According to Reuters, the socially conservative American Family Association is calling for a boycott of Target stores after the retail chain announced that they would allow transgendered employees and customers to use the bathroom corresponding to their identified gender.
This is a fantastically stupid thing for social conservatives to do. In fact, it’s hypocritical.
Let’s hit the rewind button and go back a few years to the big debate over state laws which made it illegal for wedding photographers or cake bakers to refuse to work at a gay wedding. Social conservatives, correctly I think, stood up for the right of private business owners to conduct their businesses in accordance with their beliefs.
But now social conservatives want to punish Target, a private business, for setting a policy at their businesses which is in accordance with the company’s philosophy.
The two situations aren’t exactly the same. With the wedding photographers and cake bakers we were talking about actual laws which removed from private businesses their freedom of association.
With the bathroom policy, the AFA is calling for citizens to simply choose not to shop at Target, a personal choice any one of us is free to make.
But that distinction is probably lost on the greater public who is watching this debate. I think it’s fair to say that, in the eyes of the public, social conservatives are undermining their own argument about the freedom of private businesses to conduct their business in accordance with their conscience.
There is also likely a pretty big overlap between the AFA’s constituency and people supportive of laws which would mandate the bathroom policy of private companies like Target.
When it comes to government facilities – schools, state parks, highway rest areas, etc. – we’re going to have to figure out a way to make sure everybody has facilities available so they can relieve themselves while feeling safe and secure.
But in the private sector? Let the business owners/property owners decide.
In related news, if you’re wondering where North Dakota’s gubernatorial candidates are on this issue, here you go.