The people of Idaho, Wyoming, and North Dakota have spoken.
And they have made it clear this legislative season that they do not need a sexual orientation, gender identity (SOGI) nondiscrimination ordinance in their states.
Proponents of these types of ordinances wrongly claim that these laws are needed to prevent discrimination. But really, there is no evidence of widespread discrimination such that these laws are needed. (More on that later.) Instead, these laws create discrimination against people whose religious beliefs will not allow them to participate in, or promote, a same-sex union. (More on that later, too.)
Those who push for these laws have tried, and failed, to get a nationwide SOGI passed. Year after year, Congress has decided that such a law is unnecessary. As already mentioned, three states have recently decided not to enact a SOGI. And at the local level, attempts to enact SOGIs have been defeated in 7 cities in recent weeks, and ordinances that were previously enacted by city councils have been repealed by the voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri.
Here are some reasons these laws continue to be defeated:
1. These ordinances, if passed, force individuals to take part in events or adopt ideas that violate their faith.
Take Don and Lynn Knapp, for instance. Both ordained ministers, they operate The Hitching Post wedding chapel in Idaho. City officials threatened them with criminal prosecution and fines under the city’s SOGI ordinance if they didn’t perform same-sex ceremonies – something that goes against their religious beliefs about God’s design for marriage. After ADF filed suit to protect their First Amendment rights, the city came under intense public pressure and scrutiny that forced it to change its position and announce that the Knapps would not be prosecuted under the ordinance. However, the lawsuit is moving forward because the city has refused to amend the ordinance to make it clear that it does not cover for-profits operated according to religious beliefs, leaving other religious business owners who object to participating in same-sex ceremonies subject to prosecution.
2. SOGIs can lead to major violations of privacy.
SOGI ordinances prevent public businesses from having a restroom that is exclusively for biological men, and another that is for biological women. Instead, they require businesses to let everyone use the restroom that corresponds with whatever sex they claim to identify. The same is true with regard to locker rooms and showers in public swimming pools and fitness centers. This creates huge privacy concerns for the majority of people who do not want to share these private facilities with members of the opposite sex. It also may create safety concerns.
3. There is not a demonstrated need for these ordinances.
We are aware of no studies that indicate that there is a need for these laws. Rather, these laws are typically proposed with no evidence that they will solve an actual problem. And even after they are enacted, few cities or states keep track of how many times they are actually used because someone discriminated against someone else.
The reality, though, is that most business people don’t discriminate against anyone. They want to get as many customers as they are able to get. So SOGIs are not needed to protect against discrimination. Instead, they are being used to coerce those whose religious beliefs will not allow them to take part in, or promote, same-sex unions.
- Be vigilant in your city and stay up-to-date with the proposals that come before your city government. If you hear that a SOGI law is being considered, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-835-5233.