It’s Not the Principle, It’s the Prejudice
May 22nd, 2013
Here’s something that baffles me. Our opponents complain that laws banning anti-gay discrimination violate their religious liberty, but they have no qualms about laws against religious discrimination.
For instance, Catholic Charities of Boston chose to shut down adoption services rather than place kids with married same-sex parents, and decried it as a violation of their religious freedom — even though they were fine with not being allowed to discriminate against Jews. For many faiths, belonging to the wrong religion, or failing to accept the right Savior, is a permanent ticket to Hell. What could be more important to them when choosing a parent than that?
Yet we hear not a peep from them about these religious discrimination laws. Somehow it’s only a violation of their freedom when it comes to the gays. But principles are only principles if they apply them consistently. If they search for why we sometimes see their principles as bigotry, this is a good place to start.
For example, picture this scene a newly-promoted manager being mentored by an executive.
Exec: You need to foster a safe and productive work environment. Don’t disparage people based on their gender.
Manager: Of course not.
Exec: Or their race.
Manager: Of course not.
Exec: Or their religion.
Manager: Of course not.
Exec: Or their orientation.
Manager: How dare you! This is an egregious violation of personal liberty! I’ve never seen anything like it! What is this, the Soviet Union?
I can imagine your reaction: Rob, you’re being an ass. You’ve mocked our opponents before, but this goes too far. They’d have to be ridiculous, self-righteous loons without an ounce of self-awareness to have such an over-the-top reaction, so divorced from reality, and it does us no good to tar them with such ridicule.
And I would kick shamefully at the ground and admit my fault.
Wait, no, I’d point you to this controversy over DOJ Pride.
DOJ Pride is a group for LGBT employees in the Department of Justice. They’ve distributed some helpful tips to DOJ managers about dealing with LGBT employees (I haven’t confirmed that they’re genuine, though I hope so), and the National Organization for Marriage is wallowing in a mucky sty of outrage. They’re promoting this spin on it from super-anti-gay Matt Barber:
The document is chilling. It’s riddled with directives that grossly violate – prima facie –employees’ First Amendment liberties.
You can view the document here and decide for yourself whether these are “directives.” They seem more like “helpful hints” from a group with no policy-making authority. But let’s look at what the document says:
Managers are essential to creating a workplace climate that is welcoming to and inclusive of all employees, and thus maximizes performance and productivity. In fact, managers have a more direct impact on workplace climate for employees, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, than nondiscrimination and EEO policies and even co-workers.
Creating a work environment in which LGBT employees feel welcome and included has been shown to boost the performance and productivity of LGBT and non-LGBT employees alike. It also allows LGBT employees to build the kinds of open and trusting relationships with coworkers and managers that
are necessary for professional success.
So, what can a manager do? Here are seven practical tips to help managers create a truly inclusive workplace climate for all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Here’s what Matt Barber and NOM tell us is really going on:
Following are excerpts from the “DOJ Pride” decree. When it comes to “LGBT pride,” employees are ordered:
- “DON’T judge or remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.” (Italics mine)
That’s a threat.
And not even a subtle one.
Got it? For Christians and other morals-minded federal employees, it’s no longer enough to just shut up and “stay in the closet” – to live your life in silent recognition of biblical principles (which, by itself, is unlawful constraint). When it comes to mandatory celebration of homosexual and cross-dressing behaviors, “silence will be interpreted as disapproval.”
All italics belong to Matt Barber. And so do the lies. This excerpted bullet is not about “LGBT pride” or “celebration” of anything. According to the guidelines, this is about what to do when an employee comes out to you. That’s it.
(Just as a side note, here’s the eternal, self-answering question: If our opponents have such a good case, why must they tell lies?)
DOJ Pride offers further guidance:
- If an employee comes to your office, closes the door, and says “I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a while: I’m gay,” DO thank them for trusting you enough to tell you, ask if they’ve been made to feel safe and welcome in the workplace, and let them know about DOJ Pride.
- Sometimes the best reaction is a “non-reaction,” meaning not silence but a matter-of-fact, don’t-skip-a-beat response. For example, if an employee mentions her same-sex partner in passing, as in “My partner Janet and I saw the best movie this weekend,” DO react the way you would had she said “My husband Jeremy and I saw the best movie this weekend.” Ask about the movie, where they saw it, if they went out to dinner beforehand, etc.
What a strange world our opponents inhabit, where treating your gay staff the same way you treat your straight staff is some kind of special treatment and celebration of LGBT pride.
But what if you’re a manager who thinks personal lives shouldn’t be mentioned in the workplace? Simple — follow the guidance and treat everyone the same: impose this gag order on all employees, gay or straight (though I’ve never worked in such a hellhole).
Also, let’s be clear on this freedom of speech issue. If you’re at the office and your employee tells you, “We had my son’s bris on Saturday,” don’t silently ignore them and certainly don’t say, “You know if he doesn’t get baptized by a real minister he’s going to Hell, right?” Because you don’t always get to say any damn thing you want to at work, not when your job as manager is to foster a healthy work environment, not when that’s what you’ve been hired to do. This isn’t widely or wildly controversial — until it comes to gay people.
But Barber and NOM continue in their break from reality:
- “DO assume that LGBT employees and their allies are listening to what you’re saying (whether in a meeting or around the proverbial water cooler) and will read what you’re writing (whether in a casual email or in a formal document), and make sure the language you use is inclusive and respectful.”
Is this the DOJ or the KGB? “[A]ssume that LGBT employees are listening …”?
You thought my Soviet Union crack was parody, didn’t you. But no. Good lord, apparently it’s now a sign of LGBT-tyranny for us to listen when people speak and read what they write.
This is paranoia. This is why we speak of bigotry and homophobia, of psychological issues that run so deep its victims (and I mean the homophobes themselves) break from reality and drop into an abyss of derangement.
It’s not just NOM. Barber’s cry against tyranny has swept through the blogosphere. And some of these people who are so upset often are our bosses, our managers, our colleagues. It’s a great reminder for us. However far we’ve come, there’s still a population out there who feels the boot of oppression when they’re told to treat gay people like…people.