The Right to Exclude Gays: The Supreme Court’s Decision
Yesterday (June 28) the Supreme Court voted to support the University of California Hastings College of the Law when it determined that if you accept public money and utilize public facilities you cannot discriminate against gays because that is against current laws prohibiting discrimination.
In 2004 the Christian Legal Society established a chapter at the U.C. law school that required members to swear “unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle,” which it defined as sex outside heterosexual marriage. So, presumably, every member is either married or a virgin, and is most definitely straight.
Two thoughts to clear this up:
(1). If you want to discriminate against people whose beliefs, ideas, or nature you don’t like, you are free to do so with your own money. You cannot take Other People’s Money (OPM) and expect no strings to be attached, especially when it is public money. So, by all means, the Christian Legal Society should have the right to exclude anyone they like from their club, including gays, Jews, blacks, atheists, Muslims, and Elvis impersonators, as long as they rent their own facility and pay for it with their own private money. It’s that simple.
(2). It isn’t that simple, because just last month in the run-up to the primary elections, the Republican Senate candidate from Kentucky, Rand Paul, found himself in a heap of hot water when he argued that the civil rights movement did not really need the support of the Federal government, that private businesses should be allowed to discriminate against whomever they like, as abhorrent as such discrimination is. Here is what he said on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC when the host asked him, “Do you think that a private business has the right to say ‘we don’t serve black people’?”:
“I’m not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. We still do have private clubs in America that can discriminate based on race. But I think what’s important about this debate is not written into any specific ‘gotcha’ on this, but asking the question: What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? . . . I don’t want to be associated with those people, but I also don’t want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that’s one of the things freedom requires.”
Paul then backpedaled faster than Lance Armstrong front-pedals:
“Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.”
Question: why is it acceptable for a private Christian group to discriminate against gays as long as they do not use public money or publicly-owned facilities, but it is unacceptable—blatantly illegal in fact—for a private restaurant to discriminate against blacks? Can we have some consistency here?