A recent Letter to the Editor in the Forum by Fargo resident Ben Lambrecht calls for North Dakota to use the heavy hand of government to stop discrimination against the LGBTQ community in the workplace. A call that has been defeated in the Legislature multiple times over the last five sessions. And for good reason.
While I understand the frustrations of the LGBTQ community and their desire to be accepted by the mainstream of society, using government force as a means of gaining that acceptance is wholly inappropriate and misguided. Why? Because you can’t force someone to accept you, much more like you. And besides, why would you want to?
Furthermore, forcing someone to associate with you or to give you a job or even to rent you a place to live violates their right of association (or disassociation) and private property rights. The idea that they must be forced to do these things indicates that you have a right to their association, their job opening, and place to live… when the reality is that you don’t.
By now, someone has inevitably come to the conclusion that I am a bigoted homophobe. Not so. I just don’t believe that forced acceptance works. Take a place of employment for example. Suppose that the employer really despises those in the LGBTQ community. Why would anybody in that community want to work with or for such an employer?
Passing laws such as Lambrecht calls for does little to nothing to change people’s views. The heavy hand of government may well threaten people with legal consequences should they be convicted of discrimination, but can government ever change the heart of the individual? Never.
Let’s suppose that legislation had passed and was signed into law. How is it to be enforced? How can it be proven that someone was refused service and been denied employment or housing based off of discrimination of their sexual orientation and gender identity? For the most part, it can’t. When anti-discrimination laws are put into place, they cause those that discriminate to do so in a more discreet way.
If those in the LGBTQ community want the high ground on this one, then they need to stop trying to employ the force of government to gain the acceptance they so desperately are looking for.