This article will deal mainly with, but touch upon other concerns, policing and LGBT rights. First, to defuse the growing rancor over police shootings, the issue must be addressed. Every high profile shooting with accompanying video only stokes the fires. Groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM) use these incidents to their media advantage. A perfect example was the shooting of a black armed suspect by a black policeman. These FACTS did not prevent looting and rioting in Milwaukee.
Still, we cannot ignore other cases where there appears to be an over-reaction by police in the use of deadly force. It is vitally important to recognize that it is much easier to look at these incidents with the benefit of hindsight. But, we are clearly not in the shoes of those police officers when these incidents occur. They often have to make split second, life and death decisions and it is all too easy to criticize when things go seemingly horribly wrong.
Absent a movement like BLM, there is distrust in the black community when it comes to law enforcement. Trotting out statistics is all well and good in the abstract, but we do not live in an abstract world. Steps must be taken to restore trust between the police and all communities.
First, the practice of the police investigating themselves needs to be scaled back. Local prosecutors are often ambivalent towards these incidents, or sometimes biased towards law enforcement. Some states have adopted the practice of having an independent special prosecutor to investigate police shootings. Other states are starting to require that prosecutors outside the immediate jurisdiction investigate these incidents and bring charges where necessary. At the very least, the deference given law enforcement- real or perceived- could be mitigated and some semblance of trust restored.
Second, clearly defined rules on the use of deadly force must be established and adopted nationwide. Dialog between law enforcement and the community on a regular basis would go a long way towards restoring trust. The overwhelming majority of police officers take their duty to serve and protect seriously. But, there is that tiny, miniscule fraction who do not. Some call it implicit bias, others call it racism. Of course, those who are biased or racist have no place on a police force. Conversely, calling all cops biased or racist serves no purpose whatsoever either.
Finally, community policing must be stressed, especially in urban areas. The police, despite the color of their skin, their sex or their ethnicity are there to serve and protect. Some may become jaded over time and take on an us-versus-them worldview. But through greater dialog between police and the community, through proper training on how to defuse potentially violent and dangerous situations, by requiring officers to get out of a patrol car and actually talk to residents and business owners within a community, perhaps some trust could be restored.
As concerns LGBT rights, many states do not have safeguards against discrimination in employment and housing when it comes to these people. Housing and employment decisions should not be based on such considerations, but on the individual abilities of a person to perform a job, pay a rent, or pay a mortgage. Perhaps federal civil rights laws should be amended to address this issue on a national level. This is an idea, I believe, conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats can support in theory.
The problem lies in the “in practice” part. Any new civil rights protections in the area of housing and employment must be balanced against the rights of others. Provided the discussion and reforms does not wade into such silly areas as bathroom and locker room use, securing fair housing and employment protections for the gay community should be endorsed.
With respect to where gay civil rights meets religious liberty rights, the government must provide adequate protections for deeply held religious convictions. In many states, the government contracts with private, often religious organizations in the area of child welfare and services, adoption, counseling and the like. The government should simply disengage from this practice and cease funding private actors. This applies across the board to all private entities such as Planned Parenthood and the like.
Secondly, clergy and religious organizations must be respected. Where the Left sees discrimination, the Right sees religious conviction. Whatever the reason, we cannot and should not delve into the sincerity of one’s religious beliefs and the scales must be in favor of religious liberty. Clergy and religious organizations must be immunized against civil suits where LGBT rights confront religious liberty. Pastor protection laws like those proposed in some states should be a priority. That extends to use of facilities owned and/or operated by religious organizations.
When these protections extend into the area of private enterprise, one cannot assume that one’s religious convictions stop at the church door, or are practiced only on Sunday. Provided there are reasonable and attainable accommodations elsewhere, private enterprises who refuse to service gays on the basis of religious grounds should likewise be immunized against civil suit, unless the aggrieved party can prove an undue burden. Private businesses should be allowed to refuse service to anyone on religious grounds. Of course, they must also be responsible for possible economic retaliation.
Third, hate crime legislation should not extend to the LGBT community. In fact, a great case can be made for the elimination of all hate crime legislation. These are simply laws that make the public and lawmakers feel good about themselves and enhance sentences, but they will never deter or eliminate hate. Instead, judges and juries should examine hatred as an aggravating circumstance when meting out sentences and punishment.
Fourth, the Left’s entire argument regarding the abortion debate is predicated upon privacy rights. But, they suddenly seem to disregard privacy rights when it comes to transgender use of facilities. The privacy rights of the non-transgender persons must be preserved, although one should support a policy of reasonable accommodation for the transgender person where feasible. However, the blanket policy of allowing a “transgender” person to use the facility of their choosing is rife with potential pitfalls and danger. Simply, there are nefarious people- child molesters, rapists- who would use these laws to their advantage. It is playing with fire in the name of political correctness.
Fifth, Title IX must be revisited and reformed. The LGBT community and the Obama administration has used Title IX to force a decidedly pro-gay agenda upon education. Title IX refers to sex discrimination in education and the definition of “sex” should be one’s biological sex, not the sex with which one identifies. It is amazing to this writer that the Left can use current civil rights legislation to force their agenda while arguing from the other side of their mouths that religious groups cannot use educational facilities. We must advance an agenda that gets back to the true meaning and purpose of Title IX.
In both areas, empathy and less vitriolic rhetoric is necessary. We can meet the gay and the black community half way if THEY are willing to do so also. Most importantly, the GOP and conservatives must put their imprimatur upon any civil rights reform legislation and prove that we are the correct side of the issue through messaging and action. Put the Left on the defensive and highlight their animus towards religion and law enforcement.