Re: This Is Not a Right, Just a Wrong

by Charles C. W. Cooke

Maggie Gallagher suggests that:

Religious liberty does not extend to a cop refusing to protect Gay Pride parade-goers. That is just wrong. 

Indeed. Or, rather, it’s “right.” Cops cannot do this. 

As usual, there is a distinction to be drawn between private businesses and the government. This officer was an employee of the state. Per AP:

A Salt Lake City police officer has been placed on leave after refusing an assignment to work at a gay pride parade Sunday.

Department spokeswoman Lara Jones says the officer was among about 30 officers assigned to provide traffic control and security for the annual Utah Pride Parade in Salt Lake City.

She says the department does not tolerate bias and bigotry, and it does not allow personal beliefs to enter into whether an officer will accept an assignment.

This is pretty simple. If your salary is paid for by taxpayers, you don’t get to decide for which of them you will work. Firefighters cannot opt out of putting out fires if the house is owned by an atheist or a gay couple or a family with particular religious or political views. The DMV cannot decide that it will not serve tall people who, like everybody else, are forced to use it. The president of the United States cannot refuse to execute the laws if he likes or doesn’t like those they will affect. And the police cannot refuse to protect the KKK or a gay pride parade. If one is forced to use and fund a service, it needs to have rules that treat everybody equally. Don’t like it? Don’t take a job with the government.

The argument in favor of ironclad conscience protections in the private sector is clear. I myself am a staunch advocate of it. But it is nonsensical to apply it to the public sector. This matters. Let’s not get confused.

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