Chris Olson: Why I Voted "No" On The SB2279 Non-Discrimination Bill

Of the various reasons that led to my decision to vote no against SB2279, my most important reasoning falls largely outside the established range of “acceptable opinion”. However, it is a view of government that is not new, but is, rather, the classical and foundational view held by our nation’s fathers.

As a matter of principle, I hold that every individual has certain inalienable rights, which are not granted to them by the state, but are only recognized by the state. Because of this self-evident truth, our state has been constituted by The People for the protection and defense of these inalienable rights.

Among these rights are “those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property”, as declared and affirmed by the Constitution of North Dakota.

To understand this principle, it must be stated clearly that persons and property precede the existence of the legislator. He does not establish them, but, rather, they establish him along with a sworn duty to protect them. But, over time we have allowed our government to make a great confusion of this, as we have gone about to establish special rights beyond these, and in the process infringe upon those which are our natural rights.

We see that we have established special legal category groups which have been given special rights over those of the individual and his or her property. And so, with regularity we are expected to review and revise these categories as we attempt to “strike a balance” between these special group rights and those of individuals and property owners. And it seems that we can never find “just the right balance”, as we all saw this past Thursday.

That the Red Raven Espresso Parlor in Fargo has chosen to ban from its premises all those House members who voted against SB2279 is a perfect example of the proper, legal and free exercise of the rights of a private property owner. They have decided that we are not acceptable company, and we can peaceably part ways. This is justice. This is freedom. This is peace.

This is why the classical view of private property makes answering difficulties such as these so easy and clear. Private property resolves conflict after conflict and produces clear guidance for what is acceptable action in society. In a civilized society, an exchange takes place only if both parties want it to take place.

Freedom of speech, for example, is abridged by property. You do not have the right to say whatever you want on my property. You abide by my rules or you leave. To act otherwise would simply be an act of invasion and a violation of natural law.

And, though property owners might deny you access to their property, the state may not deny them the right to deny you. Again, this would be a form of invasion. Similarly, the state may not deny your right to speak on your own or some other permissive person’s property.

Here we see that there are rights that individuals and property owners have which the state does not. What we say to the state is that “while we give you these powers, here are those rights which you shall not infringe” Among these being, again, life, liberty and property.

That the Red Raven Espresso Parlor in Fargo has chosen to ban from its premises all those House members who voted against SB2279 is a perfect example of the proper, legal and free exercise of the rights of a private property owner. They have decided that we are not acceptable company, and we can peaceably part ways. This is justice. This is freedom. This is peace.

Does it matter why they deny me service? Whatever their intentions or reasons behind the denial, it does not change the simple fact that they do not wish to do business with me. Since this denial is not a crime, I fail to understand how their motives for it could suddenly make it one.

It would be an injustice for me to leverage the organized force of the state to compel the Red Raven to serve me in the name of my individual liberty. In like manner passage of SB2279 would have been an improper use of legislative power over the rights of the individual.

I understand that many fervently believe that the state should compel property owners and individuals to act “lovingly and benevolently” towards others. In fact, many Democrats who rose in support of SB2279 used the words of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Bible to convince us that this would be a proper use of state power.

But, as I said on the floor of the House, paraphrasing Frederic Bastiat, “to decree love (by a law) is to annihilate it.” We might compel men against their will to act in benevolently in matters such as these, but this will only serve to drive any dissent under the surface, to the detriment of society and our liberty.

Wouldn’t you rather know that a business owner or employer hates your guts? I know I would.

Additional reasons I voted against SB2279:
  • The special exemptions being granted in Section 3, Subsection 4 of the bill violate Article 1, Section 21 of the ND Constitution.
  • The scientific question of human sexuality and its deviation from the implicit design of heterosexual compatibility is not settled, and is therefore not a sufficient basis for public policy, no matter how loud or popular the propaganda to the contrary.
  • The religious and philosophical aspects of this debate are far from over. I believe it is far better for society to come to conclusions in matters like these on its own – rather than for the state to force them upon it with the hammer of the law. (pro-tip: society and “the government” are not the same!)

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