Most of us, even masochists, surround ourselves with people who respect us and support us. Not all of them will be like-minded but they will, generally, not denigrate us to our faces.
That’s why it can be such a shock to hear the voices of our enemies, as they spout lies in their testimony against laws that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender non-conforming adults from bias and discrimination.
It is a slap in the face when they don’t bother to sugar coat their hate. If you want to hear them in their own words, pull up the footage of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in House Bill 85 (The Louisiana Fair Employment Act). Click here for the video archive for the May 1st hearing of House and Governmental Affairs. House Bill 85 was the last item on the agenda, so listen to the end.
The representatives from the Louisiana Family Forum and Jefferson Baptist Church, who had nothing to say about why or how our society is made better when a portion of the people are bullied or fired at work, talked a lot about how LGBT activists were seeking special rights that, if passed, would lead to laws discriminating against Christians. They spoke passionately to justify their morality and patriotism and to denigrate ours.
At heart, their argument was one of loss – if the LGBT community was no longer discriminated against, then someone else would have to be. To them it is a zero sum game – for every winner, there is a loser.
That is the main difference between our positions. We understand that equality is not a scarcity and that rights for the LGBT community does not mean less rights for them. For LGBT people to gain the power of having employment decisions based on their skills, qualifications and capacity to contribute, straight people will not lose any power whatsoever (other than the power to discriminate).
We are emphatically not fighting for special rights. The right to work is not a “special” right and that is why our nation already has laws protecting against many forms of discrimination including race, religion, gender, disability and national origin. Employment non-discrimination simply puts LGBT workers on the same footing as everyone else, so they don’t have to live in fear that they can be legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.
The other side seems unable to make their case without resorting to lies. As an example, the Louisiana Family Forum sent out an eblast claiming that passing the law would create a “target rich environment for lawsuits.” Experience has shown that there simply has not been a notable increase in litigation in states with laws which protect LGBT workers.
Inequality carries a price, not just to the people prevented from reaching their full potential but also a cost in lost production and wasted human capital. Economic growth is best promoted by making full use of the country’s considerable workforce, not just the straight, gender conforming ones.
But the biggest thing you learn from listening to our opponents?
That they do not have a single, credible reason to deny equal rights to LGBT people.
Someday soon, our elected officials will realize that, too.