The following is an excerpt from a statement I released today concerning Governor Bob McDonnell’s recent “Executive Directive” regarding “sexual orientation.” For the full statement, including several examples of “sexual orientation” conflicting with religious liberty, click here. For a PDF of the entire statement, click here. Below, you will find links to sourced research studies, a legal analysis and an action item.
Response to Governor McDonnell’s Executive Directive No. 1
The reactions to Governor Bob McDonnell’s recent decision to issue an “Executive Directive” that includes “sexual orientation” as a protected class in his administration’s hiring decisions have been varied. While some, including the Commonwealth’s largest homosexual political group, Equality Virginia, who advocated for the policy change, have praised the Governor, they have also expressed disappointment that the Directive didn’t go far enough. Others have questioned why the Governor issued the Directive at all. Many are confused about its implications.
News outlets that increasingly have less print space for substance, only address the surface-level point of “discrimination.” It is not acceptable, however, for thoughtful, forward-looking policy organizations to limit their review of the Directive in this manner.
At issue is not, in fact, the simple question of whether the Directive’s undefined label of “sexual orientation” disqualifies one for a state job or requires special compensation/treatment in state employment. Instead, nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, whether enshrined in law or implemented through internal constructs, and regardless of their legal weight, highlight the inevitable and unavoidable clash between the unalienable fundamental right of religious liberty and the postmodern era of sexual freedom. It is a clash that isn’t taking place simply in the realm of ideas, but in courtrooms across the country, affecting the lives of everyday Americans. Potentially, there is no greater threat to our Constitutionally protected right of conscience, and as importantly the right to exercise our faith publicly, than that of the continued advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) “rights.”
And perhaps no one has put this battle more succinctly and honestly than respected Georgetown University Law professor, lesbian, LGBT activist and Obama nominee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Chai Feldblum, who stated:
There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases sexual liberty should win. I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.
Those who advocate for the advancement of sexual behavior protections in our law have little or no room for those who have religious convictions on those issues. In her paper, Moral Conflict and Liberty: Gay Rights and Religion, Feldblum, who authored the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), argues quite openly that it is the primary goal of the LGBT political movement to elevate (either through legislation or the courts) homosexual orientation to moral equivalence with heterosexual orientation and to do so at the cost of religious liberty.
She admits in her assessment of the clash that, “we are in a zero-sum game: a gain for one side necessarily entails a corresponding loss for the other side,” but “in making the decision in this zero-sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the [sexual] liberty of LGBT people.”
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In responding to Governor McDonnell’s Directive granting protection to LGBT people seeking employment or who are currently employed in his administration, Kent Willis of the ACLU takes Feldblum’s statements to their logical conclusion:
We hope this is only the beginning, and that the Governor’s example will inspire legislators to finally pass a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in both private and public sector employment. [Emphasis added]
Willis’ may be the most honest statement thus far. As both Willis and Feldblum clearly articulate, there is no religious liberty interest that can withstand the interest of LGBT people to self-identify and express their identity publicly.
» To contact the Governor and express your concerns about his decision, please click here.
» For more on the potential legal ramifications of Governor McDonnell’s Directive, click here for Alliance Defense Fund’s analysis.
» For more information on the impact of nondiscrimination policies on traditional marriage laws and amendments click here for a Heritage Foundation Backgrounder.
» For more information on the impact of same sex marriage on religious liberty click here for a Heritage Foundation Backgrounder.