Not a Civil Right

Not a Civil Right April 25, 2015

This image was spotted by someone in a church, and uploaded to Reddit:

2015-04-24 10.51.49

Someone then took the liberty of modifying it:

2015-04-25 13.18.09

It seems to me that the two different signs encapsulate the diametrically opposing viewpoints expressed in relation to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. There are some who want the right to discriminate, and for some reason they think that if gays and lesbians were not “born this way,” that would justify their discrimination.

On the other side, there are those who recognize that government has to make laws about behaviors, and in fact it is discriminatory behavior that is one of the many freedoms that need to be restricted because it infringes upon the freedoms of others.

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  • TomS

    Among the categories which are often recognized in US laws as defining civil rights:
    veteran status

  • Update: here is the source of the original sign:

  • So everyone should be forced to be bisexual? Anything else must “infringe on the freedom of others”!

    • What on earth are you talking about?!

      • Heterosexality is anti-homosexual discrimination, isn’t it?

        • No it isn’t. But I will assume you are kidding and not seriously suggesting something so thoroughly idiotic.

          • How is it idiotic? It’s logic.
            And no, I am not even remotely kidding.

          • What is wrong with you? How can you think this is logic? Do you think that being male is discriminatory against women?

          • No, but being gay surely is. And there’s nothing wrong with my thought process here.

          • Deb Waggoner

            You can fix ignorance but ya can’t fix stupid…harding and logic don’t mix

          • Nonsense.

        • guest

          If a woman doesn’t want to have sex with you, is she discriminating against you?
          What are you even talking about?

          • If an employer does not want to hire you, is she discriminating against you?
            I think that question answers itself: sometimes, but by no means always.

          • John Pieret

            I think that question answers itself: sometimes, but by no means always.

            So, give us a rational basis for separating the two situations.

          • I am not surprised that you want to change the subject. But this will not do. You need to explain how someone being who they are constitutes discrimination against those who are not like them.

          • Not trying to change the subject at all. Nor do I want to. What if you “are” a homophobe or racist?

          • Then can you kindly get back to the point and explain this comment you posted above?

            “So everyone should be forced to be bisexual? Anything else must “infringe on the freedom of others”!”

            How does heterosexuality, for instance, discriminate against gays and lesbians? How, for that matter, does my enjoyment of Atterberg’s second symphony discriminate against someone who prefers Dolly Parton?

            Or to put it as I did earlier, kindly explain what on earth you are talking about.

          • Heterosexuality is discrimination because it excludes whole categories of interactions with a group of people based on who they are rather than any individual merit they might have.

          • What do you mean? Not being sexually attracted to a particular gender is not what is normally meant by “discrimination.”

          • John Pieret

            As an attorney myself, I am quite familiar with those sources. None of them require that “everyone should be forced to be” black, or female or belong to a particular religion, much less to be bisexual. What you said was nonsensical. Want to try again?

          • Why’s it nonsensical? Sure, the regulations don’t require it. Only their reduction to the absurd; the logical conclusions of the premises sustaining them do.

          • John Pieret


            That made even less sense than the original comment. I can’t parse it at all. The regulations are reduced to the “absurd” by who, what and/or how? And what “logical conclusions” of what “premises” are “sustaining” what? This is just gibberish.

          • Ian

            I got your point (I think). I resolve the contradiction by positing that sexual and romantic interactions are private interactions under the remit of mutual consent. Other kinds of interaction may be public, and thus not require mutuality. Defining the two categories is not trivial or non-contentious.

            So I’d suggest that it is a social problem if someone does not to serve a black person in a restaurant.

            But it is (generally) not a social problem if someone chooses to not invite black acquaintances to a dinner party.

            (One can, in all these thought experiments, add further caveats to the scenarios to alter the calculus, this doesn’t undermine the basic idea, but is useful to explore the boundaries and one’s intuition about the borders).

            It is not a social problem that non-bisexual people exist. By the same token.

            But, also, by the same logic that it is a social good to try to use education and social indoctrination to reduce the number of people who would not consider making black friends, I think it is also a good to encourage people to default to bisexuality.

            I hope my son (or his descendents) grow up in a world of bisexual assumption, where there is no requirement for people to ‘identify’ in advance a strict class of people they are allowed to find attractive based on some biological characteristic. I hope being ‘straight’ or ‘gay’ is as odd as identifying yourself only willing to date short people, or redheads.

            For that to happen, it requires a lot of social change though. It is politically important for gay folks to be identified as such, since the greater evil at the moment is erasure of their needs and rights. When that’s won, I hope we can move towards a bisexual society, as I hope we can eventually be genuinely blind to skin color and gender.

  • Ian

    I’m increasingly having a problem with the idea that same-sex attraction is a biological determination. What, exactly, is the problem with someone choosing to be in a same sex relationship? Is that love less worthy of respect or civil protection just because one or both of the people involved could potentially have fallen in love with someone of the opposite gender?

    It seems to imply that same-sex relationships are so bad and sub-optimal, that the only good reason for granting them rights is because those people can’t help themselves.

    We should stop with the ‘being gay is not a choice’. Being gay may be a choice, it often is, and that’s cool. Hooray for love and the way that people can find other people to love them and who they love. Screw anyone who tries to reduce those choices into fungible biological necessities.

    … I have a similar problem with the rhetoric around same-sex marriage which stresses ‘monogamy’, nicely throwing polyamorous relationships under the bus. Can we be politically strong without shafting people who should be allies?

    • You make excellent points. This is particularly relevant when considering how bisexuals are viewed and treated. If we give the impression that biological determination is the only real justification for same-sex relations, then that might seem to imply that those who feel attraction to people of both genders, and thus can choose, ought by definition to choose a partner of the opposite gender. Indeed, “opposite gender” has the same problematic binary as its assumption. Being a free society ought to mean that the question of biological attraction is not what matters, but the freedom of the individual to act as they see fit, even if it happens to run counter to their biological instincts.

      Nevertheless, I do think that understanding the biological roots of sexual attraction has helped change the way many people think about these matters, in positive ways for the most part.

      • Ian

        The last paragraph: I agree partially. I think an argument to biological determinism is stronger politically. It is easier to say “we need equal rights, because we have no choice.” It helps people understand the necessity of acting humanely. As such it uses the kinds of language used in anti-slavery discussions. A black person can’t choose to be other than black, therefore they should be treated as equal.

        My problem with this approach is whether the benefit really is worth it. I’m not sure it has done more long term good to the wider queer community, outside Lesbian and Gay-identified people. I don’t mean compared to doing nothing (clearly it has been a net positive), but compared to the alternative of being inclusive about queer people as a whole. How could we tell, of course!

        I do note, though, that it is unnecessary. We got rid of anti-miscegenation laws without that rhetoric. Nobody was seriously saying that people in mixed relationships were biologically incapable of loving people of their own race. In fact the very idea of saying “we have to allow for white people to marry blacks because some white people are born with that attraction, they have no choice” would be obviously racist.

        So I think it should be possible to make the case without pretending bisexuality is not a widespread thing, or without implying that gay people are simply victims of their biology. I think, whatever political benefit it conferred, it is probably time to fight the rhetoric now to avoid further entrenchment of harm.