I applaud Councilwoman Milhaven’s effort to reach out with regard to the issue of the non-discrimination ordinance. In her recent op-ed piece published in the Independent, she asks several interesting questions. I will give you some answers then ask you some of my own questions.
You ask, “How can one assert that a lawsuit claiming discrimination is frivolous unless one thinks that discrimination is acceptable?”
This rhetorical question is another way of saying “anyone accused of discrimination is probably guilty as charged because to object to the accusation is a de facto approval of the unjust behavior.”
This question is so blatantly loaded that it boggles the mind as to how it got past your proofreading. It is like saying, “how can you object to being accused of taking bribes unless you actually approve of taking bribes.”
But, in the spirit of accepting you at face value the answer is, “ if the lawsuit is not based in fact or does not stand on sound legal footing it is, therefore, frivolous.” I hate to be Captain Obvious, but your rather obtuse rhetorical stance forces my hand.
As for the business community clamoring for this ordinance, I’ve been involved in the corporate services end of commercial real estate for over 30 years in Arizona. It is literally my job to talk to business owners, managers, and corporate executives about what is important to them when selecting a location.
We discuss everything from labor pool access, to tax rates, to real estate and transportation costs, and believe me, there are a lot of issues involved. Never, and I mean never, in 32 years of doing that job have I heard “lack of an LGBT non-discrimination ordinance” as a factor.
Now, I am certainly willing to recognize that fear of reprisal for not backing such an ordinance may be motivating some business people to become proponents, but that is far different than an actual “need” for such an ordinance.
As for religious rights, these questions are being played out in other jurisdictions, and they are not easily resolved. Because while you may think you are protecting a certain innocent class with these ordinances what in fact has happened is they have armed people with “protected status” who then seek out “religious objectors” in order to use the coercive power of government to get them to conform to their own ideas regarding what is or is not acceptable behavior.
This is exactly what took place in the original wedding cake lawsuit. The gay couple knew the baker would object and sought his services precisely because he would object in order to test the new law and exercise force to make the baker comply. This is objectionable on many levels.
First, it is not your place or my place to force a person to labor under circumstances they find objectionable. Second, these laws were originally formed and should be used primarily in instances where the providers of the product or service are scarce or inconvenient, as it was in the rural south years ago, where if you were refused service you might have to go 20 miles out of your way, which may be impossible given your resources, to get the seed, supplies, or equipment vital to your livelihood on your small farm.
But the gay couple in question could have gone to another baker, or baked their own cake , or made any number of 1,000 different arrangements. They could have, but they didn’t. Because they were not trying to get along with their neighbor. They were trying to coerce him and they were armed with an ordinance and they were going to damn well use it.
It is even more telling when you realize that the baker was not refusing them service. He had said the gay couple was welcome in the store anytime. He was simply trying to exercise his right to not participate in the ceremony which he found objectionable.
Additionally, if you are going to provide a special category of protection for “LGBT” people, can you please define how one attains membership? If, a man, married to a woman, with three kids had an experimental sexual phase a few years back, is he part of the protected group?
How about a young lady who partied a little too hardy one night and back at the sorority house some unusual things happened? Is she protected in some special fashion that her more “conservative” sorority sister is not? If she is not, then why have the ordinance?
Similarly, if you are to vote in favor of such an ordinance will you please define for me “gender expression?” Please provide examples of what constitutes “gender expression.”
Is this “expression” a behavior that is manifestly obvious in the workplace, and if so, how might it effect the employee’s performance, the performance of other employees, or the image of the company? If the effect is negative, can the employer terminate the employee, or would that be prohibited? If “gender expression” is not manifestly obvious, is the employer supposed to intuit who is protected and who is not? Furthermore, if it is not manifestly obvious, why have the ordinance?
We already have ordinances, regulations, and laws that protect against discrimination for age, sex, race (whatever that is?), and people with last names that have Spanish origins (what some people refer to as “ethnicity”), and some other categories that I’m sure I’ve left out.
My point is that if you keep expanding the list then everyone will be “special”, which is another way of saying no one is.
Discrimination happens every day. Everyone discriminates ( Did you randomly pick your spouse or significant other? I think not, you were discriminating in your choice, I’m sure.)
The difference is when you unjustly discriminate based on immaterial considerations in areas that are vital or at least very significant to the ability of the discriminated party to exercise their freedoms. And we already have laws on the books for that kind of discrimination. Adding more protected classes, especially those that are sketchily defined or nebulously described, simply puts the coercive force of government at the disposal of grievance mongering witch hunters.
My generation was raised to judge people by the content of their character. I tried to instill that ethic in my kids. Business is very competitive. All good managers know they cannot afford to waste human capital. In all my years as a business consultant I’ve seen the overwhelming majority of business owners and executives prioritize one thing above all else; the ability to do the job!
They don’t care about race, ethnicity, age, gender, or what you do in the privacy of your bedroom, but can you do your job well? It’s not that they are above being prejudiced. None of us are. But the competitive nature of the market necessitates they act in accordance with the principal of competitive advantage, and so they seek the best people for the task at hand.
This ordinance is unnecessary and potentially destructive. It is simply a trendy way for shallow irrational politicians to “feel good” about themselves without having to think too hard. Don’t be one of them.
Editor’s note: Mr. Brown is a resident of Scottsdale. Readers can respond or submit their own opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: Mr. Brown is a Paradise Valley resident.