The former head of Focus on the Family is as anti-LGBTQ as ever. Dobson reminded me that, 36 years ago, Coretta Scott King urged passage of what is now the Equality Act.

James Dobson
It should surprise no one that James Dobson is still a rabid anti-LGBTQ bigot

Photo: Lancaster Online, 2018

Friday, James Dobson decided to articulate his views on the Equality Act with WND. American Family Association, an anti-LGBT hate group has decided to summarize the WND piece written by one of WND’s dim bulbs, Bob Unruh. The headline from AFA reads: Dobson: Dems using ‘Equality Bill’ to snuff out Christianity. Somehow an anti-discrimination measure has become a weapon against an entire group of people, most of whom do not discriminate against LGBTQ people.

AFA explains:

Following the Democrats’ introduction of their proposed “Equality Act” that would grant the LGBTQ community even more special privileges while usurping Americans’ religious freedom, evangelical leader Dr. James Dobson warns that the legislation is a Trojan Horse that will ultimately keep Christians from living out their faith.

I thought that “special privileges” went the way of the “homosexual agenda.” Equal protection and due process are not special privileges. Special privileges defines the belief by some Christians that their religion permits them to violate local nondiscrimination laws.

If anything is a Trojan Horse it is promotion of AFA/Dobson’s version of “living out their faith.” They want our citizens to accept the notion that there is a religious duty to discriminate against people they disapprove of. They frame that duty as the avoidance of sin. The reality is that people discriminate, not to avoid being in league with Satan, but to demonstrate their disapproval.

The conservative Christian literalists believe that gay sex and gender transitions are sinful. Their religious duty, if they accept the dogma, is limited to not having gay sex and not transitioning if they have gender dysphoria. Were Christian businesses to discriminate against everyone whom they define as a sinner they would have no customers. All that pent-up disapproval comes our way because we are more visible in some circumstances without inquiry.

“Make no mistake – the so-called Equality Act is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to finish off religious liberty in America once and for all, which ought to be plainly obvious based upon a cursory reading of the First Amendment,” the Founder of Focus on the Family alerted Americans, according to WND.

The above is hyperbolic nonsense. There is no hidden agenda. We should have the same rights as Christians to be free of discrimination. The law prohibits conservative Christians from discriminating against Muslims and Jews who do not accept Jesus as lord and savior. Behind all that support for Israel there is a great deal of anti-Semitism. Yet these businesses have survived.

Indeed, there are nine Chick-fil-A outlets in New York City. They are required to hire and promote LGBTQ people and to serve them without discrimination. They have not gone out of business due to anti-discrimination protections. One of their managers might even be LGBTQ and no lightning bolts (that I am aware of) have targeted one of their stores.

I understand the notion that serving a gay couple makes them complicit in that couple’s sin. Proprietors assume certain obligations as public accommodations in return for the public’s subsidies (roads, infrastructure, sanitation, fire protection, police etc.). That’s the deal. If your piety is so extreme that it affects your business judgment then you need to consider your options. Dobson is making the familiar argument that religious liberty means the liberty to discriminate. It is nonsensical drivel.

Dobson as constitutional expert:

“The proposal – H.R. 5 and S. 788 – would provide special protections for the LGBT community throughout American society,” WND informed. “It would state that religious beliefs are not a defense in a dispute between gay rights and constitutionally protected religious rights.”

Constitutionally protected religious rights are free exercise. American jurisprudence since at least 1879 (Reynolds v. U.S.) has defined that to mean the right to believe and to worship as one pleases. It does not extend any rights with respect to conduct.

Radical agenda — Of course:

“I wish I could say I was shocked to see the speed with which Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have brought to committee the sweet sounding – but entirely treacherous – Equality Act,” Dobson expressed. “This decision demonstrates a frightening willingness by those on the left to advance a radical social agenda at a time when our nation already faces so many other divisive challenges. Simply put, by creating a protected class of citizens out of the LGBT community, this bill places Christians who believe in traditional marriage at grave legal and civil jeopardy.”

“Christians who believe in traditional marriage.” Translation: Christians who disapprove of same-sex marriage. The solution for them is simple. If they disapprove of gay marriage then they should not gay marry.

But there is more. 21 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico have nondiscrimination laws protecting sexual orientation and gender identity. On top of that there are numerous counties and municipalities that have the same protections. Throughout the United States only a couple of bakers, a florist, a caterer and a photographer (plus a few more nuts and bolts) have a problem. We know their names.

LGBTQ citizens are due protections throughout the United States. Dobson is promoting sheer bigotry.

The usual wedge strategy:

He explained how the problematic proposed laws deceitfully portray homosexual behavior as if it is an inherited trait – similar to one’s eye color and ethnicity.

“While no evangelical Christian would ever support hate or violence of any kind against an LGBT individual – or any other person for that matter – to modify the 1964 Civil Rights Act with this wrong-headed bill would not only be legally fraught, it would also put moral equivalence to the unprecedented, centuries-long struggle of countless millions of African Americans to gain freedom from slavery and the persistent, systematic oppression that followed,” the Christian leader argued. “[Whereas] the Civil Rights movement of the ‘60s was born out of deep faith and in congruence with God’s Word, this bill tramples both underfoot.”

Please. There are plenty of conservative Christians capable of violence against LGBTQ people. Dobson’s argument is not supported by African American leadership. Almost every Civil Rights leader from the 60s supports or supported LGBTQ equality including Representatives John Lewis and James Clyburn; Delegate (DC) Eleanor Holmes Norton and the late Julian Bond. The NAACP is a vigorous supported of LGBTQ equality and supports HR 5.

Dobson’s “systematic oppression” includes the preposterous assertion that sexual orientation and gender identity are choices. Even if that were true (and it is not) religion is certainly a choice and it is a protected class. Dobson might counter that religion has constitutional protections. However, there is nothing in the First Amendment or regarding free exercise that protects people from religious discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was necessary for that to be the law of the land.

Utter bullshit:

“In fact, I believe that if Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, we would be standing together in opposition to the Equality Act,” Dobson continued. “We must refrain from the dangerous tendency to divide America into smaller and smaller sub-groups defined first and foremost by our grievances. We are one nation, under God, and we are already blessed with a Constitution and First Amendment that protects every American – without criminalizing our most sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Dr. King’s late wife, Coretta Scott King, said just the opposite and I think that she is a more reliable source than Dobson. In August, 1983 Ms. King urged the amendment of the Civil Rights Act to include gays and lesbians as a protected class which is exactly what HR 5 would do (with the addition of gender identity) 36 years later.

From there AFA goes to Mad Mad Staver and the views of several other hate groups including Alliance Defending Freedom. They all make the same arguments. Ultimately they are seeking Christian privilege which includes a right to discriminate. Their hate necessitates what they hate. They also go to conversion therapy bans which have nothing to do with the Equality Act.

The primary reason that these people promote conversion therapy is to then claim that sexuality is a choice; just as Dobson has done (above). HR 5 will probably die at the end of the session. It will come again, in 2020 and 2021. If we all do what we are supposed to do and vote we can see this thing pass in 2021.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.