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It’s Not the Principle, It’s the Prejudice

Rob Tisinai

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:

Another excerpt:

  •  “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.

Comments

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Ben in Oakland
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

I have said this many times and in many venues. I can reject the totality of your religious beliefs, and that won’t bother you in the slightest. You have no problem with living next to me, protecting me from religious discrimination, or NOT thinking that my religious freedom is somehow a threat to yours.

But let me say I am gay, and reject just this tiny, itty bitty little ditty you sing about how god hates homosexuality, and all of a sudden, your freedom is under assault.

Why, it would almost make you think that this isn’t about religious belief at all, but an ancient, enduring, deeply ingrained prejudice, sometimes justified as sincere Religous belief, but occasionally admitted for what it so clearly is.

Occasionally.

Timothy Kincaid
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

And the sad thing is that the vast majority of religious people we know and work with don’t remotely believe the poo that Barber flings. But because no one says “hey, that is some crazy talk and no we don’t oppose being decent to people”, then Barber looks like he speaks for all of them.

Steve
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

These people claim it is not gay people they are against but don’t want to be used to be part of a gay marriage.

I might almost believe them if all along they had also refused to supply the cakes and flowers for weddings of a believer and a nonbeliever (forbidden by Paul) and divorced people (clearly adultery – Jesus’ words, not mine). I might even give them a break if they decided to start refusing to participate in those weddings from here on out.

Since they don’t seem to have much of a problem with those things, it makes it difficult to believe them when they say they are only standing up for traditional marriage and are not anti-gay.

Mark F.
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Good comments, Rob. As a libertarian, I don’t believe in anti-discrimination laws for private businesses, and I accept that this would give people the legal (but not moral)right to discriminate against me for any reason. But the anti-gay people do indeed want special laws just for themselves, and they want all sorts of crazy rights that few workplaces would tolerate.

Hunter
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

“But principles are only principles if they apply them consistently.”

Do you honestly think these people have any principles — aside from their own self-aggrandizement, I mean?

Timothy Kincaid
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Mark, I agree.

I am not a fan of non-discrimination laws in general. But when they protect everyone under the sun other than gay people, then I favor at least giving us the same rights that offer protection for being Jehovah’s Witness or for being pregnant.

Neil
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

This distortion of the original document by Barber was so blatant I decided to try pointing it out in the comments under his WND article. I was curious to to see if directed to a little reality, the readers would adjust to it.

It couldn’t be denied the brochure was just from an employee group and not a managerial directive. But the spin was maintained by asserting that merely allowing the brochure to be emailed was enough to for managers to know it as a tacit threat from their bosses.

Then I pointed out how the bit about not being silent was to do with how you respond to a staff member coming out to you. The standard response to that was that only a pervert would want to make a point of their sexual activity.

I explained the obvious, about how we all reveal our orientations in myriad subtle ways in everyday conversation and that coming out just makes it easier to clear the air (as usually you’re assumed to be straight and the simple use of pronouns will likely start gossip and speculation). And the response was a word salad of self contradictions that seemed to be saying everyone accepts LGBTs already so no one should need to come out.

For the Barbers of this world, we already have our victory. Any efforts towards equality are understood as Gaystapo/Big Brother/Stalinism. That’s the thinking. Why should we want anti-discrimination laws when we already have total acceptance.

I guess Barber lives in a nightmare where only he and a minority of the righteous are pounding on the sound proof glass, unable to get the attention of the accepting rubes who are about to be swallowed up by a tyranny of deviants and their unholy agenda of “rights”.

Lord_Byron
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

I love the fact that they take the stance that lying is ok if it’s for jesus. Ken Ham did a similar thing recently except in this case he dubbed over the original question he asked in order to make the respondents sound evil.

Priya Lynn
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Lord_Byron, where can I find the specifics of the Ken Ham incident you refer to?

Lord_Byron
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

@Priya
I’ll post a link to the video that talks about the editing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GW05npbQHVs&feature=player_embedded
that link goes to a person talking about the edited movie by comparing the audio

This link is the original unedited footage and the section of concern is at 1:25
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xTLkv8Ync4

and this is the edited footage where you can see the video altered at 10:16
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7pe3_VQbUM

The movie that he was doing was supposed to be a “documentary” about John Lennon.

Regan DuCasse
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

People like Barber make the complaint about being silenced for their views about homosexuality and gay people. But no one is silencing them at all. They expect the impossible of others as if in any course of casual conversation or social and professional environment, gay people have any choice when it comes to their orientation or revealing it directly or indirectly.
Barber and his ilk, feel obligated to say insulting and inaccurate things about gay people or TO them, as if THEY have no choice but to talk to or about gay people in that manner.
Clearly, they restrain themselves when it comes to heterosexuals who meet their negative moral qualifications. So they are capable of it and don’t feel they are silenced.
The anti gay are demanding they be allowed to have bad manners and create an atmosphere of hostility and distrust in a work or service environment, when that is clearly the exact opposite of what such places would encourage.
They anti gay, whatever the reason, are the social liability and refuse to believe it.

Priya Lynn
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Thanks so much Lord_Byron.

Lord_Byron
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

You’re welcome Priya

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