Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why we oppose ENDA

Equality is a buzzword in LGBT circles nowadays. At Outright, we support equality under the law, which is why we are vocal proponents of equal marriage, adoption, and military service. All three of these are institutions that straight people enjoy, but LGBT people are excluded from by government.

Though when it comes to ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), the rallying cry logically cannot be equality, since gay people have equal rights to fire straight people, just as straight people can fire gay people. So, instead of equality, the best possible argument for ENDA is fairness.

Unfortunately, no matter how good the intentions, government attempts at subverting the free market in the pursuit of fairness always result in dismal failure. This is something that Libertarians have known for a long time (and something Republicans used to know several decades ago). What we understand is that life is fundamentally not fair, but that the free market gets us a whole lot closer to fairness than any government construct ever could. For this reason, we oppose government interference in private affairs, even when the intended outcome is something as high-minded and laudable as fairness. The best we can hope for from government is that government itself not discriminate. It is inherently incapable of doing any better than that.

So, once again, we're back to the goal of ending discrimination by government. At best, ENDA is a distraction from this goal, providing political cover for politicians who oppose true equal rights for LGBT people in marriage, adoption, and military service. And, at worst, ENDA is itself an attack on equal treatment under the law, since no matter how such laws are written, the courts always interpret them as only favoring minority groups, and never majority groups.

Our community is so very close to true equal rights under the law. We can't afford to be distracted by special rights laws like ENDA and MSA (the "hate crimes" law), which actually subvert the goal of equal rights under the law. That's why we oppose ENDA, and why you should, too.