral equivalency. It merely says that if you want do business as a federal contractor, you cannot make hiring and firing decisions based solely on sexual orientation. Company or non-profit owners are still free to believe whatever they want.

Gay and lesbian groups cheered the decision, but many religious groups will contest the regulation as a violation of the constitution’s “wall of separation” that protects religious groups from government dictates.

The government is not “dictating” anything that violates any “wall of separation.” The separation between church and state, which conservatives usually despise because it interferes with their desire to have a Christian government, prevents the government from endorsing a state religion or preventing the free exercise of a religion. This order does neither. The order prevents endorsement by not allowing one particular religious view to be a criteria for employment in support of the US government and business owners are still free to preach bigotry against gays to their hearts’ content.

Many religious groups, such as Catholic Charities, seek and accept federal funding because it helps them carry out charitable missions that exemplify their religion and are also sought by government.

Unless they abandon their religious beliefs relating to men and women, the family and sex, they be forced to give up federal funding.

Again, Munro is lying about the order. No one is being forced to “abandon their religious beliefs.” If they believe it is righteous to discriminate, they can choose not ask the government for a federal contract. No one is being forced to compete for federal contracts.

Once Obama signs the regulation July 21, the religious groups likely will sue in courts for a reversal.

They’ll sue because an existing law — the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act — bars regulators from imposing unnecessary burdens on religious groups.

And this is where we get to the crux of the argument. Since the Supreme Court bastardized the definition of a person in the RFRA in the Hobby Lobby decision, the bigots believe they can use it to gain special privileges. This will fail, though, because the government is not regulating anything in this instance. Everyone has the right to compete for a federal contract if they meet the standards imposed by the awarding agency and the agency has the authority to dictate the standards. The government can and does impose requirements in every single contract. They require that employees be paid the prevailing wage for the location the work will be performed in. They say a company must be no larger than a certain size in order to compete. They insist that a minimum standard of benefits be provided to employees. If a business does not like the restrictions imposed on the competition, they have every right to not ask the government for a contract award.

The religious bigots will continue to use the Hobby Lobby decision to try and gain the right to openly discriminate against whomever they don’t like. If you accept that a company or group cannot hire or fire an employee for the sole reason of their sexual orientation, then you have to accept that they can discriminate for any reason whatsoever. You have to support the contention that a company is allowed to only hire whites, or Hispanics, or Asians, etc. You have to believe that a woman who gets pregnant without being married can be fired on the spot. You also have to accept that a company can dismiss an employee because he had a beer and a cigarette after work. If you believe bigotry is okay in one instance, you have to believe it is okay in all instances.