“Discrimination is not a North Dakota value,” states an opinion column published in the Grand Forks Herald today and written by Rep. Josh Boschee and Senator Carolyn Nelson.
But if that statement is true, why does the legislation they’re touting provide exemptions for some forms of discrimination?
Both are Democrats from Fargo and the prime sponsors of SB2279, the most recent iteration of legislation to prohibit discrimination against gays. The law addresses discrimination in areas like employment, housing, and providing public services (like, say, the bakers in Oregon who just got fined $150,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding).
The law also provides exemptions. Here’s a screenshot from the bill:
So discrimination is not a North Dakota value, unless you’re discriminating for religious reasons?
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]My argument is not to remove the exemption for the religious – I’m glad it’s there – but rather to keep all people exempted from having to obey legislated values.[/mks_pullquote]
This is where the left-wing reasoning behind policies like SB2279 falls apart. I abhor the idea of discriminating against gays. But I also dislike the idea of imposing, through the force of the state, certain values on my fellow citizens. No doubt the proponents of SB2279 feel the same way, given the above exemptions, or at least they acknowledge that enough of their fellow lawmakers feel that way as to require the provision to make the legislation more politically palatable.
But if we’re recognize that it’s not right to impose these values on those with strong religious convictions, shouldn’t we recognize that it’s not right to impose these values on anyone whether their convictions are religious or not?
My argument is not to remove the exemption for the religious – I’m glad it’s there – but rather to keep all people exempted from having to obey legislated values. Archaic laws banning homosexual relations were (and are where they still exist) repugnant. But equally repugnant is laws imposing acceptance of homosexuality on the unwilling, how ever backward I or anyone else may find their feelings.
I don’t think any human being should be obligated to serve another human being whatever their reasons for objecting. I may find it disgusting and crude and hurtful for a baker to refuse to bake a cake for a homosexual marriage, but why should my views control their actions?
The motivations of policies like SB2279 are pure. I understand the desire to stop discrimination against gays (though I’m not certain it’s nearly as widespread a problem as the proponents of this legislation claim). But I’d rather people chose to stop discriminating, rather than be forced by law.
The former is a path to a more tranquil and agreeable sort of society. The latter, I’m afraid, is a path towards polarization and resentment.
The power of the state is mighty. We ought to be more selective in how we wield it.