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All Da King's Men

Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others

By David King Published: November 9, 2013

The Senate passed legislation to prevent workplace discrimination again lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people (LGBT):

For the first time, the U.S. Senate approved legislation that would protect gay, lesbian and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace.

The Employment Nondiscrimination Act, or ENDA, passed the Democratic-led chamber on Thursday, 64 to 32.

Ten Republicans joined 52 Democrats and two Independents in supporting the bill. Four Senators did not vote.

I don't know how much LGBT workplace discrimination is taking place, but naturally, LGBT folks should not be discriminated against on the job, or anywhere else for that matter. A pox on anyone who says otherwise (this means you, GOP opponents). We should all be treated equally. That's a pretty basic concept in a free country.

But I've grown weary of these penny-ante rights carveouts for this group or that group. When are we going to adopt one set of rights that applies to everyone ? I mean, the Declaration Of Independence did declare that "all men are created equal" right from the beginning.  Back in the day, that actually meant "all white men are created equal", which excluded women and blacks, but we've come a long way, baby. We have corrected those wrongs, and we should be living the true meaning of the principle. We also have the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law to all citizens. Here's the key section:

No state shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

It seems pretty clear to me that our laws should apply equally to all, and it shouldn't be necessary to keep passing limited scope rights legislation like ENDA, when we could pass one all-encompassing piece of rights legislation and be done with it.

Here is the existing list of workplace discrimination laws, from the EEOC:

- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;

- the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination;

- the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older;

- Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments;

- Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government;

- Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on genetic information about an applicant, employee, or former employee; and

- the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which, among other things, provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination

Why do we have all these laws ? Why don't we have ONE law, which states something along the lines of, "no qualified American citizen will be discriminated against in the workplace, and no American citizen will be discriminated against by government legislation".  That should cover it. The only reason to deny a person a job should be if the person is not qualified and/or is unable to perform the required job duties. As things stand now, some people are covered by discrimination laws (race, sex, age, disability, etc), and others are not covered by discrimination laws (smokers, obese people, gays, felons, etc). Until this or that group of people are seen as an 'interest group', our politicians don't seem to care much about them. Thus, we end up with a scattershot discriminatory workplace environment where a person who smokes can be denied a job, but a disabled or transgendered person cannot. That makes no sense to me. We passed legislation known as Obamacare that doesn't allow higher insurance premiums to be charged to a sick person with heart disease, but does allow higher insurance premiums to be charged to a perfectly healthy person who smokes cigarettes. That is discriminatory.

We are against discrimination, except when we are for it. As Orwell wrote long ago in his brilliant novel, Animal Farm, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." So it is still in America today.

On the subject of government-sanctioned discrimination, think about how discriminatory is our tax code. Some businesses and special interests get tax credits and subsidies. Others do not. Some people have to pay no income tax. Others have to pay 39.6% (and Democrats want them to pay even more) . If you purchase one kind of car, you get a tax credit. If you purchase another kind of car, you get nothing. It goes on and on and on and on. Our tax code is about four million words of largely discriminatory rules and regulations.  Obamacare is another massively discriminatory piece of legislation, with it's winners and losers. What happened to equal protection under the law ?

If our politicians were forced by law to treat all citizens equally, I suspect our divisive political battles would be greatly minimized. The special interest army of lobbyists would be greatly reduced if there were no special favors to be handed out. Maybe then, our politicians would think more about what is best for the country, as opposed to which interest group they can pander to in order to get re-elected. As a result, perhaps our politics would become less corrupt. Martin wasn't the only one with a dream.

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