Monday, June 29, 2009

Because the government can tell two women and their children that they are not a family ...

... is why it is not always a good idea to rely completely on the State to safeguard your civil liberties.

From Classically Liberal:

Lava Hot Springs Park [Idaho] is a government-owned “recreation” center that announced a family discount. It then told a lesbian couple and their children that they don’t count as a real family and won’t get the discount. The park used state marriage laws as the excuse for that. When they got some flack over the unequal policy they announced that they would solve it by stripping all families of discounts. You should note that they are doing this over a few dollars....

What the local Chamber of Commerce said was that they were asked about their views toward “gay and lesbian visitors” and that the Board of the Chamber unanimously agreed that “we want all to know that we hope this isolated incident won’t dissuade visitors from exploring our community and, indeed, the rest of Idaho. The Lave Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce feels that all are welcome in our community and we look forward to showing them our Idaho hospitality.”

On one hand we have a government-owned park making a same-sex couple and their children feel especially unwelcome while the Chamber of Commerce, that represents 70 businesses in the area, is going out of its way to tell people that they welcome everyone as visitors in their community. I am not the least bit surprised by this.

He follows with a theoretical digression into markets as better protectors of civil liberties than governments, concluding:

In Lava Hot Springs the local businesses don’t want to alienate customers. They want to welcome everyone. The non-profit, state-controlled park doesn’t have to satisfy customers. It doesn’t exist purely on the basis of profit. They have no major incentive to treat people right. They can afford to be legalistic, bureaucratic and stodgy. They can ignore the realities of life since they are government controlled and owned and they don’t have to make a profit. They can treat people like shit, businesses can’t.

What I have never understood is why so many progressives and advocates of diversity believe that state control will make life better for those who suffer discrimination. It isn’t the private community that is refusing to recognize gay couples—it is the state. Only six states have recognized gay marriage. Hundreds of the largest corporations in the United States recognized those relationship years ago. Even when a radical progressive like Barack Obama gets into office he’s happy to screw the gay community around for months, refusing to keep his promises. What Obama won’t do, private businesses have done quietly and with little conflict for years.

I am not agreeing that everything would be all right if all civil liberties protections were market-based, not Constitution-based.

But this does make a strong argument that, especially within the so-called grey areas, trusting the State to interpret those issues is not necessarily a wise decision.

1 comment:

Miko said...

Also, market-based solutions allow incremental improvements. One business/non-profit org./etc. can change its policies without having to wait for everyone else to catch up. On the other hand, a city that wants to legalize same-sex marriage has to wait for the state its located in, which in turn has to wait (to some extent) for the U.S. to repeal DOMA. Centralization naturally tends to lead to conservatism.