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In anti-discrimination law, a protected class is some personal identifier for which an individual cannot legally be persecuted or harassed. As misguided as anti-discrimination law is, the absurdity is taken one step further when the law creates a protected class from an individual’s choice.
If we have protected classes at all, they should be limited to only natural, biological traits. By instead expanding the definition to also include choices and personal preference, you open the floodgates for all sorts of alternative definitions that corrupt the original intent and neuter any meaning the term once had.
In the California Supreme Court’s recent ruling on same-sex marriage, a portion of the concurring opinion reads as follows:
This state’s current policies and conduct regarding homosexuality recognize that gay individuals are entitled to the same legal rights and the same respect and dignity afforded all other individuals and are protected from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, and, more specifically, recognize that gay individuals are fully capable of entering into the kind of loving and enduring committed relationships that may serve as the foundation of a family and of responsibly caring for and raising children. (Page 67; emphasis added)
The point here cannot be overemphasized—the California Court believes that an individual’s personal decision is sufficient to protect them from any discrimination relating to that decision. In our modern, convoluted legal system, this means that any negative speech, action, or treatment that may be construed to be affected by one’s perception of that “protected class” identifier is punishable by law.
As always, the dissent in the Court’s opinion is an enjoyable read:
Undaunted, the majority nonetheless claims California’s legal history as evidence of the constitutional right it espouses. According to the majority, the very fact that the Legislature has, over time, adopted progressive laws such as the DPA, thereby granting many substantial rights to gays and lesbians, constitutes “explicit official recognition” of “this state’s current policies and conduct regarding homosexuality,” i.e., “that gay individuals are entitled to the same legal rights and the same respect and dignity afforded all other individuals and are protected from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.” “In light of this recognition,” the majority concludes, “sections 1 and 7 of article I of the California Constitution cannot properly be interpreted to withhold from gay individuals” full equality of rights with heterosexual persons, including the right to same-sex legal unions that are fully equivalent—including in name—to those of opposite-sex partners. (Dissent, Page 11; emphasis added)
In all of the excitement and turmoil resulting from this Court’s opinion, the fact that they named sexual preference as a protected class has largely gone unnoticed. Sure, the gay community is ecstatic over this decision, because they can now sue anybody who they perceive has wronged them in any way on the basis of their sexuality. But common sense dictates that sexual preference should never be a protected class, for one’s sexuality is a decision (that can change according to one’s pleasure), whereas legitimate protected classes are identifers that the individual has no control over whatsoever, such as race, sex, and age. As one commentator put it:
You see, discriminating against an individual solely for an attribute which is out of their control (like race) is not only wrong, it shows a lack of intelligence. Much like an innocent baby in the womb is not guilty of anything for merely existing, a person cannot be held responsible for an attribute like race, gender, or age that they did not choose. A behavior is a completely different animal. Homosexuality deserves to be a protected class about as much as peanut butter and jelly sandwich eaters do.
This Court’s decision is not an isolated issue of little import to those of us living elsewhere. California’s “progressive” legislation is seen by many as an indicator of legal trends and direction; paying attention to politics in California is akin to watching a weather forecast. Should this Court’s decision go unchallenged (and I’m not sure if the Protect Marriage Amendment, if passed, would alter this part of the decision), individuals, companies, and churches would all be threatened with legal action for their personal views on homosexuality.
Consider a few examples that paint the picture (all of these from California alone):
- The California Supreme Court voted unanimously that the City of Berkeley could withdraw a rent subsidy to a Boy Scouts affiliate (the Sea Scouts) at the city marine because of the scouts’ opposition to homosexality. (link)
- The San Francisco City Board of Supervisors issued a scathing resolution condeming the Catholic Church’s moral teachings on homosexuality and urging Catholic leaders to defy Vatican directives telling agencies not to place children with same-sex couples. (link)
- A Federal District Court held that a student’s religious speech opposing school support of homosexuality could be banned as such “injurious remarks” “intrude upon…the rights of other students”. (link)
- Eharmony.com was sued for refusing to offer its dating services to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. (Eharmony.com was founded in 2000 by an evangelical Christian with strong ties to Focus on the Family.) (link)
- The Oakland city government found the words “Marriage is the foundation of the natural family and sustains family values” to be a hate crime and reprimanded a group of Oakland city government employees for using these words on a flyer in the workplace. (link)
- Four San Diego firefighters were ordered to participate in the San Digeo Gay Pride Parade. In a lawsuit currently before the California Superior Court in San Diego, they are suing the City of San Diego for sexual harassment and violating their freedom of speech. (link)
- Two evangelical physicians have been sued for acting in accord with their religious beliefs and not artificially inseminating a lesbian. This case is pending before the CA Supreme Court. (link)
- A California Lutheran high school is being sued for expelling two girls who engaged in “homosexual conduct” on campus. (link)
Again, the gay community is adamant that they be afforded legal protection (so-called “equality”) for their personal decision. This is tantamount to choosing to drink grape juice and suing all the manufacturers of my clothing for creating a product that stains when coming in contact with my beverage of choice. I, as an individual, am responsible for my own decisions. It is absolutely ludicrous to try and force another individual to bend to my whims. Yet that is exactly what the same-sex marriage community is after.
Sexual preference has never been, and never should be, a legitimate protected class. Doing so will create numerous legal challenges against people who oppose, on whatever grounds, homosexual behavior. Churches will be targeted for refusing to marry homosexuals; employers will be sued for not hiring openly gay individuals; businesses will be targeted for not marketing to and catering towards the homosexual community. Whatever the issue and resulting consequences, this single decision to label the behavioral choice of sexual preference as a protected class will have long-term and far-reaching negative legal consequences for any and all who oppose same-sex marriage and homosexuality in general.