LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Laws work to eliminate discrimination

About the Oct. 10 letter “Cases of discrimination both just and unjust.”

The Declaration of Independence states that all men “…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…” to protect those rights. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Mr. Carreau states that these are the basis for the opinions expressed in his letter.

A summary: Jack Phillips owns a bakery in Colorado open to the public. He was approached by a gay couple wanting a cake for their wedding. He denied their request because gay marriage goes against his religious beliefs feeling that his denial was an expression of his right of free speech. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division “…for a redress of grievances”

A judge ruled that Phillips illegally discriminated against the couple according to a Colorado State law passed by lawmakers who derived “…their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Phillips denial of service has been his stated policy. These facts did not appear in the letter. (Search ACLU: Court Rules Bake) Phillips felt his First Amendment rights were denied. In turn, the gay couple felt they were basically denied their “unalienable righ, the pursuit of happiness” Mr. Carreau speculates if the couple … specifically sought out” Mr. Phillips. There is no “speculation” about “Why they were turned away” based upon the ACLU article. The case has reached the Supreme Court.

Over many years, the Congress, reflecting the “consent of the governed”, has passed several laws regarding civil rights. These were a reaction to the segregation of African-Americans, for the voting rights for women, and other “special” peoples. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that these laws are constitutional.

Colorado’s law banning discrimination is consistent with and not in conflict with the laws passed by the Congress. Civil rights apply to all Americans and are not selective based upon an individual’s birth. Just as African-Americans must be served at lunch counters, so should anyone from the LGBTQ community. One individual’s rights end when they infringe upon another’s.

The writer suggests that people choose to live together such as in “LGBTQ communities.” “Isn’t that discriminatory?” he asks. We all know that immigrants to America gathered in “Little Italy”, “Chinatown”, “Germantown” and “Frenchtown.” Many suffered from negative discrimination and bigotry. Many were forced to live in these neighborhoods, often in slums. Such was the case in my hometown where “de facto” segregation was the practice through the 1960s and beyond.

All organized religions are created by humans albeit being inspired by a supreme being. Because all humans are flawed in some fashion, so are the organized religions they have created. The tenets of one or another organized religion have often been used as an excuse to justify the discrimination of individuals or groups. Perhaps this is why the writer thinks that discrimination is part of human nature.” It is not! Babies are not born to discriminate. They learn to “discriminate…distinguish, differentiate” (Merriam-Webster 1B) to determine who their parents, family and friends are.

As they mature, they may learn to discriminate “to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than merit” (Merriam-Webster 2) Children can be taught that certain people are less worthy, deserve derision, or should be despised. Children are not born disliking or maligning others. Parents, peers or other adults teach them that it’s acceptable.

Christians believe that in Matthew 19:14 Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I believe that all humans are these “little children” regardless of age. Jesus chose to deny no one the opportunity to come to Him. He did not require everyone to believe. In Matthew 22:34-40 Jesus summarized the law stating “The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

This “love” is also respect for your neighbor. One may disagree with or even dislike one’s neighbor’s actions but one should show respect (love) to him/her. Jesus set an example that too few of us choose to follow. Humans should work to eliminate negative discrimination like racism, bigotry, misogyny and the like from “human nature.” Until they succeed the laws must suffice.

Alan P. Gaddis

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