Bynum gay proposition on council agenda tonight

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UPDATE 2010/06/18: It passed as expected, 6-3. Now it goes to Mayor Bartlett's desk, and we're about to find out whether he is the conservative he claimed to be during the campaign.

A month ago, I wrote about a proposal authored by Tulsa City Councilor G. T. Bynum adding "sexual orientation" to the city's human resources anti-discrimination policy. Tonight that proposal comes before the Tulsa City Council for approval, and six councilors -- the three Democrats plus Republicans Bynum, Bill Christiansen, and Chris Trail -- have voiced support. As I wrote last month, I thought we had a solid majority of conservatives on the council, but it appears I badly miscounted. Even the three councilors who voiced opposition were tentative in their remarks, as if they knew they should be against this, but couldn't articulate the reasons.

Bynum has presented this proposition as if it were a matter of "live and let live" -- not intruding into the private life of an employee or applicant. Bynum is either naive or disingenuous. The ultimate use to which these propositions are put is to silence those who hold traditional opinions of homosexual behavior. The only permitted opinion about homosexual behavior will be approval and celebration.

Today's (2010/06/17) edition of the comic strip "The Meaning of Lila" shows where all this is going. An employee complains to his company's HR manager about the comments of a coworker.

HR: I'm sorry, Boyd, but there are no laws protecting sexual orientation in Ohio. If Brittany made racist comments or sexually harassed you, we could take some action.

Boyd: You mean Brittany can say anything she wants about gays?

HR: Legally, yes.

Boyd: So there's nothing I can do?

HR: Come back when you're 40, and we can look into age discrimination.

What horrifying thing could Brittany have said to prompt Boyd to complain about her to HR?

She expressed opposition to gay marriage.

In Monday's strip, Brittany hears Boyd, her cube-mate, talking about attending a gay coworker's wedding in Iowa. She says, "Gays can't get married." When Boyd told her that Iowa allows it, she replied, "How did that sneak by?"

On Tuesday, Brittany says to Boyd, "Don't get me wrong. I'm totally cool about gays. I just don't think you should get married."

That was provocation enough to prompt Boyd's complaint to HR that Brittany was making "homophobic comments."

The company in the strip didn't have the kind of rule that G. T. Bynum is pushing, so the character that voiced her opposition, in very mild terms, to gay marriage couldn't be punished for her opinion.

Yes, I know it's only a comic strip, but it's a reflection of the real-world effort by those who want to tear down sexual morality to push aside those who stand in their way, however meekly.

And as I pointed out last month, these rules aren't just about silencing opinions in the workplace but are weapons that can be wielded against religious coworkers any time a homosexual employee feels slighted.

The real effect of Bynum's push to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation is to add another pretext for someone to sue the city. An unsuccessful job applicant, a city employee passed over for a promotion, someone demoted or dismissed for poor performance -- any of them could claim "it's because I'm gay" and file a formal complaint.

With such a complaint, the focus shifts from the performance, attitude, and capabilities of the disgruntled employee or applicant to the moral opinions of the manager or supervisor who made the decision. The supervisor would be hauled up before the Civil Rights Commission and Exhibit A in the hearing would be the paperback New Testament on her bookshelf or the poster on her cubicle wall of a basket of kittens with a verse of scripture beneath. The supervisor's membership in a church that teaches that homosexual behavior is sinful (e.g., Bynum's own Roman Catholic Church) would create a presumption of guilt that the supervisor's hiring decision or disciplinary action was based in bigotry.

After the system makes an example of a couple of city supervisors, they'll learn to cut their "out and proud" homosexual employees extra slack, just to avoid the hassle of justifying themselves to the Civil Rights Commission. This sort of thing is already happening in Europe and Canada. Ultimately, "anti-discrimination" laws to protect homosexuals are used to persecute those who hold to views of sexual morality which within living memory spanned all major religions and all civilized cultures and which are still held by the vast majority of Oklahomans.

It should also be said that the proposal backed by Bynum puts the city in the position of taking a moral and religious stand that makes abnormal sexual behavior morally equivalent to being born with a certain skin color or coming from a certain ethnic background.

It should be noted that, while the new rule would not affect private business in Tulsa -- yet -- it does set a precedent that will make it easier for activists to push for similar rules in private companies. Part of Bynum's justification for his proposal is that other cities and major companies are doing it.

If you object to our "conservative" city councilors moving Tulsa city government further toward socially liberal political correctness, please speak up today. Call your councilor at 918-596-192x, substituting your district number for x. So, for example, G. T. Bynum in District 9 may be reached at 918-596-1929; District 8's Bill Christiansen is at 918-596-1928; and District 5's Chris Trail is at 918-596-1925. You may also be able to reach councilors Christiansen and Trail through their businesses, Christiansen Aviation and Ike's Chili Parlor.

Bynum also has some budget proposals to bring forward tonight. I'm happy about that, but budgets come and go. What Bynum is doing with this sexual orientation proposal is unlikely to be undone -- public policy is like a ratchet, and once it moves in a liberal direction, it's very difficult and costly, if not impossible, to move it back.

MORE: If you're unfamiliar with the "ratchet effect," it's a phrase originated by Keith Joseph, Margaret Thatcher's political mentor, in reference to the seemingly inevitable shift toward socialism and away from economic freedom in Britain, but the term's use has been generalized to social policy by the observation that movement away from traditional values is almost never reversed. There's an excellent essay in the Red State archives on the ratchet effect and its application to morality and society. Here's an excerpt:

In addition to the skill of ratcheting the nation's policies continually leftward, the Left possesses a remarkable facility in permanently fixing their aims into place. Through the illegitimate exploitation of the courts, a multitude of important issues has been effectively eliminated from the public square of legislative discourse. The Left's success in removing critical social and cultural matters completely off the table and beyond the reach of `government by the people' is a perversely admirable achievement. Re-reading the Johnson and Ponnuru excerpts leaves one incredulous at the overwhelming nature of the Left's triumph. No matter how difficult the admission is for conservatives, the Left has run the table.

It is tempting to attribute the one-way street of social liberalization to the inevitable and uncontrollable forces of modernization and secularization. Others of a more suspicious cast of mind believe that resorting to explanations of invisible social forces is nothing more than a smoke screen to conceal the fingerprints of human agency in the Left's success. The latter is far closer to the mark as argued in The True and Only Heaven by Christopher Lasch and The Secular Revolution by Christian Smith. The dubious assumption that modernization equals secularization has been advanced and employed by "various interest groups...in the service of their own quest for power, usually at the expense of religion and religious institutions." [Quote courtesy of First Things]

Any councilor voting in support of this leftward shift is either not really a conservative or too naive to be trusted with higher office.

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8 Comments

A said:

Why would there ever be a need for someone to voice their opinion on homosexuality in the workplace? No one should be fired or treated differently in the workplace if someone finds out they are GLBT. This is to prevent discrimination.

There is a difference between political conservatives and religious conservatives and the religious viewpoint should not be the basis for our civil laws.

Thank you so much for posting this, Michael. I'm very disappointed that G.T. is going down this road.

Why would there ever be a need for someone to voice their opinion on the final episode of "Lost" in the workplace? Or last night's World Cup match? It's helpful to see that the agenda here really is about silencing politically incorrect opinions.

A person's sexual behavior is an element of his or her character. Don't you make judgments about coworkers, subordinates, business partners, and acquaintances based on their character?

Moogle Author Profile Page said:

So-called Traditional Conservatives (TCs) have failed to recognize that there are really three issues:
1. Tolerating sexual preferences (not "orientation").
2. Endorsing sexual preferences.
3. Making a legal determination that sexual preferences qualify a group as a genetically distinct racial minority.

What the pro-gay lobby has done is successfully smash these three distinct issues into one: You can't be for or against one without being for or against them all. So if you are against 2 and 3, then you are necessarily against 1 and, therefore, officially "intolerant". And intolerance is terribly uncool these days.

As illustration: We don't tolerate 72 year old men preferring to have sex with 6 year old girls. We do tolerate 72 year old men having sex with 18 year old girls, but many don't endorse it, and almost nobody considers such 72 year old men -- because of their sexual "orientation" -- to be a specially protected racial minority.

As further illustration: Society used to tolerate AND (this might surprise some people) used to endorse cigarette smoking. But there has never been any move to legally classify smokers as a genetically distinct racial minority EVEN THOUGH THERE IS SOME BIOLOGICAL PREDISPOSITION TO NICOTINE ADDICTION.

Even though I don't endorse cigarette smoking and certainly don't consider smokers to be a racial minority, I have no problem with them smoking. I'll associate with them. I'll go to lunch with them. It's their lungs. I couldn't care less what they do with them. That's tolerance without endorsement. We don't make nicotine "orientation" a protected minority group even though there is a genuine biological basis for it.

Likewise, I have no problem associating with those who prefer having sex with their own gender. It's your junk. Enjoy. That's tolerance. But tolerance does not imply endorsement of someone's preferences for sex or classification of that person as a genetically distinct racial minority. Tolerance is distinct from endorsement.

While conditions 1 and 2 above are a matter of personal belief, condition 3 has been proven to be scientifically unsound. Much research has been done to find the "gay gene", and no such gene exists. Sexual preference is just that and no more an "orientation" than nudism (which, by the way, has no Biblical proscription. It's mighty hypocritical to refuse to classify clothing "orientation" as a protected group and force nudists to "live a lie" by not allowing them to run around naked. I'll be looking for Episcopalians to "accept" a naked fat man dropping in on the Eucharist since Jesus was such an "accepting" person -- even though there isn't a single case of him saying "Y'all just keep on doing whatever it is you were doing and follow me.")

And a recommendation to TCs: You might think about getting un-fixated from the single issue of abortion (which you will lose in the courts) and direct some attention and political savvy toward issues you can win in the legislatures AND the courts. Otherwise, the moral relativists, the nanny and Big Brother staters, and the deficit spenders will continue their rampage.

Joe Taylor Author Profile Page said:

While admittedly such a policy might be abused to punish a city employee for expressing a disapproving opinion about homosexuality there remains the real problem of verbal harassment, denied promotions, and other forms of discrimination against openly gay city employees. Should they not be protected? If they should be protected, how, if not via HR policy?

Verbal harassment is inappropriate workplace behavior, no matter the motivation.

As to matters like denied promotions, that's my point: Anyone could claim that the disappointing result was a result of bias. How would the accused supervisor disprove the accusation? And what if the denied promotion was the result of unprofessional conduct connected with an employee's sexual proclivities?

The heart of the matter is this: For millenia, the cultural consensus among almost every civilization around the globe, among every major religion and even among the irreligious, has been that one's sexual conduct is a reflection of one's character. For the last 50 or so there has been a campaign, fairly successful in the west, to insist that no one should ever suffer reproach for his sexual behavior, no matter how deviant. This ordinance imposes the moral perspective behind that campaign on the people of the City of Tulsa. It is an act of cultural imperialism by a vocal minority over the vast majority of Tulsans.

Hiring and promotion decisions involve exercising judgment, and I believe that a supervisor should be able to consider all aspects of an employee's character in making those decisions.

Stillwater Townie said:

But if one important way to judge one's character is to partly base it on his sexual behavior, deviant, or not, then how do you do it, if he manages to keep it secret and in private? Or is an indicator of good character not making your sex life an issue with anyone not intimately involved in it?

J dub said:

*waves hand in front of Bynum's constituents*

This is not the republican you are looking for.

See? Jedi mind tricks work wonders come election time!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 17, 2010 8:41 AM.

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