“We’ll Tell You What to Say at the DOJ!”: Throwing Religion, Morality, and “Freedom” of Speech Out the Window, Department of Justice Managers Now Must Verbally and Affirmatively Advocate for the “Rights” of Gays and Lesbians
By Ken K. Gourdin
The United States Department of Justice, trampling on the freedoms of conscience, religion, and morality of its managers, has distributed a brochure outlining the Department’s policy that managers now must verbally and affirmatively advocate for the “rights” of gays and lesbians. One way the brochure suggests I show my support is to go to gay- and lesbian-themed events. I wonder, would the DOJ’s powers-that-be be OK with it if I were to go to a local Gay Pride ™ event decked out in the most outlandish finery I could locate, get totally blotto, make a total spectacle of myself, and be charged with disorderly conduct, public intoxication, and perhaps other offenses? (After all, I did it all in the name of “tolerance,” and I’m sure no one at the DOJ cares what I do in my off hours anyway, since it doesn’t reflect badly on my employer at all! Besides, the DOJ is only concerned with enforcement and prosecution of federal statutes! It doesn’t care whether I violate local ordinances or state statutes! )
Here’s the brochure in question:
I don’t support those who engage in verbal or physical assault directed to those with same-sex orientation. I don’t support discrimination against those with same-sex orientation in schooling, housing, employment, or in any other service or amenity offered to the public. I believe everyone deserves a good education, a decent place to live, and a good job which is free from these oppressive influences. I believe that, whatever other traits a person may possess (whether those traits are racial, cultural, gender-based, socioeconomic, et cetera, he’s a human being, first and foremost.
While I have reservations about same-sex marriage, I don’t oppose same-sex couples being granted the same rights as their opposite-sex counterparts, such as hospital visitation and healthcare disclosure rights, the right to make end-of-life care decisions for one another, inheritance rights, and so on. But that’s not good enough. I also believe that (1) sex outside of marriage is wrong, and (2) marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. That said, generally, I have a “live-and-let-live” attitude toward those who do things which my religious beliefs proscribe. However, If someone asks me what I believe and why, I’m not afraid to tell him. But I don’t demand that people with a different paradigm accept my paradigm, including its moral and religious features. And as many reservations as I have about criminalizing thought, if I were a prosecutor, I wouldn’t hesitate to prosecute a violation of the law as a hate crime if I believed I could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a lawbreaker’s criminal act was motivated by bias.
But none of this is good enough. If I don’t support the lifestyle choices of gays and lesbians, I’m a bigot and a homophobe. And if I were employed by the Department of Justice—which, while I’m not, isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility, because I have both a criminal justice and a legal background—if I do not verbally and affirmatively support a lifestyle with which I disagree on religious and moral grounds, then I would be in violation of Department of Justice policy as set forth in the brochure in question. In short, in contrast to my “live-and-let-live” approach, I would be forced to accept a paradigm which is at odds with many of my deepest-held personal convictions.
[Note: It is true that the brochure wasn’t produced by the Department of Justice itself, and perhaps in the course of distributing it, the Department’s powers-that-be said something like, “We don’t necessarily agree with everything in this brochure, but it does have some things worthy of consideration.” But if that were the case, why wouldn’t the DOJ produce its own brochure for employees regarding LGBTQ-et cetera–et cetera–et cetera “tolerance, acceptance, and advocacy” so as to ensure that the brochure’s contents are wholly in line with policies the Department espouses?]
This state of affairs (that is, a government agency espousing positions with which its employees may disagree on religious or moral grounds) turns two of the most important provisions in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution on their heads: one, rather than not abridging freedom of speech—or even freedom quietly to hold certain convictions—the DOJ, through the brochure in question says, “When we want your opinion, we’ll give it to you—and we’ll force you to shout it from the rooftops”; and two, rather than not abridging freedom of religion, the DOJ, via the brochure, says, “Sure. religion is cool—as long as it’s politically correct. And we don’t care what you believe … as long as you don’t actually practice it!”
I’m reminded of a scripture in Isaiah in the Old Testament (bracketed material inserted by me): “Woe unto them that [demand that others] call evil good, and good evil; that [demand that others] put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that [demand that others] put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).