Bruce Majors: My Freedom of Association, and Yours

From Libertarian activist Bruce Majors at Red State:

It’s tempting to ask a Murray Rothbard or Gabriel Kolko style question about whether complying with anti-discrimination laws — diversity in marketing and advertising, maintaining records on employee demographics, publishing pro-inclusion conduct manuals, retaining a law firm to deal with regulatory complaints — doesn’t penalize all small and upstart businesses and favor giant corporations. But rather than worry about either Olson’s big businesses or Friedersdorf’s mom and pop shops, what about the businesses that “exclude” straight people because they intend to serve gays and lesbians?

There are lots of gay businesses that exclude non-gays, and lesbian ones that exclude heterosexuals, and even gay men or transgender people: lesbian-oriented Olivia cruises (founded in 1988) , gay male Atlantis Events cruises (founded in 1991), the Michigan Womyn’s music festival, and around 4,800 gay-oriented hotels, resorts and B&Bs worldwide (I’ve stayed at several, and, in Ft. Lauderdale seen one turn away a straight couple, who I assume were named something like Pat and Chris, who had made reservations, and were no doubt attracted by the adjoining high end spa featured on B&B’s web site).

Now some of these businesses would probably claim that they don’t actually discriminate against heterosexuals, men, etc. Not the 39 year old, outdoor, radical feminist/lesbian separatist Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, which faced protests last year from the LGTB group Equality Michigan, for its explicit policy of excluding male-to-female transsexuals (as opposed to “women born women” with two X chromosomes). The Festival, which has up to 10,000 attendees each summer, also maintains a separate camp for the sons of lesbian moms, Brother Sun Camp (whose alums have their own facebook group), since little boys are excluded from the Festival, even if with a lesbian mom or moms, and must be dropped off across the highway at a separate camp.

On the other hand, the lesbian cruise company, Olivia (annual revenues around $25 million), technically allows men, kind of, as did its earlier incarnation, Olivia Records. According to Olivia’s founder Judy Dlugacz, a formidable organizer and business woman (and red diaper baby), she hired one male-to-female transgender sound engineer for her old record company, Olivia Records, in the 70s, which famously produced an anthology album “Lesbian Concentrate” in response to Anita Bryant. And, according to Dlugazc, a very few men have actually gone on one of Olivia’s cruises (which, unlike Rosie O’Donnell’s cruises for gay families of both genders, are marketed only to lesbians, mainly well heeled 30-60 something lesbians), That’s probably prudent for Olivia, which is incorporated in California (as is Atlantis Events, the gay male cruise company, which has somewhat larger revenues). Unlike Michigan, California has anti-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation. But the clock is ticking for Ms. Dlugacz and other LGBT oriented business owners. In the wider world companies are often fined or sued if their advertising and marketing doesn’t include outreach to a wide variety of races, sexes, etc. Indeed, in Washington, D.C., where sexual orientation is a protected class under local fair housing law (and where Ms. Dlugacz lives half the year with her partner, an Obama political appointee at the Agency for International Development, tasked with working on gay issues), large corporate owned rental apartments have for some years used groups of models in their ads that most people interpret as being either groups of gay men or gay couples. Anyone licensed in any housing related field is compelled to take continuing “education” courses every two years on fair housing where they are “taught” they must be inclusive in where they spend advertising dollars. Why should Olivia (or Atlantis Events) be free to spend its advertising budget as it chooses, targeting (and picturing) only women or lesbians (or in the case of Atlantis, shirtless young men)?

I won’t be surprised if people in the “traditional marriage” movement, who have lost on the issue of marriage equality, become civil rights Social Justice Warriors, and sue all of these businesses out of existence. And could one blame them? I almost welcome it, just to make the point that if you want to begin outlawing all freedom of association (and freedom of belief) then two can play that game. As a realtor in Washington, D.C. I have actually had a (very nice) lesbian couple ask me if I could tell them about the gay and lesbian neighbors on a block where they were looking at rowhouses. I’ve had to tell clients like them — usually self-described left-liberal Democrats, frequently employed by political campaigns and lobbying groups — that if they want to look in Virginia, where sexual orientation is not a protected class, I can answer that question; but in D.C., providing any information about anyone’s sexual orientation in a real estate transaction is grounds for me to lose my license. (The response: “Oh, that law is there to protect me. You can tell me!” So much for equality before the law.) Real estate developers are just beginning to discuss gay oriented nursing homes and 55+ communities, so let’s nip that in the bud too. (The list is endless – gay oriented health care providers, etc., etc.) Gay-oriented businesses have banned straight people, at least in large or organized groups, before. In the past decade it became popular to hold heterosexual bridal parties at gay male bars, which began banning them, in some cases because the regular clients didn’t want straight women there, and in some cases as a protest for marriage equality. (The Welcoming Committee, a gay group that “takes over,” primarily heterosexual bars in a kind of social media flash mob, seems to be welcome to do so, though it works it out with the owners in advance.) The existence of gay-oriented businesses in a jurisdiction with anti-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation seems totally dependent on there not (yet) being an aggrieved, rent-seeking plaintiff on the lookout for damages. It’s possible some LGBT oriented businesses can deter straight people from moving in just by pitching themselves at price points that only higher income consumers can afford, and then count on upper income heterosexual progressives being polite and not sticking their noses into venues not intended for them. But that also means these same LGBT businesses may be deep pockets attractive to any shakedown grifter who wants to use an anti-discrimination law for a nice settlement.

Read the full article here.

6 thoughts on “Bruce Majors: My Freedom of Association, and Yours

  1. BruceMajors

    Oh come on honey. I’ve only run twice. And I recruited like 8 candidates last year. So I mainly recruit, I don’t run (or reproduce).

  2. Jed Ziggler Post author

    Is that better? I’ve worked like 12 days in a row now so bear with me. And I don’t reproduce either, though god knows I keep trying!

    Also, Red State? Really? I feel like the NSA now thinks I’m a Republican after going to that site.

  3. Bruce Majors (@BruceMajors4DC)

    I was just teasing you. You know I offered this to Austin Petersen, reason.com and The Daily Caller, among others. The guy I used to deal with at reason has changed positions, and DC told me it was too long for them. Everyone else ignored it so I put it at RedState.

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