Hadn't thought of it like that before.
David Neiwert, aka Orcinus, has an interesting post on the recent move in Oregon to get rid of discrimination against gays that was recently scuttled in the state Senate by the Republicans with the help of--in his words--a couple of DINOs. But here's the part of his discussion I really enjoyed:
Interestingly, there was this:
The Senate Republican caucus yesterday handed out a five-page "talking points" document opposing the measure. One of the talking points states: "This bill establishes minority status for individuals based on sexual behaviors many believe they choose to engage in."
Ah yes. We've heard this line before. Because being gay is a "chosen behavior," it is undeserving of civil rights protections.
It's the same reason given by many evangelicals -- and particularly black and minority evangelicals, and people who claim they support civil rights -- for not supporting gays and lesbians in hate-crime protections: "You can't compare being gay to being black. One's immutable, one's chosen."
Well, yes, this is true when it comes to race. And even ethnicity. These are, after all, two of the three main legs of anti-discrimination and hate-crimes laws.
But it's not true of the third leg of these laws: religion. Last I checked, this too was a "chosen behavior."
In RCW 49.60, the matter of faith is defined more broadly as "creed." This thus includes atheism, agnosticism, and other belief systems.
Now, it's true that many people are born into faiths and don't really choose their creed, but it's also a fact that everyone is free to change their creed at any time of their choosing. It's truly a chosen behavior.
Now I've long made the argument that whether homosexuality is chosen or genetic is irrelevant--gays are humans and are thus deserving of the same treatment and rights as heterosexuals, bisexuals and asexuals. But from a legal standpoint, Neiwert has a terrific point here--there is no more chosen behavior than that of which religion to belong to, or not to belong to as the case may be. And I'm a perfect example of that.
I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, and continued to be one well into my adult years. I left the church when I was 26--a conscious, deliberate decision. I've been non-religious--some would say irreligious--ever since then. I'm glad that we have discrimination protection for people based on their religious beliefs or lack thereof--it's inherent in my understanding of the First Amendment. But if anti-gay activists want to make the argument that gays don't deserve protection because they're engaging in chosen behavior, then they better be ready to give up their religious protections as well.