Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Being Gay is not My Personal Life

Or so says a commenter I encountered over at Sed Contra. After saying that gays should not get any kind of employment protection, and saying that it was perfectly moral for people to deny gays employment, even if they do not discuss their sexuality at work at all, I decided to step in and offer my view of things. I said that my being gay has nothing to do with my work, and if it somehow affected my work, then my boss would have something to say. But since it doesn't, it shouldn't.

He proceeded to tell me that it was a dubious claim to say that my "sexual behavior" was part of my personal/private life. You know, I always wondered what the opponents of the Lawrence v. Texas ruling were thinking. Now I know- gays do not have any right to privacy at all, according to this line of thinking.

Let's be clear here- the Lawrence case never said that sodomy is a protected right in the constitution. What it said was that there was a right to privacy in the constitution and there was a right to due process in the constitution, and invading gay people's homes to see if they are having sex (while letting straight people have a pass- this was admitted by the state) was violating both issues.

According to Victor, the commenter, though, gays have no right to private/personal lives. How much more part of one's personal/private life can their families be? As much as many conservatives would like people to believe otherwise, this really is about taking away people's rights.


**Update on this one. Gay Like a Fox is having a little bit of debate on this issue too. He has some good takes, especially a response he made to Victor. Since Victor said I was jumping to conclusions by saying he said it would be moral to deny a gay person employment, I'm still waiting for him to say clearly whether or not it is moral to deny a gay person employment. What do you think, Victor?

8 Comments:

At 4/5/05 9:30 AM, Blogger Victor said...

TA claimed I said the following things, all of which I did not or only did with some qualifications absent here. Part of the problem with that discussion was that TA wasn't keeping straight in his head some very basic distinctions that one should understand before discussing legal matters:


After saying that gays should not get any kind of employment protection

This is only true qua homosexuality (in other words, a black homosexual, a lesbian or Catholic homosexual would be a member of a protected category -- race, sex and religion).

This is also only true as a legal opinion on my part. In other words "should not under the law."


saying that it was perfectly moral for people to deny gays employment

NO!! No. No. No, and again no. I never said that. And the very fact TA (and he's very much not alone in this intellectual failure) can't distinguish that claim from what I did say** and construes or extrapolates what I said into that paraphrased bit of moral-asininity is a big part of the reason I oppose employment-discrimination laws.

**What I did say: Sexuality should not be a protected category under employment law; employers have rights of association; one cannot say "sexuality should be a protected category" without making a moral claim about sexual behaviors.


it was a dubious claim to say that my "sexual behavior" was part of my personal/private life."

Not really. I said the fact that something is sexual behavior does not in and of itself, automatically, make it part of your private life. All sorts of sexual behaviors are restricted under law, and uncontroversially so (do you really need me to spell out which ones for you?)


I always wondered what the opponents of the Lawrence v. Texas ruling were thinking. Now I know - gays do not have any right to privacy at all

No. On two points. First, I oppose a constitutional right of privacy (this is not at all the same thing as a moral claim to a personal life). And second, I oppose it for everybody, not just homosexuals.


This isn't a calumny against myself, but it's too relevant to my actual disagreement with TA to pass up:

What it said was that there was a right to privacy in the constitution

Except that there isn't. The Supreme Court pulled that "right" of "privacy" out of its ass in 1965. The word "privacy" appears nowhere in the actual Constitution, but the justices divined it from penumbras, emanations, movements of the phlogiston, entrails, eye of newt and tongue of bat. It did so purely because it wanted to strike down a (ridiculous) Connecticut law against contraception. And now this non-existent "right" is part of case law by dint of 40 years of repetition. I would recommend that you read Justice Hugo Black's dissent in that case, Griswold v Connecticut -- it's the century's greatest judicial opinion -- but I'm afraid you'd think it means Justice Black favors sending The Sex Police into people's bedrooms and peeping under the sheets, buckets of ice at hand, ready to stamp out all use of rubbers.


invading gay people's homes to see if they are having sex

Just from curiosity -- how often did this happen in The Police State Of Texas before the Emancip... er ... Lawrence case in 2003? Keep in mind the intentional agency implied by "invading ... to see." So this excludes opportunistic charges and lesser-count convictions and plea bargains.

 
At 4/5/05 10:38 AM, Blogger GayLikeAFox said...

Interested parties can read my comments about this over at my blog.

 
At 5/5/05 11:45 AM, Blogger Brady said...

Victor-

Regarding your first comment. Yes, of course a black or Catholic gay person would be protected. But, they are protected for reasons other than their sexual orientation. Throwing this in there is absurd becuase it just distracts the issue.

Further, you never clarified your viewpoint as a legal one. You never said "should not under the law." Or said that you think they should, but the law does not. Why would I believe you were not talking about your own personal position when you never said that?


On your next point about the morality of association of gay people. You do say that it would be a moral decision for someone to hire a gay person i.e. someone would have to take a moral stance in their own mind, and if they find it to be immoral, they should not have to hire that person. Taking that logic further, by saying that it would be moral to deny employment, is not a huge leap, especially since you didn't clearly state the opposite.

As for my sexuality being part of my private life, I did not misquote you there. You said, "But categorizing one's sexual behavior as "my personal/private life" is dubious and certainly a moral claim even if true."

In that statement, you made no reference to sexual behaviors. You are only now trying to qualify what you said.

Before Lawrence V. Texas, very few cases of sodomy were charged, yes, but there were some. And the men in Lawrence were charged as sex offenders and registered in the sex offender database. And, as much as you hate a right to privacy legally, the law did not invade your right to privacy, only the right to privacy of gays.

I trust you will be lobbying the state of Texas and other states or the Supreme Court to allow laws to regulate the sexual practices of all citizens and allow them to go into a house for this reason alone.

 
At 5/5/05 7:17 PM, Blogger Victor said...

TA wrote to me:

Further, you never clarified your viewpoint as a legal one. You never said "should not under the law."

Here were my first words on Sed Contra, the context of which was discussion of homosexual "marriage" under Canadian law (i.e., a legal matter)

------------------------------------------------------

TA wrote:

but I think [David Morrison] and I disagree with what having one's "sexual behavior enshrined in law" really means ... to allow a gay person to teach kids does not mean we are enshrining his sexual behavior in law to allow him to teach- it means we are enshrining his right to teach in law, regardless of what his sexual behavior is.

(my response begins now)

But the thing is that nobody has a free-standing right to any particular job. You can fire anyone for any reason, except for those forbidden in law -- "because you're black" being one such forbidden reasons, "because you're Methodist" being another, "because you're incompetent" not being one, "because you like the Chicago Cubs" not being another, and "because you're a drunken sot" not being another (for now).

So when people discuss the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (if one were to act legislatively) or declaring sexuality a suspect category for the purposes of existing job-discrimination (if judicially), the question they're really asking is: should "because you're gay" belong with the first pair (the forbidden reasons) or the second group (the acceptable reasons). And no answer to that question can be given without making a moral judgment about homosexuality and homosexual behavior.

-------------------------------------------------------------

I don't see how someone reading carefully that note or subsequent ones could have understood me to have ever been making anything other than a legal point and/or a point about the relationship between law and morality. I have never said Word One about the morality of homosexuality itself or any other free-standing moral point.


Why would I believe you were not talking about your own personal position

Because the most-basic fact about the relationship between law and morality, one that every philosopher since Plato has acknowledged in one or another sense and to varying degrees, is that the relationship is imperfect and not univocal? And that saying this needs to be explicitly stated is about as meaningful as saying the law of gravity needs to be also?

TA, one should never ever never ever, when discussing a legal point or a point about what the law should be, assume anyone is putting forth his "own personal position" on a matter of free-standing morality.


You do say that it would be a moral decision for someone to hire a gay person i.e. someone would have to take a moral stance in their own mind, and if they find it to be immoral, they should not have to hire that person. Taking that logic further, by saying that it would be moral to deny employment, is not a huge leap, especially since you didn't clearly state the opposite.

First of all, it is absolutely a leap, and one you had no right to make.

And no, you're still not getting it. I said and say that changing the law to make sexual orientation a protected class in employment law is an imposition of morality (of the secular variety). This is so because it punishes individuals for acting and associating according to a moral belief that homosexuality is wrong. One need say absolutely nothing about the virtue of that anti-gay morality itself. Why must homosexuals go around imposing their morality on everyone else through discrimination laws?


As for my sexuality being part of my private life, I did not misquote you there. You said, "But categorizing one's sexual behavior as "my personal/private life" is dubious and certainly a moral claim even if true."

You do not misquote me, but you plainly misunderstand what my quotation means if you're going to get all huffy the next morning, saying I'm "off the deep end," write a post called "Being Gay is not My Personal Life," and accuse me of saying that "an employer ... actually SHOULD fire someone for being gay."

Have you yet done any thinking over the kinds of sexual behavior that are uncontroversially regulated, limited or outlawed? If you had, you would have long ago realized how ridiculous it is to say categorically "my sex life is private" and to betray stunned outrage that anyone would be unimpressed by that claim.


In that statement, you made no reference to sexual behaviors. You are only now trying to qualify what you said.

The quote of mine you even cite says "sexual behavior," so I have no idea where you're pulling that first sentence from.

And "only now"? You wanna put money on that? David's archive is up and shows how untrue that statement is. Hint: Look for the words "Not automatically and absolutely, no" in a note from 2:53 pm on May 3.


And, as much as you hate a right to privacy legally, the law did not invade your right to privacy, only the right to privacy of gays.

Then strike it down on equal-protection grounds and require opposite-sex sodomy to be a crime too. But no, that wouldn't serve the agenda now, would it?

I have already made plain that nobody should have a constitutional right to privacy. How much more clearly can I say it. I really am starting to wonder why I'm bothering.


allow them to go into a house for this reason alone.

O brother. You are aware, I assume, of the underlying facts of the arrest of Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Garner. And of Mr. Griswold's in the 1960s?

Actually, I'm tired of these rhetorical questions. You are not familiar with them. Ignorance of the circumstances is the only excuse for putting forth that boogey-man tripe. This is why I frankly have so little respect for gay activists (of which TA is actually one of the more-reasonable ones). They create test cases and then lie ... yes, lie ... about Gestapo police tactics breaking down doors and invading houses "for this reason alone."

 
At 5/5/05 7:24 PM, Blogger Victor said...

I'm still waiting for him to say clearly whether or not it is moral to deny a gay person employment.

I already answered that to the extent I am willing to on Sed Contra: my 121pm note on May 2.

 
At 6/5/05 6:46 AM, Blogger Brady said...

Victor,

Thanks for commenting. Despite calling me ignorant and severely misunderstood, I do appreciate your comments.

You have made your points on sexuality and morality and employment abundantly clear. I may have jumped the gun in saying you absolutely thought it was moral to fire a gay person, but saying it was a "moral decision" and then refusing to say here, after being asked, to state your own opinion on the matter, makes your views pretty clear.

As to the other stuff, we are running in circles here. While you accuse me of not understanding the circumstances surrounding the Lawrence case (and especially the state's case that they SHOULD have the right to dictate morality, even if it involves going into someone's home on occasion), I'm not so sure you realize what they were.

As for equal protection- that is exactly one of the findings of the court in the Lawrence case. They didn't enact a new law to cover both gays and straights because the courts new that was absurd.

If you don't believe in a right to privacy, fine. All I can say is that I am glad the courts (even some of the more conservative justices disagree with you) and most of this nation disagree with you.

As for sexual behaviors, my apologies, you did say sexual behavior, but you brought in sexual behaviors apart from orientation only later. Referring orientation to a sexual behavior is a good way to demonize gays, and I suspect that is why you worded it that way. I know what you are elluding to when you bring up other sexual behaviors, and I am surely not going to get into a ridiculous comparison of two consenting adults and what two non-consenting or not able to consent adults do or the repercussions that might arrive for other types of illegal behaviors.

I'll end this discussion now since there seems to be no headway.

 
At 6/5/05 8:47 AM, Blogger Brady said...

One last thing to add here. Victor, in David's blog I was very obviously arguing about the rightness of including homosexuality as part of the ENDA. My questions were all directed at the idea of, "should someone be able to." Yours were directed at, "under current law, are they able to." You never answered my questions and inferences to "should they be able to "except to repeat that the law says they are able to (deny someone employment because they are gay" even though many states already protect employees based on sexual orientation.

So, why you accuse me of misunderstanding your argument, I did understand it clearly, and your opinion of the matter wasn't all that hidden.

 
At 14/1/06 5:33 AM, Anonymous Henry Straka said...

I am looking forward to your posts.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home