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Chapter 17: Bigotry & Government

“I don’t much care who is gay or straight or married or not. I mostly notice if they are brave enough to confront bigotry.” —American actress, singer and dancer Jasmine Guy

What’s wrong with bigotry and government

  • A people divided. The country is too often torn apart by fierce battles over issues that shouldn’t divide us at all. A nation that’s built on freedom, individual liberties, property rights, and the rule of law simply must make those things available equally to all its citizens. Some people may always harbor bias toward those who are different, but the government should never participate in such biases.
  • Human rights for all. This nation can be proud that government no longer discriminates against people on the basis of race, creed, or national origin. (Government sometimes goes too far with quotas and reverse discrimination, but that’s a separate issue.) The next frontier is to end government bias against people on the basis of gender.
  • Gay marriage. The nation is divided on this issue partly because both sides want to use the force of law to impose their beliefs about marriage on everybody else. In a country based on individual liberty, this is entirely unnecessary.
  • Marriage and law are an odd and incompatible couple. Marriage in the United States has evolved as an odd mixture of religious ceremony and legal arrangement. The two simply don’t go well together, and that’s what causes all the friction and disagreement.

How to fix the problems

with bigotry and government

  • Divorce government from marriage. To the government, marriage should be nothing more than a legal document between consenting adults, regardless of their gender, race, or religious beliefs. It should be a matter of equal treatment under the law. Consenting adults should be free to enter into whatever legal arrangements they wish, on whatever terms to which they and their partner agree. Freedom of religion means the government shouldn’t be involved in the traditional religious aspects of marriage. Government might help clarify the issue by substituting the words “civil union” for “marriage” in all laws, government regulations, and tax codes.
  • Marriage is for churches. Churches should remain free to recognize or not recognize various types of marriages as they see fit. If some churches don’t wish to recognize gay marriage, they should have that right. Individuals would have that right as well. Couples who want a church wedding in addition to their legal agreement would be free to arrange for both.
  • End reverse discrimination. Two wrongs don’t make things right. Some laws and regulations have resulted in reverse discrimination, such as race-based hiring quotas or admission standards. Free people don’t need those kinds of favors from the government. All they need is freedom and equal treatment under the law. Freedom ends when government attempts to force equal outcomes. (See also the “Freedom chapter.”)

“I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice based on sexual orientation.” —American author and civil rights activist Coretta Scott King 

“Too small is our world to allow discrimination, bigotry and intolerance to thrive in any corner of it, let alone in the United States of America.” —U.S. Congressman Elliot Engel


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