Religious Freedom, A License to Discriminate.


Vice President Mike Pence speaking at the Heritage Foundation’s President’s Club Meeting in December. CREDIT: AP Photo/Cliff Owen.

Vice President Mike Pence speaking at the Heritage Foundation’s President’s Club Meeting in December. CREDIT: AP Photo/Cliff Owen.

It’s no secret that the constant rethug push for “religious freedom” is nothing more than ugly bigotry, and a way of oppressing already marginalized peoples. They are finally coming out and admitting as much.

The Heritage Foundation has been called “a driving force” behind the Trump White House due to its many close ties with the administration. This week, Heritage issued a new report drawing a strict line in opposition to any kind of nondiscrimination protection for LGBT people, citing “religious freedom” as such a vital right that any LGBT law would be a burden, regardless of whether it offered even the broadest of religious exemptions.

Heritage’s new report, “How to Think About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Policies and Religious Freedom,” takes the position that laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations would be “unjustified.” To arrive at this conclusion, author Ryan T. Anderson undermines the legitimacy of LGBT identities and dismisses the reality of discrimination that LGBT people experience, shrugging off the consequences of that discrimination.

Anderson’s approach is to simply redefine terms in a way that suits Heritage’s anti-LGBT agenda. Wedding vendors that have been penalized for not serving same-sex couples, for example, weren’t “discriminating” against people because of their sexual orientation, but they simply refused service “because they judged in conscience that they could not endorse certain morally relevant conduct.” This is an argument that courts have roundly rejected, because only gay and bi people would enter a same-sex marriage, so it’s de facto discrimination based on sexual orientation, but the report simply denies that it’s “discrimination” or even “mistreatment” at all.

The Heritage Report also insists that sexual orientation and gender identity are not comparable to traits like race and sex because they are “subjective identities,” and thus not “verifiable.” They can only be defined, the report claims, based on “actions,” such as same-sex weddings or gender confirmation surgeries — not identities that people experience at every moment of their lives. This is nothing short of erasure of the LGBT human experience, diminishing it only to “actions” that religious conservatives can reject as “immoral.” It is in no way an accurate representation of how LGBT people experience their identities — and certainly runs contrary to everything psychology has learned about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Crucial to the report’s thesis is to downplay the extent that LGBT people even experience discrimination. This contradicts numerous studies that have shown rates of discrimination that cannot be characterized by mere anecdotes. The recent massive U.S. Trans Survey, for example, found that nearly 1 in 5 transgender people have lost a job just for being transgender. And statistics like those do not even count the invisible discrimination that takes place; studies like résumé tests are showing that many LGBT people are discriminated against without even knowing it.

[…]

Heritage has drawn a new line in the sand by saying that its opposition to LGBT protections is uncompromising and that it is not even open to considering exemptions. It’s nothing short of an admission to what LGBT advocates have been arguing all along: that conservatives are simply using “religious freedom” as a pretext for allowing discrimination against LGBT people.

[…]

Republicans are expected to re-introduce the “First Amendment Defense Act” any day now, which will create a special license to discriminate solely for those who oppose LGBT equality. And President Trump has promised to sign it.

Think Progress has the full story.

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    … sexual orientation and gender identity are not comparable to traits like race and sex because they are “subjective identities,” and thus not “verifiable.” They can only be defined, the report claims, based on “actions,” such as same-sex weddings or gender confirmation surgeries — not identities that people experience at every moment …

    So they [Heritage Fndn] should have no objection to my refusing to do any business with, or allow onto my property, any and all conservatives, right?

  2. Saad says

    The Heritage Report also insists that sexual orientation and gender identity are not comparable to traits like race and sex because they are “subjective identities,” and thus not “verifiable.”

    Oh cool. So all these straight people can now be discriminated against.

    Wait, they’re Christians too, which is another trait that is a “subjective identity” and thus not “verifiable”. Bonus.

  3. mesh says

    Pretty much. Once they’re finished defining gays and transgenders out of existence, they’ll have set a strong legal precedent for abolishing racial protections.

    “Gosh, in this post-racial, colorblind society I never even notice these ‘race’ groups until people engage in hate speech calling me a racist…”

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