Regular readers will know very well that I am a confirmed atheist and that I think that religion is stupid. However, I think that there are more ridiculous and dangerous views out there (scientology and socialism, for instance) and so I must accept that many people are very, very fucking stupid. However, I am also a libertarian and this issue is very simple for a libertarian.
The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties policy institute, today issues the following statement on the legitimacy of anti-discrimination laws. This statement is prompted by the continuing debate over the Equality Act 2006, which allows the British Government to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Libertarian Alliance Director, Dr Sean Gabb, says:
"Every person has the right to life and justly-acquired property, and to do with his own whatever does not infringe the equal rights of others.
"From this primary right can be derived all the rights of the liberal tradition - freedom of expression and contract and association, together with security against oppressive or arbitrary behaviour by the State.
"It does not generate any right not to be hated or despised or shunned.
"It does not justify laws against discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion or sexual orientation, or laws against expressing or inciting hatred against any group.
"If someone chooses, for whatever reason, not to employ homosexuals because of their homosexuality - or not to rent property to them, or not to provide other paid services to them - that is his right within the liberal tradition. By such behaviour, he is not committing any aggression against others. He is merely exercising his right NOT to associate or NOT to contract. No one who is thereby refused suffers any harm that is, within the liberal tradition, to be considered actionable.
"The same reasoning fully applies to discrimination on the other grounds of race, sex and religion.
"By forcing people to associate with or contract with persons whom they would otherwise reject, anti-discrimination laws are an attack on life and property. They are a form of coerced association. They give some people uncompensated claims on others. They amount to a form of slavery mediated by the State.
"Politically correct authoritarians like to hail each new set of anti-discrimination laws as an extension of human rights. Such laws are in fact violations of the only human rights that mean anything.
If Catholics agencies do not want to place children with gay parents, then that is absolutely fine because they are not the sole provider of adoption services.
If people do not like the Church's attitude on this, then they can stop placing the children with Catholic adoption agencies. It really is that simple.
It's called "freedom", you see; some of you may have forgotten what that is, but it involves personal choice and not state coercion.
UPDATE: bookdrunk has a reply that is almost disappointingly measured...
For one, while Catholic adoption agencies might not be the sole provider of that service, they are being paid with public money for whatever service they do provide. The argument that "if people do not like the Church's attitude on this, then they can stop placing the children with Catholic adoption agencies" only applies when individuals are directly involved in placing their child up for adoption. In the majority of cases, the state performs that role and makes decisions on our behalf concerning the welfare of children who do not have families that can support them. It's certainly not a simple question of personal preference.
I apologise for my lack of understanding as to how the adoption system works, but if the state does not support anti-gay sentiments then maybe there might be room for other people to start non-discriminatory adoption agencies with whom the state could place children instead? Part of the problem, though, is that it is very difficult to set up anything that deals with children as there are so many intrusive and constricting regulations (whether you think that these regulations are necessary or whether they actually do the job that they are supposed to is a debate for another day).
The point here is that if there is no difference between a gay couple and a heterosexual couple in terms of the child's benefit, which is what the anti-discrimination law is saying, then we—those of us who are not religious loons—should not worry about whether those who adopt said child are gay or not.
But the law has not been made for the child's benefit, it has been made for the benefit of homosexuals who want to adopt. Therefore, if homosexuals wish to adopt a child, they should go to a non-Catholic agency.
I still fail to see the problem here.
UPDATE 2: having said all that, bookdrunk's point about "1 penis good, 2 penis bad", which I raised on 18DS the other night, is a load of lunacy.
Yes, the Catholic Church is actually in favour of gay single parent families: one penis good, two penis bad. And then there's the awesome threat of multiple vaginas - nunneries have never seemed more like unexploded ordinance.
Which is why I'll defend the Catholic church's right to make certain decisions, but I won't necessarily support the Church or those decisions per se.