Ordinances Are a Vote for People

I was drinking coffee at Avo's when a couple friends, Sue Forebucks and Seymour Sharpe, walked in. "Mike," asked the lawyer Sue, "Are you going to vote for the Human Rights Ordinance?"

"Nope, I--"

"What!?!" they both said before I could finish. Seymour spoke the loudest. "I didn't think you were some throwback to the traditional ways of hatred and fear."

"Maybe he's worried about too much bureaucracy," said Sue. "The main part is several pages of legal gobbledygook -- classic bureaucratese to cover every situation. They should have just said, 'treat everyone fairly and left it at that."

"Oh sure," said Seymour. "Then lawyers like you would have plenty of work clogging our courts with test cases trying to figure out what everyone or fairly really means. They're trying to ensure the new law runs smoothly."

"As a lawyer, I know no one can write a law specific enough that it won't generate test cases," said Sue.

"I agree," I said, "and I think the human rights ordinance should be simple, modeled after the Constitution which gave everyone equal rights already."

"Actually," said Seymour, "the Constitution originally said only white males were free and could vote. It's been an uphill fight just to grant equal rights to all races and genders, much less guarantee actual equality in everyday life."

"That's one of the arguments used against gay rights," I said. "We can't equate race with sexual preference."

"I've heard people say that around the office," said Sue, "but I tell them those are different. Women's suffrage was never the same as racism. All we're doing is ensuring no person is relegated to subhuman status."

I turned to her. "Okay," I said, "but how about the whole preference argument where people say it's a personal, immoral choice?"

Seymour jumped on me. "Several errors there, my friend. First, I don't believe anyone can truly say sexual preference is a choice. Just think of yourself. Are you even tempted to do it with a guy? " He winked suggestively.

"No!" I said.

"Exactly," said Seymour, "just as you wouldn't choose to eat tapioca or stewed tomatoes. You may be able to force yourself to eat something you regard as disgusting, but you wouldn't enjoy it. Sex is an even stronger preference than food. It's an urge, an instinct. It's not a simple choice about what sort of sex you want with which gender of humanity."

"Yeah," I said, "I never understood how someone would choose to put up with the hatred and discrimination, not just from strangers but even from close friends, too. But how about the morality of it?" I asked. "Especially the people who say it's sinful?"

"Government is not in the business of morality," said Seymour.

"It's not that government should be immoral, like Clinton," said Seymour, "but that our laws should be amoral. We should leave moral judgments to churches, individuals, and God, not the government. We should use the Declaration of Independence and merely guarantee equal legal access for all humans to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, sexual or otherwise. Restricting rights, treating certain folks as less than human because you don't like them, is morally reprehensible. I would answer that hatred itself is sinful. So how come you're not going to vote for the ordinance?"

"It's not on my ballot," I said. "I live outside the city. But I would. Even though I usually don't like new laws, I will vote for people. After all, this isn't a granting of new, special rights; it's a revocation of someone's ability to discriminate."