Point / Counterpoint: Is the Equality Act Good for the Jews?

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6 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    If one takes R Broyde’s position to its logical conclusion, then the advocates of Torah observance have no business arguing for their way of life in the public arena. That is precisely why there is a Free Exercise clause in the First Amendment. When proponents of equal protection argue that adherents of any religious denomination must always yield when it comes to deeply held beliefs, that is tantamount to urging nullification of the Free Exercise Clause and its protections

  2. Steve Brizel says:

    FWIW, the SCOTUS has granted certiorari to a case from Montana that challenges the constitutionality of the Montana version of the Blaine Amendment, which prohibits state aid to parochial schools — thus setting up a major decision as to whether the decisions on the Establishment Clause ( as evidenced by the case involving a cross in a veterans’s cemetery) are due for substantial revision and retrenchment from a posture that elevates concerns for atheists at the expense of those who thank God every day that there is a Free Exercise Clause.

  3. Tal Benschar says:

    I am astounded by Rabbi Broyde’s argument, which appears woefully ignorant about the basics of civil rights laws, their operation, and recent controversies about their application.

    Federal law does not ban all forms of discrimination, it bans discrimination in certain areas (employment, public accommodation, housing). And it only bans discrimination on certain bases – race, sex, religion, etc. The Equality Act would add sexual orientation to that list. A good summary is on Wikipedia: “The Equality Act is a bill in the United States Congress, that, if passed, would amend the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system.”

    So, first of all, it is not illegal for a private person to discriminate in hiring a painter to paint his house, even under the current recognized forms of discrimination.

    Second, where the most conflict with religious principles has been in “public accommodation,” which has been very broadly construed to encompass any business generally providing goods or services to the public. Hence the repeated wedding cake baking controversies (one of which went to the Supreme Court).

    So how would that affect Orthodox Jews? Here are some likely scenarios:

    (1) A shul operates a wedding hall (or smaller simcha hall) on its premises, which it rents out for weddings or simchas. Someone wants to rent it out for a same-sex marriage, or an engagement party for a same-sex engagement.

    (2) An Orthodox person lets out a room for rent to make extra money. A gay person wants to rent it, and makes clear he or she will be entertaining friends there. Alternatively, an Orthdox single wants to rent an apartment near work or school, and lists an ad for a roommate. Again, a gay person answers the ad, and says he or she wants the room and is willing to keep a kosher kitchen. (The latter was ruled discrimination in San Francisco under local law.)

    (3) A Jewish publication takes advertisements of all kinds of businesses and events, and also carries a “Mazel Tov” listing for various simchas. Someone wants to place an advertisement about an event for a same-sex weekend, or wish a Mazel Tov to a recently engaged same-sex couple.

    (4) A rabbi regularly performs wedding for his congregants and their children. The child of one congregant decides they want to marry someone of the same sex, and demands the rabbit perform it.

    (5) An out of town Orthodox school accepts students of various backgrounds, including some families that are not fully observant. A same-sex Jewish couple decides they want to sign up their child.

    All of these would be illegal discrimination under the new law, most as public accommodation, No. (2) as housing discrimination.

    Remember that the proposed law expressly states that RFRA does not apply. Some of these might be subject to Constitutional challenge, but that will take significant resources to litigate.

    So this can and will impact Orthodox life. And in this case, there has been a concerted effort by those who are the beneficiaries of the law to seek out businesses they can sue. The would-be customers of the cake-baker in Colorado did so, as did the current plaintiff suing him. They want to make a point, not buy a cake. There are enough in the Jewish community who would do the same.

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    One can argue that R Broyde’s logic and conclusions as to the vitality of religious values in the market place of ideas have been rejected by the SCOTUS which has repeatedly upheld the rights of religiously based and oriented clubs to organize as an extracurricular activity on public school grounds and in so doing has rejected arguments that the Establishment Clause bars such activities.

  5. nt says:

    Many people on the left care more about replacing American society- which is essentially Judeo-Christian- with their version of an ideal society. Naturally, they would be the ones running the show. To achieve their aims, they constantly condemn America as discriminating against “marginalized”, i.e. not Judeo-Christian, groups such as LGBT and Muslims. They don’t actually care about the individual members of either group; supporting both at the same time is logically impossible. Instead, they just want to claim the moral high ground as they reconfigure society around their whims.

  6. Bob Miller says:

    Knowing who is pushing a piece of legislation takes us a long way toward understanding what it’s really for. The actual wording in the legislation can be to inform us or to delude us.

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