Making LGBT a Protected Class Will Kill Religious Liberty

By T.R. Clancy

The current campaign to amend federal and state civil rights laws to extend protections to sexual orientation and gender identity isn’t meant to eliminate discrimination — it’s meant to eliminate religious freedom.

What else are we to believe when proponents of such amendments tell us as much?

Earlier this month, Michigan State Senator Jeremy Moss introduced legislation to amend the state’s civil rights law to add sexual orientation and sexual identity as protected classes.  One of the main objections to changing the law before now has been the harm it must do to conscience protections and the free exercise of religion.  Like their federal cousin, the Equality Act, these laws can’t ensure equality because, as gay writer Brad Polumbo explains, they work by “elevating [LGBT] rights over those of religious Americans.”

Senator Moss isn’t even pretending this isn’t the case.  As reported in the Oakland Press, Moss said:

[T]he legislation will not make exceptions for those whose religious beliefs condemn homosexuality and other lifestyles[.] … That would mean, for example, that a Catholic school that teaches against homosexuality could not discriminate against a homosexual job applicant on the basis of sexual orientation.

None of this bothers Moss, who “says he is gay as well as a practicing Jew,” and doesn’t see what the problem is.  He “knows plenty of rabbis and other religious leaders who support the legislation.”  Besides, believers who don’t see it his way just don’t understand the Bible, or their own faith: “A few passages in the Old Testament (teaching against homosexuality) don’t give people the right to discriminate. I don’t believe there is a conflict between religious values and treating everyone fairly.”

And if it turns out there is a conflict between Moss’s ideas about “treating everyone fairly” and someone’s religious values, then we’ll just ignore the religious values. As David Harsanyi recently noted at The Federalist, “compelling the right kind of speech no longer seems a bothersome prospect to most progressives. Any neutral principles that are inherent in the First Amendment have long been discarded for more pressing matters of social justice.”  How else could Moss write a law that forces a Catholic school principal to hire a homosexual teacher whose lifestyle contradicts Catholic teaching, and forces a Christian baker to design a cake with a message the baker considers sinful?

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It would also mean that, as is already happening in states that include gender identity as a protected class, Catholic hospitals could be sued “for ‘discrimination’ on the basis of gender identity because they wouldn’t perform sex-change surgeries for patients with gender dysphoria.”

The Supreme Court of British Columbia applied similar gender equality dogma when it “declared a father guilty of family violence for his polite refusal to refer to his 14-year old daughter as a boy in private, and his repeated choice to affirm in media interviews that she is a girl.”  The judge went so far as to order the father’s immediate arrest by any B.C. cop who merely suspects him of referring to his daughter  as a girl — anywhere in public or private — including uttering her birth name.  And, “[p]oliticizing the medical treatment of gender dysphoria could lead to more prosecutions against parents who refuse to aid in the sterilization of their children,” as happened recently in Ohio, and they haven’t even added gender orientation to their civil rights law — yet.  The Ohio judge took into account that the parents’ unwillingness that their daughter undergo hormone treatments that will sterilize her “was based at least in part on [the parents’] Christian beliefs.”

What if their objections were based in part on their Christian beliefs?  Wouldn’t most atheist parents react the same?  Or are we supposed to believe that only parents who recite the Apostles’ Creed or believe in the story of Adam and Eve would think of standing in the way of their daughter being robbed of all possibility of motherhood through some insane experiment that will never turn her into a boy?

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The amount of irrationality needed to justify the normalizing of homosexuality and transgenderism is leading to the astonishing result that it’s the religious believers, and not the agnostic scientists, who are inheriting the guardianship of empirical reality.  Far-fetched as some people may find the story of Noah’s Ark or the doctrine of the Last Judgment, those of us who believe these things are still perfectly capable of recognizing nature and the laws of nature for what they are here on Earth.  We’re not the ones, in other words, who believe that little girls are regularly being born trapped inside the bodies of little boys, or that a man can change himself into a woman, or that a pregnant woman can transform the living being inside her from a human into a disposable appendage, just by choosing it to be so.  Whatever the source of these fables — self-serving metaphysics or the devil in hell — it isn’t science.

It’s taken a special kind of intellectual breakdown for our society to blind itself to visible concrete realities for the sake of invisible and imaginary ones.  Maybe 40 years of rationalizing the slaughter of the unborn with the antiscientific lie that we don’t know when a human life begins made it an easy lie to tell that a man can be made into a woman by means of hormone injections and surgical mutilations.

While judges, politicians, celebrities, academics, doctors, and psychotherapists are repeating these lies, it’s been left to religious believers to withstand them.  The Catholic Church just released educational guidelines (50 years late, but better late than never) that state unequivocally that male-female sexuality is a “given natural or biological fact.”  In the UK it was Muslim parents who put a stop to a school program in which their “[c]hildren are being told it’s OK to be gay.”

And again, though the motivations of the British Muslims and Christian parents are in part religious, they’re not doing these things to force acceptance of a creed on someone else, just the recognition of natural facts: our daughter is not a boy; homosexuality is not normal.  Last month Pope Francis rejected the notion that being pro-life is a religious position, arguing that abortion is a “pre-religious problem” that “existed long before Catholicism”: “Do not blame religion for something that concerns the human,” he said.  “It is not lawful.  Never, ever eliminate a human life or hire a hitman to solve a problem.”

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Even when we call our hitmen “doctors,” and the murders they commit “health care.” Or castration “gender transitioning.”

When the old progressives attacked religion, they mistakenly saw themselves as defending modern science from primitive superstitions.  Matthew Arnold rejected miracles outright, and called for a critical effort, “in all branches of knowledge, theology, philosophy, history, art, science, to see the object as in itself it really is.”  But the last thing today’s progressives are willing to tolerate is anyone pointing out the object as in itself it really is.  Our best-educated professors, lawyers, and doctors refuse to permit an unborn child to be referred to as a human baby, his bearer as a mother, or a gender dysphoric teenaged “transgendered male” as exactly what she is: a girl.  Today’s war on religious liberty isn’t being waged by clear-eyed progressives against bitter clingers determined to force their dark superstitions on the nation; it’s being waged by a radical clerisy properly terrified that their counterfeit science is being exposed — including by clear-eyed believers — as the superstitious mumbo-jumbo that it is.

As Senator Moss’s blatant disregard for religious liberty puts beyond doubt, the push to re-define LGBT status as a protected class isn’t about expanding freedoms for LGBT people: it’s about taking away the freedoms of religious believers who refuse to deny what we all know about the facts of life.

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