Politics & Policy

Thanks, Human Rights Campaign

(Daniel Raustadt/Dreamstime)
New legislation in Utah contains important free-speech protections for both sides.

The Utah compromise contains way too much legalese for me to comprehensively evaluate it today. But reading the bill, and the response to it from the gay-rights establishment, leads me to say, sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, something I never expected to say: Thanks, Human Rights Campaign.

As readers of this column know, I have become increasingly concerned by the threats to the livelihoods of people known to hold to classical Christian views on sex and marriage.

In a recent column, I pointed to almost a dozen such recent incidents, ranging from Kelvin Cochran to Angela McCaskill, and I also noted: “This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it points to where I think the greatest threats lie: closing down educational and work opportunities to traditionalists who dare to speak.”

This week you could add to that list baseball player Daniel Murphy, who announced he isn’t going to mention his religious beliefs opposing sex outside of Christian marriage any more, after a publicity storm in response to being asked about baseball’s new ambassador for “inclusion,” Billy Bean. (Hat tip: Rod Dreher.)

Celebrities are one thing, but I also didn’t mention in that column Eric Moutsos, the Salt Lake City cop who was disciplined merely for requesting a religious accommodation to a job assignment to ride at the front of a gay-pride parade. Anyway, the list of livelihoods endangered mounts. At an emotional hearing (on both sides) Moutsos just testified this week in favor of the Utah compromise, SB296.

With good reason: because this historic piece of legislation would likely help people like him, and it would especially help people whose jobs are being attacked because they respectfully seek to exercise — off the job — core constitutional rights: to speak, to sign petitions, to write religious books.

Here are the relevant clauses in this bill that looks as if like it will become the law of the land in Utah:

(1) An employee may express the employee’s religious or moral beliefs and commitments in the workplace in a reasonable, non-disruptive, and non-harassing way on equal terms with similar types of expression of beliefs or commitments allowed by the employer in the workplace, unless the expression is in direct conflict with the essential business-related interests of the employer.

(2) An employer may not discharge, demote, terminate, or refuse to hire any person, or retaliate against, harass, or discriminate in matters of compensation or in terms, privileges, and conditions of employment against any person otherwise qualified, for lawful expression or expressive activity outside of the workplace regarding the person’s religious, political, or personal convictions, including convictions about marriage, family, or sexuality, unless the expression or expressive activity is in direct conflict with the essential business-related interests of the employer.

The LDS Church was negotiating from a position of strength: Nothing was going to pass the Utah legislature that members felt would hurt Mormon institutions. But it responded generously, not only protecting employment and housing rights for LGBT individuals, but protecting institutions more typical of other religious communities, not just their own.

It was a frank compromise by the LDS Church: a bill that contained many things it does not necessarily personally support, but an attempt at live and let live. And the Human Rights Campaign responded graciously, supporting the Mormons’ efforts, “as a model for other faith traditions here in the United States.” Well, it’s kind of presumptuous for the HRC to tell faith communities how they should respond (who appointed them? God?), but let that pass. HRC’s press release specifically mentioned the free-speech protections, which apply equally to gay-rights supporters and traditionalist believers: “All individuals would be afforded the same free-speech protections in their private lives and could not be fired for either supporting or opposing marriage equality.”

Others than myself, as I said, will have to weigh in on whether this kind of compromise is (a) morally permissible within their faith tradition and (b) likely to be effective.

But in regard to the single greatest threat I can identify to the capacity of Christian and other traditionalists to live freely in America today — the threat to employment and speech — Utah breaks new and welcome ground.

— Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. She blogs at MaggieGallagher.com.

 

 

 

Most Popular

U.S.

Yes, Hillary Should Have Been Prosecuted

I know this is ancient history, but — I’m sorry — I just can’t let it go. When historians write the definitive, sordid histories of the 2016 election, the FBI, Hillary, emails, Russia, and Trump, there has to be a collection of chapters making the case that Hillary should have faced a jury ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Yes, There Was FBI Bias

There is much to admire in Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz’s highly anticipated report on the FBI’s Clinton-emails investigation. Horowitz’s 568-page analysis is comprehensive, fact-intensive, and cautious to a fault. It is also, nonetheless, an incomplete exercise — it omits half ... Read More
Sports

Let the World Have Soccer

The United States of America did not qualify for the World Cup this year. Good for us. Soccer is corrupt, hyper-regulated, impoverished by a socialist-style fondness for rationing, and organized to strangle human flourishing. It is so dependent on the whims of referees that is in effect a helpless captive of the ... Read More
Culture

Staying on the Path

Dear Reader (Including those of you who are no longer my personal lawyer), Almost 20 years ago, I wrote in this space that the movie A Simple Plan was one of the most conservative movies of the 1990s. In case you haven’t seen it, the plot is pretty straightforward, almost clichéd. It focuses on three men ... Read More
Immigration

Child Separation at the Border

If you want to read a thoughtful and constructive explanation and partial defense of the policies being implemented by the White House, you should read this piece by Rich Lowry. If you want to read a trollish and counter-productive screed fit for a comment section, read the White House’s official press ... Read More
Economy & Business

Asymmetrical Capitalism

I like to think of American Airlines CEO Doug Parker as my pen pal, but, in truth, he never writes back. It’s a lopsided relationship — asymmetrical, in a word. I have for many years argued that most people would be enthusiastic about capitalism if not for their interactions with a small number of ... Read More