Natural Allies: Gender and Sexual Minorities

Introduction to Natural Allies

This is the first of a series of posts on “natural allies”  — that is to say, people or groups who face struggles aligned with the struggles of community rights.  We seek to collect stories that demonstrate how the current system (and current thinking about that system) acts to violate the various inherent, inalienable rights of persons, communities or nature to create a broad foundation and for systemic change to elevate and protect inherent rights.

Background

Someone mentioned in our last meeting that we need to start collecting stories about how our work is relevant to others, and how the current structure of law and thinking about it frustrates efforts to protect the rights of nature, people and places.
I came across the below news article randomly and thought it served as a great example of how current thinking about claimed “business rights” can so easily alienate and violate the rights of persons, as well as how our work will ultimately protect and reinforce the rights of such people.

Update:  Consider the below analysis in the context of the Add the Words campaign:

http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/02/03/3006687/add-the-words-protestors-blocking.html

Monday’s protest targeted the fact that nothing in Idaho statutes prevents a citizen from being fired or blocked from buying or renting a home based on his or her sexual orientation. There’s no federal law offering specific workplace protections based on sexual orientation, either.

Analysis

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/04/owners_anti-gay_views_cause_fu.html

Recently, neighbors found Facebook postings by owner Chauncy Childs that brought them up short. She wrote a long post about her opposition to same-sex marriage, complaining that “a tiny minority is dictating a change of our social structure.” She also posted an article, written by someone else, supporting the right of businesses to refuse to serve gay people.

Businesses do not have rights — they are not people.  People have rights.

Childs said she is religious and has a libertarian view that government should not be allowed to dictate whom a business does or doesn’t serve.

The government exists to protect the rights of people, for example, against discrimination based on race, gender and sexuality.  It does not exist to support the imaginary right of a business to arbitrarily discriminate in who it serves — doing so would constitute a direct attack on liberty and freedom.  No one has a “right” to violate the rights of others.

“We’re not going to refuse to serve anybody,” she said. “But we believe a private business should have the right to live their conscience.”

Private businesses do not have consciences or rights, they are not people.  People have consciences and rights.  Private businesses are legal fictions designed specifically for public service.  People have the right to hold any views they want, as long as those views do not include actions which infringe on the rights of others (such as advocating for discriminatory service policies based on sexuality).

Conclusion

Chauncy Childs’ arguments represent a strain of thought that grants privileges to fictional entities allowing them to violate the inherent rights of persons (and probably communities and nature).  Much of the education work involved in the Community Rights movement relates to debunking false, illogical or erroneous thinking about where and how rights originate and apply.  The core message was summed up in a June 1919 Harvard Law Review article by legal philosopher Zechariah Chafee, Jr. titled “Freedom of Speech in War Time” (quoting a judge)

Each side takes the position of the man who was arrested for swinging his arms and hitting another in the nose, and asked the judge if he did not have a right to swing his arms in a free country. “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.”

Childs also claims to be a “libertarian” but I know of no libertarian doctrine that allows or justifies the violation of inherent rights.  Her version of “libertarianism” would create a class or even caste of people who retain legal superiority over others, and for what arbitrary reason?  Because she owns a business and feels threatened by a group of people asking for the same rights as everyone else.  As a result, her thinking is more “anti-libertarian” and more “social conservative” in that she clearly states her wish for government to allow her the privilege of discriminating against others.

I see two possible synergies in this situation:

  1. Through education, we can debunk the type of erroneous thinking that leads people to believe they have a “right” to violate the inherent, inalienable rights of others.
  2. Through work to strengthen legal recognition of and protection for the inherent rights of persons, communities and nature, including the breaking of any laws that allow or even mandate discrimination.
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