Photo of the day

Pretty amazing In Focus gallery of WWII photos:

War-torn Cologne Cathedral stands out of the devastated area on the west bank of the Rhine, in Cologne, Germany, April 24, 1945. The railroad station and the Hohenzollern Bridge, at right, are completely destroyed after three years of Allied air raids.

AP Photo


I’m liberal, but words have meaning

I meant to write about this over a month ago, but got distracted.  I saw mention of it in a recent story involving HB2 that reminded me of it.  Anyway, here’s the deal (via NPR):

The Civil Rights Act bans sex discrimination, but does it cover sexual orientation?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it does — and it wants this position validated by federal courts. This month, the EEOC filed its first-ever lawsuits charging employers with discrimination against gay and lesbian employees.

“The commission takes the position that discrimination because of sexual orientation is intrinsically a form of sex discrimination,” says David Lopez, the agency’s general counsel. “I think it will help illuminate for employers their responsibilities and it will help illuminate for employees the rights.”

One of the two cases alleges that a gay man working at a health clinic in Pennsylvania was subject to homophobic epithets and degrading comments about his sex life. His complaints, he says, were ignored.

The other case involves a forklift company in Baltimore, where a lesbian employee alleges that her supervisor made lewd comments and gestures, promising to turn her “back into a woman.” She claims she was fired after lodging a complaint…

However, many also don’t believe the government agency should be rewriting the law, says Jonathan Segal, an employment attorney representing employers.

“There are some that view this as the EEOC trying to create law. I think this eventually will get to the Supreme Court, if it’s not resolved by Congress beforehand,” Segal says.

Here’s the thing… Employers should not discriminate against LGBT employees because it’s just wrong.  But, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect them.  How can you say sexual orientation discrimination is inherently sex discrimination?!  Sorry, but words have meaning and the Civil Rights Act in no fair reading protects against sexual orientation discrimination.  Do you think it should (sounds quite reasonable to me), then work to change the law.

Bureaucracies do not get to make new laws by administrative fiat.  Of course, they get to refine them and create the key details where laws are ambiguous (as I teach in pretty much all my classes), but they do not get make new laws.  Declaring that the Civil Rights Act protects against sexual orientation discrimination is clearly at odds with the plain meaning of the law, the intent of the law at the time it was written, and it is a huge stretch to say that it represents any sort of evolved standard of “sex discrimination.”

Liberals should fight to change the law to protect against sexual orientation discrimination.  In the current political climate, I think it is a winning issue, in addition to being the right thing to do.  What liberals should not do is rely on bureaucracies to fundamentally re-interpret the meaning of laws in order to get their way.

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