Protection from Discrimination

In the place where I live, the county court has decided to enact an ordinance against discrimination. In particular, this ordinance protects people who seek jobs or housing from discrimination based upon “sexual orientation,” whether or not the applicants are homosexuals.

One of the commissioners commented that there had been a lot of testimony and debate about whether or not homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. Some say it is, while others seem to think it’s genetic. This commissioner noted that the county court is in no position to decide whether homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, nor should it do so.

The court passed this ordinance, but that commissioner raised an important question: Did the Wasco county court decide whether homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, or not? This question has application to other legal jurisdictions, as well.

So, did they? Yes, they did, even if it was unintentionally.

Protection from discrimination based upon race and gender recognizes that these are human traits, not choices of individuals. Discrimination based upon such traits is wrong, unless the traits demonstrably disqualify the individual in question. (For example, no man can be a wet-nurse, strictly speaking, no matter how much anyone may wish otherwise.)

So every time goverment seeks to protect a special group from discrimination, it strongly implies the assumption that the protected group is not distinguished by a lifestyle choice, but by traits beyond the control of the protected group.

There may also be ordinances protecting the disabled from discrimination in various ways. Disabilities are not essential to humanity like race or gender, but they are beyond the control of the protected group. Nobody wants to become more disabled.

You may believe that homosexuality is not a choice, and deserves protection from discrimination. Do you believe the same thing about alcoholism? Or a lifestyle of stealing, gambling, or smoking? Some people find these destructive behaviors impossible to stop. But so far, our government has not chosen to make special protections for such people.

The debate about whether homosexuality is a choice may continue, though it will not continue past the Last Day. My point is that the Wasco county commissioners have now weighed in on the debate. They assume that homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice, and based upon this (perhaps overlooked) assumption, they have passed their non-discrimination ordinance.

One thought on “Protection from Discrimination

  1. Hi, Pastor.
    Not to sound picky, but courts do not pass laws/ordinances. City councils, county boards, state legislatures – yes. But not courts. Jack

    *[ Reply from J.J.: Hi Jack. I don’t think it’s technically the court doing this, but the county commission. I don’t claim to understand why, but the commission (of 3) includes the elected county judge, who chairs it. So I doubt that I’m the only one confused by this. The hearings took place in the courtroom of the county courthouse, with the elected judge sitting in his own seat, and “testimony” given by citizens. If it seems that I’m not very familiar with the workings of county government, it’s because I’m not. ]*

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