Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hate Crimes/ENDA Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts examining why Outright (and other Libertarians) are taking a stance against the ENDA and "hate crimes" bills being presently debated in the hallowed halls of the Capitol.

If you were coming here seeking the Republican/Democratic spin on the issue, and nothing further, here you go: Libertarians are horrible, self-loathing people who want gays to be beaten in the streets and who want no gay person to have a job. (I'm sure there are other clich├ęs and various insults that I've overlooked, but I figured short and simple is best.)

If you want the real story, here it is.

Gay people in America are at a crossroads. Over the next 20 years, we will have a tremendous opportunity to create change. But first, we have to decide what we want.

Do we want equality or do we want special treatment?

Outright Libertarians advocates equality under the law. We want gay families to have the same privileges, rights and responsibilities that the law accords heterosexual families. We want gay people to be able to start businesses, own bank accounts, and browse the internet without being snooped on by federal agents overstepping their constitutional bounds. We want gay people to be able to live and love without fear of government (or private citizen) assault. We support law enforcement in its efforts to crack down on violent crime, including violent crime against LGBT people. We stand strong (and virtually alone) in our campaign to reform the immigration system so that LGBT Americans can sponsor their foreign spouses for residency -- and so that foreign nationals facing prison, torture or death can find a new free life in America.

We want all people -- including gay people -- to receive the full, equal protection of the law, as the equal protection clause in the US Constitution requires.

Seems reasonable, right?
more . . .
Not so to a large portion of Washington's unelected, unaccountable gay lobby. HRC, NGLTF, Log Cabin Republicans, and Stonewall Democrats are pushing for special treatment for gay people instead (even while borrowing the language of "equality.")

They want laws that make assaulting gay people "more" of a crime than assaulting straight people, and dubbing only the attack on the gay person as "motivated by hate." That's not equality -- that's elevating gay people above others. And we think that's just plain wrong.

They want laws that move gay people into a special class that is more difficult to terminate (and hire) through laws like ENDA. That's not equality -- once again, that's elevating gay people above others. And we think that's just plain wrong.

Advocates of special status for us are quite crafty in their rhetoric -- their guile is truly unmatched in contemporary politics. They point out instances of other groups that have achieved special status under the law, and encourage us to join them. They present cases of hate crimes that are unsolved, and talk as though Matthew Shepard's killers are walking the streets free rather than rotting in jail. They attack critics as self-loathing dinosaurs, bigots, evil, and hateful.

There's just one problem. No matter how many personal attacks, distortions, and big-money lobby dollars are thrown at special status for gays, there's no getting around the fact that special status is special status -- not equality.

Outright Libertarians (and Libertarians in general) understand that once real equality falls off the radar screen, so does progress for our community.

Once we've established that special status (and corresponding "inferior status") is OK, how can we push for marriage equality? After all, if heterosexual people are less deserving of the protection of the law due to "hate crimes" legislation, why shouldn't gay people be less deserving of the protection of the law due to "tradition?"

Once we've established that special status (and corresponding "inferior status") is OK, how can we push for immigration equality? After all, gays already get "special protection" through ENDA. Why should society go further?

Once we've established that special status (and corresponding "inferior status") is OK, how can we push for tax treatment equality? After all, now that gay people are a special class with special protections, shouldn't they have to pay higher taxes for fewer government "services" to compensate "the system" for the costs of "hate crime" prosecutions and enforcement?

See where this could easily go?

In addition, the political process in Washington will ensure that this is the last "gay legislation" considered for 5 to 10 years. With a "major bill" passed on gay issues, Democrats will tell their loyal followers at NGLTF and HRC to sit down and shut up and stop rocking the boat.

We expect they'll happily do so -- and that 20 years from now, "hate crimes laws," ENDA and civil unions in a handful of states will be all we have as a result of the equal protection clause being so thoroughly undermined.

So while we're taking our lumps from the usual suspects, you can count on us to keep fighting for what's right. The stakes are too high not to.

Next edition: Why hate crimes laws don't work.