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My view: Non-discrimination laws have a problem

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  • Ranch Here, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 6:42 a.m.

    "Being fair to all is a hallmark of Utahns."

    -- Really? Truly? Is that why Utah voted to prevent loving couples who don't meet the "Gold Standard" from marrying their SO?

    "... in favor of special rights for a few."

    -- Heterosexual is also a sexual orientation. Hence No "special rights for a few". In fact, EVERY human being has a "sexual orientation". Thus, ALL would be protected: not JUST the heterosexual.

    "These laws prioritize sexual rights over rights of conscience."

    -- When you discriminate against someone you have NO conscience.

    "The whole purpose of any non-discrimination law is to protect innocent people against discrimination, not to violate the rights of others."

    -- The whole purpose of this screed of an opinion piece is to "violate the rights of others".

    "It gives special rights to some people at the expense of other people. "

    -- A blatant lie. Again, ALL people would be covered.

    "Your kind not served here." What if the "your kind" were actually YOUR kind, Paul?

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    Dec. 11, 2013 7:05 a.m.

    My first thought: The LDS church supported orientation-based anti-discrimination legislation when it was proposed in Utah recently. If even the church could support it, what makes you think you need to oppose it?

    And as for that transgender-in-the-locker-room case that so horrified you, as the article clearly states, the problem was solved very simply with the installation of privacy curtains -- which, actually, the locker room should have already had in the first place. The true problem here was not the transgender student, but the poor design of the room.

    Despite your claims to the contrary, nobody wants "special" rights -- only EQUAL rights. And, no, respecting equal rights for the LGBT population is no more a challenge to conscience than respecting the rights of other races or religions -- something that has been legislated for decades, and a principle that is firmly ensconced in the US Constitution.

    It frequently amazes me how people could ignore the far-ranging consequences of adding a "conscience" exception to anti-discrimination laws. Can you honestly not see how that would end up gutting the laws entirely? How can anyone possibly be that blind?

  • GZE SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 7:21 a.m.

    I wish I could do gymnastics like Paul Mero. I would never wake up with a sore back again if I could twist and turn into a pretzel like that.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 7:50 a.m.

    "Being fair to all is a hallmark of Utahns."

    Hogwash. Utah's Amendment 3 is proof of the opposite.

    "Nineteen states now have laws offering same-sex marriage or civil unions...These laws prioritize sexual rights over rights of conscience."

    More hogwash. Those laws _genuinely_ express a state's commitment to equal constitutional protections to _all_ its citizens.

    "The fact is that the simple inclusion of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in Utah law challenges freedom of conscience and religion, and could subordinate those freedoms to sexual rights."

    Wrong on so many levels. What's being challenged is your presumption that the state exists to enforce your personal religious beliefs on others - even when your religious beliefs clearly violate the Equal Protection language of the US Constitution.

    "A statewide non-discrimination law on the basis of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” would inherently violate the rights of other people."

    Nonsense. This assertion has been tested in many courts, and every single time it has been examined objectively it disintegrates. Your rights are not jeopardized by marriage equality. You are not harmed in the slightest way.

    You have no right to expect the state to enforce your bigotry.

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 7:49 a.m.

    There are limits to "freedom of speech". Libel laws do exist for good reasons; you cannot yell "Fire!" in a theater just for the fun of it. Other rights are also abridged for reasons of safety, health and conflicting rights. But, those who advocate so-called sexual rights seem to have a problem with this.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    It does seem, with all that has been going on, as if "sex" has become the MOST important civil right. And in attempting to legislate/judge this issue it may end up being a "more equal" result. My fear is not so much in where we have come, but what battles the liberals will embark upon after this issue is resolved. I don't doubt that the exemptions given to any religious institutions will come under a full attack, sooner or later. The Hobby Lobby case in a good example of just the beginning of this. And to open another issue, since the Supreme Court will ultimately decide many of these cases, it matters more than ever who is sitting there. Democrats or Republicans. Let's face it, the Supreme Court is as much of a political appointment as any Cabinate post the President gets. So, these next two national elections are going to say the most about where we are going as a country.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Dec. 11, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    Nothing in the First Amendment says religion must be protected from discrimination by private businesses. When those who oppose anti-discrimination laws based on gender or sexual orientation also push to remove anti-discrimination laws based on religion, then they will have a leg to stand on.

    When you can be fired or kicked out of housing because of your religion or the number of kids you have, when you can be told not to use a locker room or to use a different locker room because of the way you dress, then I will believe that you oppose anti-discrimination laws because they infringe on rights of conscience.

    But as long as you enjoy the protections of anti-discrimination laws, denying that same protection to others is hypocritical.

    Everyone has a race, religion, ability, age, national origin, military service background - and sexual orientation. Either oppose them all or support them all. Stop this hypocritical hair splitting.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 9:11 a.m.

    The arguments employed in this piece are exactly the same as the arguments used against the Civil Rights Act and against inter-racial marriage.

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    Dec. 11, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    As a Mormon and someone who supports marriage equality as well as non-discrimination laws, it violates my conscience to know I may attend sacrament with people like Mr. Mero.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    The problem with "Non-discrimination laws" is.. they are discriminatory.

    If you are not in one of the protected groups... you don't get the same protections.

    In America we are guaranteed the right to "Equal Protection" under the law. That means we don't have special groups that get EXTRA protections.

    ---

    I know it would be nice if these groups didn't NEED extra protection. But I think the solution is to work on that (work on understanding and getting along so they don't need extra protection) rather than legislating that some groups have EXTRA rights, and EXTRA protections, that the rest of the population don't have.

    Just my opinion.

  • EDM Castle Valley, Utah
    Dec. 11, 2013 9:17 a.m.

    In other words, we should not have anti-discrimination laws because that would prevent people from discriminating in the name of faith or conscience.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    @happy2bhere;

    1) What has "sex" got to do with equal marriage rights? If you only married for sex, then you shouldn't have married in the first place because your marriage isn't going to last; especially if the "sex" goes away or slows down.

    2) "Equal" doesn't mean "more equal". Heterosexual is ALSO a sexual orientation.

    3) Hobby Lobby is NOT a person, it is a corporation and as such has no "religion" to violate.

    4) Religions already enjoy the First Amendment and won't be forced to do what they don't want to do.

    5) We, as a country, are moving in the direction of more equality, and away from superstitous nonsense. Personally, I find this to be a good thing.

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    Dec. 11, 2013 9:53 a.m.

    @2 bits --

    "If you are not in one of the protected groups... you don't get the same protections."

    That's baloney.

    EVERYONE is a member of those protected groups.

    Race is protected: you have a race. Nobody is allowed to discriminate against you because of your race.
    Gender is protected: you have a gender. Nobody is allowed to discriminate against you because of your gender.
    Age is protected: you have an age. Nobody is allowed to discriminate against you because of your age.
    Religion is protected: you have a religion. Nobody is allowed to discriminate against you because of your religion.

    And so on.

    And yes, you have an orientation too.

    EVERYONE is protected by anti-discrimination laws.

    Minorities want EQUAL rights -- not special rights.

  • isrred South Jordan, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 9:59 a.m.

    There is no "special right" created. Heterosexual persons and those with traditional gender would be protected just as equally. The bill prohibits based on ORIENTATION or Gender IDENTITY, not solely on if someone is gay or trans. Gay and straight are protected equally.

    The fact that you view this is as a "Special right" because a heterosexual person would never need such protections, just goes to show that you are incorrect about these laws not being needed.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 10:59 a.m.

    Mero: "Existing protections for race, national origin and disabilities make perfect sense because they don't violate the rights of other people."

    Mr. Mero might try spending some time sampling white supremacist websites, where racism and nationalism are enshrouded in religious justification. Likewise, many people devoutly believe that that a woman's role is ordained by God as mother and homemaker and that seeking employment outside the home is against God's will, so they don't hire women. That we find these minority views repugnant and backwards is immaterial. Antidiscrimination laws based on sex, race, and national origin DO infringe on the conscience rights of some people.

    A hypothetical: A Saudi immigrant owns a taxi company. He rejects female job applicants because his faith-informed cultural tradition prohibits women from driving and being unchaperoned in public. Does Mr. Mero side with the conscience rights of the company owner to make hiring decisions consistent with his religious beliefs or with the right of the female job applicants to be free of discrimination not related to their ability to do the job? If he sides with the women, how is this different than the "LGBT rights versus conscience rights" case?

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 12:57 p.m.

    To "Ranch" but you are wrong. Utah did not vote to "prevent loving couples who don't meet the "Gold Standard" from marrying their SO". They voted on a Utah constitutional ammenement that defines the legal definition of marriage.

    Gays are still free to find a willing minister or official to perform a marriage ceremony. They can do so without any fear of being arrested.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 1:40 p.m.

    RedShirt says:
    "To "Ranch" but you are wrong. Utah did not vote to "prevent loving couples who don't meet the "Gold Standard" from marrying their SO". They voted on a Utah constitutional ammenement that defines the legal definition of marriage."

    ---

    Which is effectively the same as voting to prevent loving couples from marrying the person of their choice, right? Restricting legal marriage to one set directly denies the right to legal marriage to the other set. Would there be any other reason to define marriage such as they did other than to restrict it to those who don't meet the definition's qualifications? Nope.

    A marriage without legal recognition is not the same as a marriage with legal recognition; and you know that.

  • QuercusQate Wasatch Co., UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 2:54 p.m.

    @RedShirt

    You are wrong, RedShirt. Here's the text of Utah's Amendment 3:

    1) Marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman.
    2) No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect.

    As you can see, there is a second clause in Amendment 3 which goes considerably further than establishing a definition of marriage. It spitefully sweeps the back of its hand across the faces of all gays and lesbians, specifically denying them ANY privileges and responsibilities of marriage.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 3:45 p.m.

    RedShirt: "Gays are still free to find a willing minister or official to perform a marriage ceremony. They can do so without any fear of being arrested."

    But what good is that? A marriage that is not legally recognized may provide some emotional or spiritual comfort to the couple, but does it get the couple any of the legal benefits of marriage? Can one spouse be added to the other's health insurance plan? Can they file joint tax returns? Do they have hospital visitation rights? Or survivor benefits? Sure, the couple can go through a wedding ceremony, but if they are not legally married it's a sham exercise.

    In your example, a gay couple won't be arrested simply for saying "I do" in front of a preacher, but don't they risk arrest for tax fraud if they act like a legally married couple and file a joint tax return?

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 4:16 p.m.

    To "Ranch" no, nobody is preventing them from being married to the person of their choice. The best example of this is the polygamists. They may have one marriage recognized by the state, but every time they add a wife they go through a marriage ceremony and are married to the person of their choice.

    In their minds, are the 2nd and 3rd wives any less married than the first?

    Don't call it "legal" marriage. Call it for what it is. Say it with me. The gays don't want marriage, they want the legal benefits of marriage.

    Now, if you want to redefine marriage to be any 2 people, are you prepared to support those that want to redefine marriage so that polygamy is legally recognized?

  • watchman Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 4:20 p.m.

    Mero makes a lot of sense to me and I might say it comes close to mirroring my feelings. His strongest argument is in his final paragraph in thata basic statewide non-discrimination law would give special rights to some people at the expense of other people, and I might add, could fill the courts with frivolous suits.

  • RFLASH Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 4:30 p.m.

    Everything this person had to say is one sided! If you are going to talk about freedom of religion, don't just think of yourself! Gay people have religion and faith like the rest of you! These anti discrimination laws are not made just for gay people! They would protect straight people as well! Oh! I guess you don't see too many people getting fired because they are straight,do you! I don't really understand how gay marriage takes away from others their right to believe whatever they want! I may not think two straight people should get married, does that give me the right to take it away from them?
    As far as the man sharing the shower with women, we don't have all the facts. It may be that the person has already changed herself physically! I like how people always have to point out some sexual innuendo. Mormons are good at that! To say that these laws take away the rights of others is a joke. They are laws that state " All people will be treated equal" Unfortunately many of you don't think so.

  • JWilkes Murray, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 4:59 p.m.

    I don't care if this legislation would allow people with two heads to have equal opportunity and access to housing and employment; it would still be the right thing to do. As long as anyone plays by the rules and does their job, they have a right to shelter and employment. Mero's argument is ridiculous, biased, and just...wrong.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 6:23 p.m.

    Yes, RedShirt, they HAVE one marriage recognized. That's all we're asking; One marriage recognized by the government.

    @watchman;

    "...that a basic statewide non-discrimination law would give special rights to some people at the expense of other people..."

    Nope. No. It. Wouldn't. Not in the least. That is a flat-out, bald-faced lie.

    Heterosexual IS also a sexual orientation, which means that YOU, a heterosexual, would ALSO be covered by the non-discrimination law.

    @RFLASH;

    Your religious beliefs don't matter to them because they're not in-line with their own beliefs, which are the only ones that really matter, as they're the only "true" beliefs.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Dec. 11, 2013 6:57 p.m.

    @ watchman: Actually, no - non-discrimination laws do not fill the courts with frivolous lawsuits. All they do is provide an avenue for a redress of grievances.

    @ Redshirt: This is a discussion about anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation and gender. If you would like to have a discussion about polygamy, please feel free to write a letter to the editor or "My View" piece on that subject. In the meantime, please try to stay focused and on topic.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Dec. 12, 2013 11:02 a.m.

    To "RanchHand" then tell us, what are gays fighting for. Are they fighting for marriage or are they fighting for legal benefits?

    If they are just fighting for the legal benefits, then let them be honest and say so. Why do they hide behind the guise of marriage, when all they want are benefits?

    To "Kalindra" but you have to include polygamy in the discussion once things talk about gay marriage. If you can redefine marriage for one group, why can't you again redefine it for another? Yes the original article was on gender identity, but Ranch brought up gay marriage. Why only go after me, unless what I say makes you uncomfortable?

  • Contrariuserer mid-state, TN
    Dec. 12, 2013 11:35 a.m.

    @Redshirt --

    " If you can redefine marriage for one group, why can't you again redefine it for another? "

    Here we go again.

    Look up the "harm principle". An increased risk of harm to others has always been a legitimate legal reason for restricting personal freedoms.

    The short version -- polygamy and incest convey a significantly increased risk of harm to others, compared to other forms of marriage. Therefore it is in the interest of our government to keep them illegal.

    Gay marriage does NOT convey a significantly increased risk of harm to others, compared to other forms of marriage. Therefore there is no excuse for government to keep it illegal.

    "...the constitutional right to marry properly must be interpreted to apply to gay individuals and gay couples (but) does not mean that this constitutional right similarly must be understood to extend to polygamous or incestuous relationships....the state continues to have a strong and adequate justification for refusing to officially sanction polygamous or incestuous relationships because of their potentially detrimental effect on a sound family environment. ..."

    In re Marriage Cases, slip op. at n. 52, 79-80.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Dec. 12, 2013 12:40 p.m.

    @RedShirt;

    The two, marriage and the legal benefits are the same thing. We're fighting to have our families recognized as equal to yours. We're fighting to have the legal benefits that come with legal recognition (marriage) of a family.

    You're trying to split hairs. Why do you oppose equal treatment of your fellow Americans?

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 12, 2013 6:37 p.m.

    @Contrariuserer

    "The short version -- polygamy and incest convey a significantly increased risk of harm to others, compared to other forms of marriage. Therefore it is in the interest of our government to keep them illegal."

    ---------

    You are basically making the same argument against polygamy that many people do against gay marriage. I am quite sure the polygamy supporters would disagree that their marriage is harmful.

    Hence the double standard that RedShirt has pointed out.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Dec. 12, 2013 10:24 p.m.

    @ Redshirt: Sorry it took me so long to get back to you.

    There is a key difference between polygamy and other forms of marriage - the number of people involved and how that impacts the legal rights and benefits of marriage. Same sex marriage is still just two people, the gender of the parties does not affect how things are divided. Polygamy is three or more - which has a huge impact on division. Survivor benefits - one person dies, the one person who is still alive gets the benefits. How does this work if there are multiple people still alive? Is it equally divided or is it based on number of children or length of relationship? If one spouse is unable to make medical decisions, who gets to do it? What if there is a disagreement? How do income taxes work? How do divorce, custody, child support, visitation, and remarriage work? Does employer family insurance cover all spouses and children or just one set? How do you ensure the individual rights of all the participants are not being violated?

    These and similar issues are why same sex marriage and polygamy are two different discussions.

  • ErSan Brownsville, TX
    Dec. 13, 2013 6:07 a.m.

    LGBT nondiscrimination grants a badge of civic invincibility to them, serving as an all-access pass for getting intrusive, gay-affirming mandates into local schools, workplace, and government.

    These ordinances function less as a shield against bias, but more as a SWORD for inflicting damage on their critics. Such provisions codify anti-Christian bias into law, and foster an oppressive climate of political correctness where everyone has to defer to the gays and the political stranglehold afforded to them by such legislation. This is their modus operandi - I've seen it time and time again:

    "we demand more than simple legal equality -- we demand LGBT-affirming education in all of the nation's public schools." -from the front page of the gay liberation network, a highly influential gay activist organization

    The push for local nondiscrimination is by a feverishly-driven army of counter-constitutional, tyrannical revolutionaries that are drunk with power. "Implacable militancy", one observer noted in them.

    Their stated rationale is emotive and superficially-coherent, but one must posses the discernment to see past this shrewd victim-mongering to recognize their true goals.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Dec. 13, 2013 7:58 a.m.

    To "Kalindra" but they love eachother, and want to married. Why do you not want to be fair to them and let them be married also?

    If we can change the definition of marriage for the gays, why can't we change the definition for the polygamists?

    Those are some good questions about logistics, but the function of each wife within the relationship should be up to the family. As for legal issues, that is up to the courts to figure out.

    The big question is why do you not want to be fair? It is unfair to change the definition for one group and not another. I thought liberals want to be fair to everybody, I guess you only want to be fair to some people.

  • Contrariusiest mid-state, TN
    Dec. 13, 2013 8:22 a.m.

    @Redshirt1701 --

    "If we can change the definition of marriage for the gays, why can't we change the definition for the polygamists?"

    Here we go again.

    Look up the "harm principle".

    "As for legal issues, that is up to the courts to figure out."

    Speaking of courts:

    "...the constitutional right to marry properly must be interpreted to apply to gay individuals and gay couples (but) does not mean that this constitutional right similarly must be understood to extend to polygamous or incestuous relationships....the state continues to have a strong and adequate justification for refusing to officially sanction polygamous or incestuous relationships because of their potentially detrimental effect on a sound family environment. ..."

    In re Marriage Cases, slip op. at n. 52, 79-80.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Dec. 13, 2013 9:31 a.m.

    To "Contrariusiest" so what you are saying is that you don't want to be fair to the polygamists. All because 2 groups are abusive? Just because FLDS and Muslims abuse plural wives, you are going to be unfair and have unequal treatment for those that want to practice polygamy.

    That is like banning alcohol because drug addicts and alcoholics cause more harm to society than everybody else.

    Look up Fairness and Equality, which you are going to deny them.

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    Dec. 13, 2013 10:22 a.m.

    @Redshirt1701 --

    "so what you are saying is that you don't want to be fair to the polygamists. All because 2 groups are abusive? "

    Preventing harm is not "unfair". It is not unfair to prevent drunk drivers from driving.

    Personal liberties are always limited by the risk of harm to others.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Dec. 13, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    @ Redshirt: Figuring out the logistics is part of the process of ensuring polygamous marriages are fair and equitable - and until those logistics are figured out, marriages with multiple partners will not be equitable with two person marriages. There is nothing prejudicial about recognizing that fact. Same sex marriages present no such logistical stumbling blocks.

    Once the legal logistical issues are resolved, there would be no reason not to legalize polygamy - but the logistical issues make it more complicated which makes it a different discussion. Achieving equity and fairness for polygamists is not the same process as achieving equity and fairness for same sex couples.

    If you are truly interested in legalizing polygamy, why don't you start working on the logistics instead of pretending they don't exist? And keep in mind, it won't just be Adam and his five wives - it will also be Eve and her five husbands as well as Lilith and her five spouses of assorted genders.

    There are very clear legal differences between two and three or more that affect "fairness".

  • RBB Sandy, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 1:04 a.m.

    That everyone is protected is simply untrue. Orson Scott Card expressed his opinion (consistent with the religious beliefs of a large part of the country) that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Despite there being no evidence that he ever discriminated against anyone, the movie based on his book was then threatened with boycotts simply because he expressed his religious beliefs. Dr. Laura was routinely threatened with boycotts for statements she made (consistent with her religious beliefs) which various liberal groups disagreed with. I have heard numerous business people in Utah say they would not do business with a Mormon, but those same people would be incensed if some said they would not do business with a Jew or a Muslim. People are opposed to discrimination when it cuts against them, but have no problem with it if it furthers their goals.

    Here is a radical idea - how about freedom. Allow people to make their own decisions. It is there property. I will gladly support your right to discriminate against others regarding your property - even if it against me. Once the government gets involved, anti-discrimination laws become weapons.

  • Contrariusier mid-state, TN
    Dec. 15, 2013 11:15 a.m.

    @RBB --

    "Despite there being no evidence that he ever discriminated against anyone, the movie based on his book was then threatened with boycotts simply because he expressed his religious beliefs."

    The National Organization for Marriage currently has TWO boycotts running, against businesses with pro-gay policies. Why is it okay for NOM to boycott, but not for everyone else?

    Boycotts are not a violation of anti-discrimination laws. They are the power of the marketplace at work.