On Human Rights

By Richard Nelson

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January 21, 2015

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Yesterday, the Commonwealth Policy Center conducted a meeting in Murray on the implications of elevating sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to civil rights status. The meeting was well attended with several local officials, pastors and concerned citizens. I noted that this is an issue that we did not go looking for. It was thrust upon the city by activists. We are simply responding. In order for civilization to happen, certain rules must be in place. Some basic rules are that there are two parts of humanity: male and female. Another rule is that the most basic relationship in society is marriage. Both gender and marriage have been redefined and civilization is worse off for it.  Blurring gender boundaries and promoting unfettered sexual autonomy doesn't help civilization, it threatens it. More people need to say this.

One reason they don't is because they are charged with bigotry. Nobody wants to be labeled a bigot. SOGI laws eventually criminalizes value judgments on gender, marriage and human sexuality. The laws have a chilling effect on employers who could be brought before local Human Rights Commissions for perceived sexual orientation discrimination. Religious liberty is also in jeopardy as we're seeing played out all across the country. There is clearly conflict and tension between individual religious liberty and sexual freedom, but only one is protected in the U.S. Constitution. In case you're not sure which one, let me help you out by saying that it's not sexual freedom.

The issue is no longer academic or theoretical. It's here and it’s forcing many to make tough decisions: business owners associated with the wedding industry (Baronelle Stutzman and Jack Phillips); child placement agencies and adoption services organizations (Catholic Charities of Rockford); public servants (Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran). It's worth noting that the restroom immediately next to our room on the campus of Murray State University was identified as a gender neutral restroom (see photo below). There was no real reason for this because it was a single use bathroom. But the sign sent a message. What about public schools that blur gender boundaries? What does the parent of a teenage girl on the volleyball team say when the transgendered boy joins the team and shares the same locker and showers? Tough decisions indeed.

Regardless of the emotional intensity of the issue, everyone must be careful and compassionate as they speak. Nobody should be mistreated, bullied, harassed or assaulted. When that happens, one should come to the aid of the person under attack. We should all be for upholding human rights. But that doesn’t mean young boys have the right to use restrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex.

Every person possesses dignity and each human being deserves respect as a human being.  However, disagreement on this policy issue does not equal discrimination. There are clear gender boundaries and they are for the good of society. Civilization demands certain standards of sexual conduct. Without them, we preclude the maximum possibility for success.

When Glenn Stanton was asked the question "Do you support gay rights?"  he unequivocally said "'no,'" because I wouldn't support Black rights, Asian rights, country people rights. And when we say that certain groups have particular rights because of this unique thing, then that becomes exceptionalism. I think the best place to operate from is human rights." Well said Mr. Stanton.
 


 

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center