Trump’s plan to let employers discriminate against LGBTQ workers
August 18, 2019 10:11 AM   Subscribe

It’s a political move with major consequences. The Trump administration caused an uproar Wednesday for proposing a policy that would give certain federal contractors the right to discriminate against people who don’t share their employer’s religious views...The proposed rule from the Department of Labor dramatically transforms the government’s decades-old policy that bars federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on their race, sex, religion, disability, or national origin. It would instead weaken these protections by expanding the policy’s one exemption: the religious exemption.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (30 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
This ends well.
posted by MengerSponge at 10:32 AM on August 18, 2019




And that’s not all! Trump’s Justice Department, in related news.
posted by Tiny Bungalow at 10:40 AM on August 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Just Friday morning I had a conversation with a co-worker, well he's actually my supervisor as he stepped up when the old supervisor retired, wherein I learned that the reason my workplace has been such a fucking hell for me (never enough to make me quit, but I felt things were obviously stacked against me) is because I'm a faggot and my former supervisor used that word when referring to me with other coworkers.

I knew it was going on. Coming out in 1990, one of the first lessons one learned was that everyone out there hates you simply because you exist, and you should expect to encounter hate from everyone all the time and only be surprised when you don't experience it. But I'd never before had someone confirm for me that what I intuited was going on was actually what was happening.

I mean, this guy who retired but who also hired me, he did a thing you shouldn't do during a job interview. He asked me if I was married. I told him "no, but I've been with the same guy for 20 years", and I watched him physically take a step back and get straighter in his stance. But he hired me anyway, and I'd been unemployed for 3 years (thanks, great recession!) so I was happy for the job.

My new supervisor is right now fighting against all the negative propaganda this previous guy fed into the overseeing systems and departments of the giant multinational we're a tiny part of in order to get me the pay raises I should have been having across the past 8 years of my employment, which I was being denied all because this guy couldn't deal with the fact that I'm gay.

I'm so thanking for my new supervisor (who is a good workplace friend and is within just a few months of my own age), and I wish I had it in me to be angry about the former guy, but it was all stuff I've experienced all across most of my adult working life.

And now this. Even as things are finally starting to change....

I wish Congress had passed ENDA decades ago.
posted by hippybear at 10:42 AM on August 18, 2019 [74 favorites]


In some ways I don't really feel it's right to force someone with strong religions beliefs to bake me a cake or make my dress for my (theoretical) trans and lesbian wedding. Of course I live in a big city, and there's plenty of other people who would cheerfully take my money.

I'm also extremely tired of articles proclaiming how great LGBTQIA+ people are doing with the eternal caveat of, "oh yeah you trans people aren't really doing the best but oh well."

That WaPo article is such a thinly supported propoganda piece with a terrible headline.
posted by Jacen at 10:43 AM on August 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


In some ways I don't really feel it's right to force someone with strong religions beliefs to bake me a cake or make my dress for my (theoretical) trans and lesbian wedding.

You're not forcing anyone to do anything. They hung a shingle out front which means they are inviting the public to come and ask them to do the thing they do for money, and to do it for them for the money have have to give. Federal law generally means that you don't get to pick and choose which members of the public get to give you money for you to do your thing that you do to get money -- everyone should be treated equally as customers in a marketplace where the businesses are all in business voluntarily.

My personal opinion is, if you find you have religious beliefs that are so strong that you feel the need to NOT treat everyone equally, then you shouldn't hang a shingle and you should only do business by word of mouth out of your home as hobby income and not dare to hang a shingle and invite in the public, because you aren't interested in having The Public (in its entirety) as customers.
posted by hippybear at 10:48 AM on August 18, 2019 [98 favorites]


The right to freedom of religion is a right to mind your own business and practice your beliefs on your own time, not a right to inflict them on other people.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:59 AM on August 18, 2019 [76 favorites]


The way things are regressing, America may have to have a literal come-to-Jesus moment about whether the 14th Amendment should still be a part of the US Constitution.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:03 AM on August 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


"During her confirmation hearing, DeVos denied making decisions for the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, which is on record giving to many anti-LGBT groups, despite being listed as a board member for 17 years; she said this was a clerical error."

Department of Edumaficationing.
posted by clavdivs at 11:38 AM on August 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


What if someone’s religious belief is Christian Identity? Is this prophylactic against declaration of orientation as a protected group in the future, or does this interfere with existing anti discrimination legislation?
posted by Selena777 at 11:47 AM on August 18, 2019


It's my deeply held religious conviction that anyone using a religious exemption for treating someone else poorly is actually just a fucking asshole.

We have pamphlets and everything.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:02 PM on August 18, 2019 [36 favorites]


Can I download those pamphlets as handy PDFs to print and distribute locally? Because that would be awesome.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:32 PM on August 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


I wonder to what extent the types of businesses we usually talk about in these scenarios affect peoples' confusion about whether religious objections are justifiable. Imagine a gas station or a grocery store that refuses to serve gay, trans or black people. Does your religious-freedom excuse still stand? That these cases often involve wedding- or birth-adjacent businesses is a complete red herring.

There are plenty of known cases of people getting kicked out of gas stations and coffee shops for speaking Spanish or being gay, but those are seen almost universally as indefensible, and the culprits are usually* fired.

---

But the OP is about applying Stand Your Ground logic to employment discrimination:
The problem with these rulings and with the latest labor department rule is that it will be almost impossible for marginalized workers to prove illegal discrimination: Employers could simply justify their actions by pointing to their religious beliefs.
This is really just a move to close the door to employment on anyone who is not white, straight, and the right type of Christian. Only True Scotsmen need apply.

* wish I didn't have to qualify that.
posted by klanawa at 1:41 PM on August 18, 2019 [12 favorites]


True, this is about government contractors. This is about people working computers and building things and developing processes... this isn't walk-in storefront stuff. This is "I won't renew your contract with the Defense Department because I, the person who makes decisions for this project, object to you having gay employees because of my religion".
posted by hippybear at 1:53 PM on August 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


I wonder to what extent the types of businesses we usually talk about in these scenarios affect peoples' confusion about whether religious objections are justifiable.
Oh, they do. Right wing think tanks have teams of legal strategists who put a great deal of thought into selecting which cases to advance to most engage public and judicial sympathy for their agenda.
Imagine a gas station or a grocery store that refuses to serve gay, trans or black people. Does your religious-freedom excuse still stand? That these cases often involve wedding- or birth-adjacent businesses is a complete red herring.
If you want a more direct analogy, consider a privately-owned hotel that chooses not to provide honeymoon accommodations for same-sex couples. I believe that most people would see that as unacceptably discriminatory in a way that people who think "it's just a cake" would not. Which is, of course, why the cake cases are being promoted to set precedents.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:02 PM on August 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


No, it's still a red herring because the purpose of the rental has nothing to do with anything. It feels prejudicial because it's tangentially about marriage, but it doesn't matter who sleeps in the bed. It's a business, end of. It either serves The Public or it doesn't. But you're right on the count that right-wing think tanks play that aspect up because red herrings are their stock in trade.
posted by klanawa at 2:39 PM on August 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Here's why some businesses can deny you service - but others can't [CNN - June 30th, 2018]
"A Virginia restaurant's decision not to serve White House press secretary Sarah Sanders raises a major question: Can businesses serving the public legally do that?

The answer is not clear cut. It depends on a number of factors, including whether the business's reasons are political, moral or discriminatory, and the person claiming discrimination falls under a protected trait or class, such as race or religion, lawyers say. With specific federal law and state laws that vary to certain degrees, it also depends on where the incident happened."
posted by Secret Sparrow at 3:25 PM on August 18, 2019


They're flailing because we're winning. We've already won. Yes, more of us will die, but the rainbow has conquered the flood.
posted by Sterros at 3:42 PM on August 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Someone should let the perpetually-persecuted evangelicals know that this change would also allow firing Christians for their religious beliefs.
posted by skymt at 3:45 PM on August 18, 2019 [9 favorites]


Someone should let the perpetually-persecuted evangelicals know that this change would also allow firing Christians for their religious beliefs.

Their entire worldview is based upon the idea that they already are. As far as they're concerned, this is evening the field.
posted by Reyturner at 4:09 PM on August 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


Makes me wish I were a Unitarian-Universalist with a government contract, so I could explicitly tell an evangelical employee that they weren't following my deeply held religious tenets by posting hateful stuff on facebook, so I could fire them, so I could trigger a test case I would lose that would invalidate this ridiculous law regulation.
posted by mark k at 5:35 PM on August 18, 2019 [9 favorites]


Seems like the perfect foil for The Satanic Temple. I would laugh my ass off at all the evangelical head explosions over a widely publicized firing of a one of their own on religious grounds.
posted by Mitheral at 7:26 PM on August 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


Wow, it says straight out these businesses will be able to fire women for being single and pregnant. Welcome to the United States in the 21rst century.
posted by xammerboy at 7:31 PM on August 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


This is beyond terrible and would never hold up in court but the mere fact that it is being attempted is obscene.

Claiming a religion should not exempt one from a single law or regulation of any sort. This is especially true in a land with freedom of religion. If your free to believe in any religion whatsoever, you could refuse to hire people in the LGPTQ group. You could also fire a woman for being a woman. You could also do anything you wanted. You don't believe in medicine? Refuse to offer health care. You believe any alteration of the human is against god's plan? Refuse to follow ADA guidelines. No minimum wage, no overtime, no sexual harassment protections, no anything you don't want. Just claim "religious belief'

If this was allowed than what if a business' religion doesn't believe in paying taxes? Will Trump be okay with not paying taxes in the name of religious freedom?

Religious freedom should mean you are allowed to believe anything you want. It shouldn't mean you can put those beliefs in action. No sacrificing virgins in a volcano.
posted by 2manyusernames at 4:15 AM on August 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


This has been coming for a while. Constitutional scholars have been waving red flags over the way the right wing has been trying to weaponize the First Amendment.

To wit: the First Amendment has 2 parts:
-- government shall not abridge free exercise of speech or religion;
-- government shall not establish religion

The "separation of church and state" has been in place in order to prevent violation of the Establishment Clause: no sectarian prayers at government events, no mandatory prayer in school, etc. The Founders remembered how the UK required membership in the Church of England to participate in public life, and wanted none of that. But the evangelical right doesn't like this, it wants prayer in school--their prayers. They want the government to enforce their religious rules (not anyone else's, just theirs).

So instead they use the Free Exercise Clause to fight against Establishment Clause jurisprudence, by claiming that rules written to keep government from affirmatively supporting a particular religious viewpoint are actually punishing them for their religious beliefs or their right to free speech.

And the US has a long-standing attachment to the Free Speech/Exercise Clause: it's by far the most well-known of the Bill of Rights, the one everyone clings to. Lots of people call themselves First Amendment absolutists, by which they mean the absolute right to freedom of speech and religion: "I hate what you say but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

In the battle of the Bill of Rights, Freedom of Speech beats Establishment Clause in the public mind, because most of the public cannot fathom how their interests would be harmed by Establishment Clause violations. They think only the ACLU and (godless immoral) atheists are bothered by Establishment Clause violations.

This is already ugly, and it's going to get worse.

My only consolation is that (a) this is confined to the hundreds of thousands of federal contractors, not the entire US workforce; and (b) it's probably not going to survive judicial review. I hope.
posted by suelac at 9:28 AM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Founders remembered how the UK required membership in the Church of England to participate in public life, and wanted none of that.

True, but they remembered that in the colonies, too, not just the UK. New England was dominated by the Congregationalist church and the southern colonies were dominated by the Anglican church. They were the official state-established churches and your taxes supported them.

Irony note: the evangelical Baptists and Methodists that want to establish religion now were the victims of establishment then. You could be fined or imprisoned for exercising your beliefs.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:40 AM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Someone should let the perpetually-persecuted evangelicals know that this change would also allow firing Christians for their religious beliefs.

Their entire worldview is based upon the idea that they already are. As far as they're concerned, this is evening the field.


Yeah, but as white, christian men and women perceive themselves as losing power due to demographic change, the measures they take to strip away legal equality and unbalance the playing field will eventually be used against their descendants when, inevitably, the demographics tip too far for them to hold power any more. These selfsame measures can and will be used to actually discriminate against them, but by then it'll be too late.
posted by Gelatin at 10:47 AM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


In some ways I don't really feel it's right to force someone with strong religions beliefs to bake me a cake or make my dress for my (theoretical) trans and lesbian wedding. Of course I live in a big city, and there's plenty of other people who would cheerfully take my money.

I get that, I mean, obviously you don't want to eat a cake baked by people who seem to hate you, but the need to compel people to treat their customers equally is the same concept we used for ending segregation. Do you feel that the civil rights movement was a bad call? Maybe it was, I know it certainly didn't fix things completely.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:19 PM on August 19, 2019


There’s a huge space between boycotting a business and not being allowed in.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:47 AM on August 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


Hate crime reports have soared in D.C. Prosecutions have plummeted. (WaPo) [link contains description of violence]
Last year, police made arrests in a record 59 hate-crime cases involving adults. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which handles most criminal cases in the capital, prosecuted only three as hate crimes, and one was quickly dropped.
[...]
The Post’s months-long analysis of more than 200,000 D.C. police and court records found that hate-crime prosecutions and convictions are at their lowest point in at least a decade.
[...]
The District is the only place in the country where local crimes are prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office, whose leader is appointed by the president. The setup makes it hard to hold prosecutors accountable, especially in a city where Trump won just 4 percent of the vote, advocates said.
Also, Log Cabin GOP official who resigned over Trump: 'He will divide and damage and destroy this country'
posted by peeedro at 8:53 AM on August 21, 2019


« Older a vast ramshackle machinery that elevates men   |   87 year-old Holocaust survivor faces eviction from... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments