So a group of religious leaders, you know the type, are urging the president to allow for a religious exemption in upcoming federal rules protecting LGBT employees.
Well, that was fast.
As I said a couple days ago, the Hobby Lobby case is not resolved, and won’t be for a while. This ruling will be used an excuse for people who don’t like gays, blacks, Jews, Muslims, etc, to simply say, “I own this company and I have a strongly-held religious belief against working with such people.” True, the ruling says that it can’t be used to justify those sorts of discrimination, but people will argue, quite logically, that once you allow one exemption, how can you not allow others?
I was discussing this with one of my friends earlier. He basically said, “If you’re gay, why would you want to work for a corporation that doesn’t like gays?” It’s a valid question, and he and I are fortunate in that we live in the sixth largest city in the country, so we have options.
But what if you lived in small-town America? What if you lived in a town of only 5,000 people out in rural Nebraska, and you were a gay, black, Muslim? Let’s say that the largest employer in the area is one that doesn’t like Your Kind. Ok, you could in theory go work elsewhere, but what do you want to bet that some other businesses will take a cue from the largest one in the area, who they would probably want to keep happy, and also start to discriminate against Your Kind?
Oh, my friend says that social media would call out places like that. He’s right to a point. Remember how social media called-out Chik-Fil-A for their owner’s attitudes on gay marriage? Remember what happened when they did? Suddenly what fast food restaurant you ate at became a political issue. And Chik-Fil-A is still open, and still going strong, and their owner is still against gay marriage.
Laws against discrimination are important, and yes, they step on people’s freedom to discriminate. But as I’ve said before, once you’re doing business in the public space, you have to agree to certain rules. If you don’t like it, don’t open a business in the public space. That would be an annoying choice to have to make, but at least you could go look for a job, free of worry that someone would refuse to hire you for being a straight, white, Christian male.
It is worth noting, on the religious freedom side, that I would never tell a church they have to hire someone who isn’t of their faith, or that they could discriminate all they wanted to within church structure. But businesses are not churches, and that is that.