Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Recognizing Sexual Orientation as Protected Class is Bad Idea

Recognizing Sexual Orientation?
Dr. Kevin Shrum

The mighty Nashville Metro Council is at it again when it comes to expanding the classes of persons protected against discrimination. Ordinance 11.20.130 recommends that the terms ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ be added to the already comprehensive protections the citizens of Davidson County enjoy.

My suspicion is that most Davidson County residents believe that these persons are already protected under the current language of discrimination and that the adding of these terms is motivated by a liberal political agenda than good public policy. Already, adversaries are lining up for battle.

For example, Liz Garrigan, a contributing writer to The City Paper of Nashville, offered a disappointing defense of this ordinance with a string of accusatory words and phrases, void of any reasoned argument for her position. Ms. Garrigan has apparently forgotten that when you revert to name-calling it probably means you have either lost the argument or have no argument to begin with.

Ms. Garrigan called the previous Metro Council, who rejected a similar ordinance change in 2003, ‘a collective of home-schooled temperance union virgins.’ She labeled them ‘irrational and hapless culture warriors’ and ‘religious fundamentalists’. Further, she Garrigan identified several former Council members as more akin to a ‘crazed alleyway patron than a lawmaker, unfair as that may be to alleyway patrons’ and added terms such as ‘wingnuts’, ‘mean-spirited’, and ‘conservative, cave-dwelling opponents’ to describe current opponents of this ordinance.

The case against Ordinance 11.20.130 is very simple. First, all classes of persons are already covered under the current language of the law, including those persons with differing sexual orientations from what are considered normal, natural, and traditional. Crimes against homosexuals can be prosecuted under current laws.

Second, no scientific or medical evidence exists for creating new categories of protected classes of persons based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, the Human Genome Project, which mapped the DNA of humans, discovered no ‘gay gene.’ It is a misnomer to argue for additional protections for gay and lesbian persons based upon science or as one would argue for protections based upon race. Race and sexual identity are not organic or moral equivalents. Why must we protect a lifestyle that is a matter of choice?

Third, from publications such as ‘Out & About,’ the recommended ordinance change has a more long-term goal than first appears – the open acceptance of the gay and lesbian lifestyle as normal. What is disingenuous about this ordinance is that it cloaks a larger agenda that the general public does not want or agree with. Even if the proposed ordinance passes it does not ‘normalize’ what is an abnormal lifestyle choice.

Fourth, the proposed ordinance change would dampen the freedom of speech, conscience, and religious expressions of all Metro/Davidson County residents, including Metro employees. To force citizens to comply with a law that is politically driven, morally unacceptable, and socially expedient will eventually squelch the freedom to respectfully and peacefully disagree.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not add a religious reason for opposing this ordinance. God created all persons in His image. Individuals are to be respected and protected by the law. There is no room for name-calling, hate, or violence. Having said this, these affirmations do not mean that all lifestyles, choices and decisions are equally and morally valid – same-sex marriage is not equal to traditional marriage; homosexuality is not equivalent with heterosexuality. In other words, God made us in His image, male and female, to be respected and protected from lawlessness. This is why Ordinance 11.20.130 must be defeated.