Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Libertarian Defense of Laws Requiring Employers Not To Hire On The Basis of Sexual Orientation

Under Federal law, it is illegal to hire or not hire someone on the basis of that person's race or gender. However, with the exception of a few States, it's perfectly legal to make that decision on the basis of sexual orientation.

As a libertarian, I believe that because they take away personal freedom, all laws are inherently bad. Thus, each must cause a significant positive effect to offset that. A law that makes murder illegal is quite obviously good overall, because the protection to life it provides far outweighs the loss of freedom. Laws forcing non-discriminatory hiring though, are much more gray. Lets first examine the more general set of laws, before looking at the specific Sexual Orientation category.

Negative Effects:

Loss of freedom ... If I start a business, shouldn't I be allowed to decide who I want to work with? Losing the ability to choose who you works with in a company that you yourself founded is absolutely a negative effect. It's government interference that controls your life.

Promotion of bigotry ... The fact that we have these laws means that the majority of people are against discrimination. If discrimination was legal, then the bigotry would no longer be hidden, and would actually help kill off the bigotry faster. Example: Company A hires a homosexual man because he's more productive than the other candidates. Company B hires the less productive heterosexual man instead. As time goes by, companies that discriminate would cripple themselves, and hopefully go out of business, thereby removing bigoted people instead of forcing them to hide.

Positive Effects:

Fairness ... In the short term, people who are discriminated against have a much better chance of getting a job.

Global competitiveness ... Discriminatory hiring practices cripple a company in the long term is it is competing with companies that don't hire on the basis of performance. By forcing US companies not to discriminate, we boost our competitiveness globally.

Good Feelings ... Discrimination just feels wrong, very unpolitically correct. It makes people feel good to know that the the US is a progressive nation that enforces fairness.


I'm divided on the anti-discrimination laws. There are good and bad effects. When they were first introduced, the situation clearly called for them, because while overall in the US, most people were against discrimination, in many States, especially in the South, the majority of people were all for it, which meant that the only way to give African American's a chance was by forcing it.

In 2011 though, the problem is much diminished, and so I feel there would be a good argument for getting rid of all of them.

Sexual Orientation

All of the above is non-consequential, because the laws that already exist will never be repeal .. not in our lifetimes anyway. They are too firmly entrenched in our culture. That said, I fully support adding sexual orientation to the list or race, gender, etc, because right now, women and african americans have protections that homosexuals do not. It might be beneficial to remove ALL of the anti-discrimination laws, but it's not fair to have them for Some groups, and not others.

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