Vice President Joe Biden called for an end to LGTB (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) workplace discrimination in his speech to the Human Rights Campaign in Los Angeles on Saturday. Biden stated that it seems barbaric for a company to fire an employee based on their sexual orientation or gender. He went on to state during his speech that in 20 years, Americans will look back and wonder how such a thing was ever allowed to take place.
Biden also called for Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as ENDA, which prevents any employer with 15 employees or more from making employment decisions based on an individual’s sexual preferences or gender. The type of decisions this legislation outlines would include those about hiring, compensation, firing, and giving promotions. Religious institutions like churches, or the U.S. military would be exempted from conforming with the bill.
Joe Biden’s call to end LGTB workplace discrimination, while noble, brings up concerns about violating the First Amendment rights of individuals who own the businesses affected by ENDA. In a free market republic, like the one called for in the Constitution, business owners should be free to run their company the way they see fit. This legislation intimidates employers who have a LGTB employee who might be under performing from firing that individual, fearing that it may bring legal consequences down on their company. Sexual orientation and other such traits are subjective, meaning there is no way to truly verify if an individual actually belongs to one of these groups. The legislation as a whole seems to be an excuse for gaining more control over private businesses by big government.
With that being said, the issue of discrimination is a serious one, and Biden is right to draw attention to it. It is horrible to think of all the hate that is out there for a person, whether it is for sexual orientation or skin color. The reality is that government has done far more harm to those belonging to minority groups than it has protection. If one does a careful examination of America before the Civil Rights movement, it may shock some to find that it was the government that forced segregation on people and companies, not the other way around. Jim Crow laws were put in place by the government, despite push back from companies who recognized their bottom line would be hurting from segregation.
Living in a free society means having the freedom to make bad decisions, and discrimination is one of those bad decisions that should be protected by the First Amendment. Any business who decides to discriminate when hiring or providing services to an individual based on religion, sex, or color, is hurting their potential to make a profit. People can choose not to work or shop at the business in question, and as word spreads about the company’s behavior, it will not take long for the economic hit to deliver a blow of justice in the form of drying up profits. This means the offender will be out of business. The market can work wonders.
It is disgusting and vile to think that anyone would judge the quality of a person by their sexual orientation or ethnicity, but unfortunately it does happen. If Americans want the right to call out such heinous activity, the speech and practices of those who are discriminatory must be protected along with other kinds of speech. If speech is limited in any capacity by the government, it will not be long before all of it is tightly controlled by the state. The free market is a better solution to end LGTB workplace discrimination than the legislation that Joe Biden calls for.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell