The report by the Texas Association of Business (TAB) says, “The purpose of the research and this report is to inform state legislators, policy makers, key influencers, the business community, the media and Texas voters about potential effects on the state of Texas’ economic health should such legislation pass in 2017 or beyond.” However, much of the report, evident even from the little concrete information provided within it on exactly how the study was conducted, leads us to believe that the so-called research was actually conducted for the purposes of the organizations that sponsored and/or led the studies for the following reasons:
- To prevent businesses or any entities, or even religiously affiliated events, from making their own determinations on what is appropriate for their business, customers, workers, and/or members;
- To use the cover of non-discrimination laws to restrict First Amendment and property rights; and,
- To effectively outlaw heterosexual modesty.
For example, the Human Rights Campaign is a powerful and highly active left-progressive organization that is currently heavily invested on driving a very specific agenda when it comes to human sexuality and issues affecting sexual minorities versus the general population. It has widespread influence, and is widely used by a sympathetic mainstream media to advance a leftist-progressive view of what constitutes civil rights. For example, the HRC was the cited source by USA Today in a front-page factoid that reported that 25% of Americans personally know a transgender person, without any explanation as to how that highly dubious number was arrived at, and with no explanation to the USA Today reader of the activism of the HRC. Yet, in the TAB ‘report’, it is cited as a source for what constitutes anti-“LGBT”, without explaining what that really means. Many leftist groups in recent years have characterized opposition to Obamacare as “racist”, yet serious people understand that cannot be a determination of anything other than subjective opinion. Nonetheless, in the TAB report the HRC claim is passed as an unchallenged fact.
Last year another “pro-LGBT” study that had been touted by the media a year earlier when it was released in 2014, was exposed as a fraud when it was revealed that the study was not actually conducted as advertised. The study, called “When Contact Changes Minds,” purported to show the public’s ready acceptance of gay marriage. However, the canvassing firm the study’s author claimed to have employed said it never heard of the project—and there is no proof anyone was ever contacted for the study. The study’s author has since said he deleted all his data, making it unavailable for review.
To quote the Wall Street Journal on this and other such studies:
“Similar bias contaminates inquiries across the social sciences, which often seem to exist so liberals can claim that ‘studies show’ some political assertion to be empirical. Thus they can recast stubborn political debates about philosophy and values as disputes over facts that can be resolved by science.”
Another example of the easily evident bias of the TAB report is the way the report breezily passes over the facts of Houston’s rejection of a “pro-LGBT” ordinance (we put that in quotations to note that the idea that any given ordinance or law is either pro- or anti-anything is entirely subjective, and that we also question whether laws should be pro-anyone; and instead, believe they should be principled, limited by Constitutional constraints, and consistent in their application towards all citizens). In the Houston case, a highly controversial, very public and bitter fight that lasted well over a year, and where the “business community” as represented by the Houston Greater Partnership spent millions and far more than the opposition to support the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), resulted in a disastrous, landslide defeat for the “pro-LGBT” leftist-progressive ordinance. Nonetheless, as the report does concede, no economic boycotts occurred as a result of the very strong rejection of the ordinance. The TAB does fail to report:
- Despite claims by the ordinance proponents that the ordinance reflected “public sentiment,” the proponents strenuously fought having the public vote.
- It is the only known instance of a popular vote on the issue.
- The rejection of the ordinance occurred in a city that voted a gay mayor into office three times in a row, and as it voted a liberal African-American mayor into office (therefore, the rejection by two-to- one of the ordinance clearly crossed the usual ideological lines, and was not merely based on conservative or right-wing opposition).
The report talks about surveys of businesses. But, it does not say exactly who at these businesses was surveyed. For all we know, corporate diversity consultants, with financial and career vested interests, answered the surveys (we find that very plausible, especially given what happened in Houston, as we discuss below).
While the TAB takes issue with religious freedom laws, or rather, takes aim at them, it provides no information on the nature of the new left-progressive laws that are being passed, such as Houston’s ordinance, and therefore, no context on why these religious freedom laws, many of which we agree are counter-productive, are now sprouting across the country. Again taking Houston’s ordinance as an example, that law actually made “expression” illegal, even absent any concrete action, and added an entire new layer of unaccountable bureaucracy to which even a small sandwich shop owner would be subject. At the time, neither the media nor the proponents mentioned these aspects of the law, and in some cases falsely claimed the new law was only a local version of the federal Civil Rights Act (it was not).
Furthermore even GLBT business owners can suffer from onerous, heavy-handed non-discrimination laws, as occurred in Denver, after a similar “pro-LGBT” law was passed. In 2014, not long after Denver’s law was passed, the owner of a gay bar was the first legal casualty because, as the city determined, by catering to what is known in the gay community as a “bear” clientele, the bar was guilty of illegal discrimination. We sincerely doubt this is what even most gay business owners have in mind when they think of “pro-LGBT” legislation. And yet, the TAB report would have you believe it is so.
We agree that there are many legitimate issues that we as a society must grapple with in terms of how we balance First Amendment and property rights against the need of citizens of all beliefs and persuasions to be able to freely go about their daily lives. And, we recognize that properly written non-discrimination statutes and ordinances have a place in our society. So do properly written protections of First Amendment and property rights. It is for this reason that we have formed a formal coalition with the Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas and the Log Cabin Republicans of Texas, and are in active talks with other groups looking to join, to tackle this issue in our own state of Texas, in the hopes of yielding new answers that actually address these questions in a principled, and broadly supported manor – truly reflective of public sentiment; and by the same, to put an end to stealthy far-left attempts to restrict freedoms, and potentially overreaching responses from the right in response to those attempts.
What we do not support is blind approval of such non-discrimination statutes and ordinances, no matter how lofty their names, when they are being used as a vehicle to restrict everyone’s legitimate First Amendment and property rights – these being the basis and foundation of all other rights; nor do we support blind opposition to any efforts to fend of these serious encroachments on core American liberties. We find the TAB report is blind on both counts.
Contact: Jonathan Gaspard,
TYRF Policy Director