Rand Paul Is Right: Civil Rights Aren’t Simple Rights

Something recently happened in England that warrants revisiting Rachel Maddow’s (in?)famous 2010 interview with Rand Paul concerning the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In April of this year, Rachel Maddow also revisited that interview, following Rand’s visit to Howard University, during which he answers a question from a student with the sentence: “I do question some of the ramifactions and extensions, and I have never come out in opposition to the Civil Rights Act … I have never questioned the Civil Rights Act”.

Rachel shows a clip of Rand’s giving that answer and then repeats, out of context, “I have never questioned the Civil Rights Act”. The context is important because it includes his explicit qualification that he does question the ramifications of the act beyond race.

Nevertheless, Rachel accuses Rand of “flat-out lying”, and to prove her point, she runs another interview that Rand had given in 2010 with the Louisville Courier Journal News paper, which went as follows.

LCJ: “Would you have voted for the Civil Rights of 1964?”
RP: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains. I am all in favor of that.”
LCJ: “But?”
RP: [Laughs] “You had to ask me the “but”. I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners – I abhor racism; I think it’s a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant – but at the same time I do believe in private ownership.”

Cutting back to Rachel in the studio, “That is Rand Paul, questioning the Civil Rights Act”.

She accuses Rand of having a sketchy record on racial discrimination and civil rights law, and of being condescending in thinking he can get away with his lie. She even displays this headline in the New Yorker: “Rand Paul, at Howard University, Pretends He Favored the Civil Rights Act”, to reinforce visually the idea that Rand is a) dishonest and b) disfavors the Civil Rights Act.

That was itself dishonest, and as someone who likes Maddow (and even has a signed copy of her book on my shelf), I am disappointed that Rachel didn’t think so. In her interview with Rand from 2010, Rand was clear:

“There are ten different titles to the Civil Rights Act and nine out of ten deal with public institutions and I am absolutely in favor of [them]. One deals with private institutions, and had I been around, I would have tried to modify that. But the other thing about legislation – and this is why it is a little hard to say where you are sometimes – is that when you support nine out of ten things in a good piece of legislation, do you vote for it or against it?”

They are not the words of a man who disfavors the Civil Rights Act, or is trying to be dishonest about his views of it. They are the words of a man who favors nine tenths of it and, because of his concern for civil rights, is worried about the gutting of one principle critical to everyone’s enjoyment of liberty – private property – to help extend the reach of another (anti-discrimination).

… Which brings me to the recent event in England that raises serious questions for Americans, and I think puts Rand’s interview in an altogether more positive light.

In the U.K., an elderly Christian couple, Mr and Mrs Bull, who used to run a guesthouse, refused to offer rooms to unmarried couples – whether gay or straight. Some time ago, a gay couple, who fell afoul of their “no unwed couples” policy, sued them for discrimination. Britain’s Supreme Court agreed with the offended party and fined the hoteliers thousands of pounds, which, along with the legal fees, and the elimination of their right to rent their rooms to whomever they wish, caused them to sell their business.

As a non-religionist, I completely disagree with the guesthouse-owners view of sexuality and, dare I say, love. But I am very disturbed by the use of law to punish them for following their conscience with their own property in a way that neither did, nor intended to do, active harm to anyone.

This incident raises a complicated moral and societal question about which well-meaning and intelligent people can disagree. To find answers to such questions, I often ask simply, “What would Love do?”. And I have to say that if I were denied entry to this business (as I would be if I were with a partner as I am not married), I would probably pity this couple for their views, and I might even tell them so, but Love would require me to respect where they are on their spiritual journey, and know that they were not seeking to hurt me. I wouldn’t feel that I had a right to use the force of the state against them, nor would I want to.

As I read this sad tale, Rand’s interview with Rachel Maddow came immediately to mind. For what happened to Mr and Mrs Bull is the very consequence of the concession of the principle of private property that Rand was so concerned about.

Just as Mr and Mrs. Bull had a right to discriminate (but a moral obligation not to do so), any group of aggrieved customers – such as gay people or unmarried persons who are sexually active – have all the right in the world to publicize this couple’s views in a bid to persuade others not to frequent their establishment (easier today than it has ever been). In this way, no one has to act out of force or violate the one right that exists almost exclusively to facilitate the exercise of all other fundamental (natural) rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – which is the right to earn and deploy property to your benefit as long as doing so harms no one else.

In the case of Mr and Mrs Bull, the force of a British law that is equivalent to the one tenth of the Civil Rights Act about which Rand Paul is rightfully concerned, was used to deprive someone of something as punishment for an act that was not intended to harm, was in line with sincerely held religious belief, and materially deprived no one of anything.

Logically, Mr and Mrs Bull can only have committed a crime if the couple they turned away had an actual right to be served by them. Yet, the Bulls are not compelled to offer their service to anyone. So how can it be that party A’s (the Bulls) making a free choice to transact with party B (a married couple) creates a new right for party C (unmarried couple)? What kind of right would that be? It is not a simple question.

To get to its answer, Rachel had pressed Rand on this altogether more concrete question.

“Do you believe that private business people should be able to decide whether they want to serve black people, gays or any other minority group?”

The most important thing about this question is that it is utterly different from the following one.

“Do you believe that private business people should serve black people, gays or any other minority group?”

Those two questions are very different indeed; they rest on very different moral and even metaphysical principles and both consistently can, and perhaps, should, be answered with a “yes”.

It is far from obvious, for example, that we should use law to punish a person who follows his conscience and does not harm another individual (such as Mr. Bull), but not a person who goes against his conscience and betrays another, such as by telling a lie to cover adultery. Typically, we make the leap from “an action is wrong” to “an action should be punishable by law” only in the very rare cases that an individual is in fact harmed or put at great risk of harm (murder, robbery, intention to do either, reckless driving, etc.).

In contrast, anti-discrimination laws in the private sphere almost uniquely work by the threat of harm (or in Mr and Mrs Bull’s case, doing actual harm) against individuals who have neither done, nor intended to do, active harm against anyone else. This is extremely serious because it is exactly by prohibiting the state from harming those who have not done harm to others that discrimination against any group in the public sphere is prevented. In other words, anti-discriminatory laws in the private sphere are always in danger of undermining the very principle they purport to defend. Typically, that doesn’t matter practically in the short-run, but it can do huge harm in the long-term.

What, after all, was the evil of slavery, from which modern discrimination in large part follows so darkly? It was not the evil of slavers’ refusing to let their slaves buy services, analogous to the refusal of Mr and Mrs Bull to offer a room for their unmarried but sexually active clients. Rather, it was the legally sanctioned, complete abuse of the property rights of the slaves by the slavers – the refusal to let them earn property in exchange for their labor, the refusal to let them keep property with which they could have bought themselves out of their slavery, the refusal to allow them to decide what to do with anything they did in any loose sense own, and even, (by the definition of property favored by many who understand its importance to providing all individuals the means of defending their liberty against any impingement,) the denial of the slaves’ exclusive property in their own beings and bodies.

This is extremely important. Property rights matter because property is the only secure means by which people can exercise their liberty over time and defend it when it is under attack.

Understanding why the two questions above can both be answered affirmatively is critical not only to understanding Freedom, but also to our ability as a nation to preserve it. We might even go a step further and say that it is the difference between those two questions that defines Freedom.

That Rand Paul cares about all of that is a credit to him. The story of Mr and Mrs Bull does not in itself prove that either Rand or Rachel is right on that one tenth of the Civil Rights Act that deals with private institutions, but it does (as sure as slavery is evil) prove that intelligent people can disagree about it. And it proves beyond doubt that impugning the intent of a politician who has sufficient integrity and, frankly, courage, to grapple so publicly with the fundamental principles of liberty is not only unfair to him, but also a disservice to us all.

Author: ROBIN KOERNER

Robin is the creator and publisher of WatchingAmerica.com, a website that translates foreign news about the U.S. from around the world.

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79 Comments

  1. Thank you for your patience, courtesy and civility, Robin.

    I will just end my comments with an observation that is purely subjective, probably would not have any standing in a court of law or in any legal discussion, will be totally destroyed by most readers who look at these issues in a dispassionate, academic, intellectual, much “broader-context” way. But it comes from the heart and from the gut, if that counts in any way.

    The inclusion in the discussion — for effect or not, as a fictitious example or not — and comparing the plight of gays and lesbians in our country, in the UK and in the world to “red-heads being bullied,” or “discriminating against blondes” or any other such silly “classes,” however well-intended, diminishes the gravity of the issue and of the discussion.

    We are not talking about redheads being bullied, or blondes being discriminated.

    We are talking about real and serious cases of men’s and women’s rights being violated and not solely as individuals but as an entire class.

    And, yes, having personally seen the tragic effects of discrimination, of denying equal rights and equal service to gays and lesbians and being very much aware of the injustices and crimes that have been committed against these people for being gay, we do need to protect them more in law than blondes or redheads or any other such silly example.

    And I do wish you a Merry Christmas, Robin

  2. Thank you Robin. I think you chose an excellent topic for us to think deeply about. Unfortunately, many here chose to generate more heat than light because it dealt with a sensitive topic. The form of discrimination became the issue, when in fact the issue is the right to discriminate.

  3. Thanks Dorian. Merry Christmas too!

    Of course, the blondes is a silly example in that the (very positive and good) motivation for anti-discrimination laws does not exist in that case… but the reason for bringing it up is to focus on the principle. My fear is that we are violating a universal principle to pick these groups against which discrimination occurs. There *are* other groups and people who are discriminated against and who are not protected in law. So what are the principled criteria for inclusion under the umbrella of “protected group” (remember we are talking only the private sphere here), bearing in mind that those principles run up against freedom of conscience, property rights, and other things on which good society is based. Only when we identify those principles (on which we choose groups for protection) can we have a principled evaluation of the compromising of the principles we are violating/compromising when we single out such groups.

    Also, an important point: a person’s rights may be violated by someone who identifies them as a member of particular class – but it is still necessarily their rights *as individual people* that are being violated. (Only individuals can be moral agents.) But the problem here (again) is that it is not clear that I am violating your rights if I say I do not wish you to sleep in a bedroom that I own. No one is condoning discrimination or ignorance – but that is not the question. The difficulty is in the principled justification for the protection in Law. Just because the consequences of non-protection in the private sphere may be bad (case to be made): that does not mean that the (long-term) consequence of protection in the private sphere aren’t worse.

  4. I continue to disagree in principle and in spirit, but thanks again for considering my views without ridicule or high-mindedness, Robin.

  5. I always appreciate our interactions, Dorian.

    Since you say that you disagree “in principle” (which is the point!), I would be genuinely interested in a principled basis for selecting the groups for legal protection in the private sphere… and at least some pointers as to why those principles can be deemed to be “more fundamental” than the others at issue. It is, for sure, a complex issue… and I’d be interested in a principled way into your side of the argument, so to speak.

  6. I will certainly “give it a go,” Robin. It may be a while and it certainly will not be as scholar or authoritative as yours or as some of the comments here.

  7. Thanks Dorian.

    You are way too modest (or flattering, or both). No expectation on my part. If you have the time, that’s great. No hurry anyways… Hope all is very well with you, as always!

  8. Robin, one more thing, but please do not reply (This is getting to be too much like a MAS):

    I have noticed that you have created a fantastic fan base at the Huffington Post.

    Congratulations. I am not surprised. Although I don’t agree with everything you write, you write everything excellently.

  9. As far as Rand’s emphasis on preserving an individual’s freedom to defend his or her property rights and to run businesses in the way that an individual wants, this is truly only a portion of the individual rights that many governments exists (partly)to protect. But there is really much more at play. consider this statement Robin makes:

    “In contrast, anti-discrimination laws in the private sphere almost uniquely work by the threat of harm (or in Mr and Mrs Bull’s case, doing actual harm) against individuals who have neither done, nor intended to do, active harm against anyone else. This is extremely serious because it is exactly by prohibiting the state from harming those who have not done harm to others that discrimination against any group in the public sphere is prevented. In other words, anti-discriminatory laws in the private sphere are always in danger of undermining the very principle they purport to defend. Typically, that doesn’t matter practically in the short-run, but it can do huge harm in the long-term.”

    To begin with, Mr. and Mrs. Bull may not have physically harmed anyone when prohibiting gay couples to room at their guesthouse, but doesn’t discrimination include much more than physical harm? Those of us who are straight are generally biased about the quality of the love that exists between certain gay couples and when we deny them equal access to services because of that ignorance, isn’t there a great deal of emotional exile and psychological damage involved?

    One needn’t develop a politically clinical argument about slavery being evil because it doesn’t allow slaves to earn an income and have property rights, etc. etc. It is also very valid to just consider the existence of such social systems as an affront to human dignity, and therefore, inherently evil in themselves. Similarly, any law which attempts to protect an individual’s right to promote a mentality which implies that, some other people in love are only secondary citizens and not deserving of equal moral and social considerations, this directly harms the dignity of such people.

    I have a friend who was a former neighbor during childhood, and who later came to grips with his sexual orientation—realizing that his was not a sick condition, and did not make him some kind of perverted monster—despite the fact that homosexuality was (at the time) still considered an illness by many Psychiatrists. Many of those who share his sexual orientation have been driven to suicide after being socially ostracised and bullied for something as normal to them as being left handed or right handed, or brown or blue eyed, etc.is to others.

    Today science and psychology has refuted most of the ignorance concerning LGBT people, but we still must preserve the laws which come to their aid. My friend has written a book about his attractions to other males, and I have come to understand that the love he experiences is very similar to that which I or any Straight person feels, in fact, in essence exactly the same! So, the religious view that Mr. and Mrs. Bull employ when discriminating, is really based on falsehoods that stem from thousands of years of tradition and fear. Besides some old testament condemnations of the things done in Sodom and Gomorrah, and other old testament verses, Jesus in contrast
    said very little in the way of condemning gay people for the way they naturally are. Sure, we know where the word sodomy came from, but this sexual act is also done by many straight couples, and, there are many ways to give and receive love physically as well as emotionally—should straight people who also do such frowned upon things be denied hotel rooms? I have come to realize that if a gay couple is committed enough to stay with each other other over several decades of life, their experience with love is really not much different than mine or anyone elses.

    A pertinent example that illustrates the need for the government to step in when some cases of religious and/or social liberty are involved, is that Christian Scientists really believe that physical health depends largely on lifestyle and the spiritual fitness of any individual, but still, they are not allowed to deny anyone—even their own children, access to vital medication or medical treatment because of their beliefs. The government calls that murder, and civil law clearly trumps religious freedom in this case, when charges are brought against the child’s parents.

    Back to Mr.and Mrs. Bull, they may be Christians who disapprove of gay lifestyles, but no one is morally telling them that they must change their own religious views. However, when they deny ordinary social liberty to others and actually break the law when doing so, then civil laws and penalties must be used to prevent such real and physically manifested prejudice.

    I think in a democracy all of us have the right to personal freedoms and, that the will of the majority is often the right way to go. But clearly depending on the good will and intelligence of the majority is not always going to work, or secure justice. If the civil rights movement had never challenged the “right” of Lester Maddox to hand out axe handles to keep out those uppity (N worders) It wouldn’t matter whether black customers were perfectly civil or were grossly drunk and insulting—maddox would have continued to refuse them. And, If his “rights” to do everything his way, in regards to doing business, would never have been challenged and, we may still might have an overtly Jim Crow society in many states. And, if public referendums were used to resolve civil rights issues, voters would have summarily turned down any challenge to the rights of business owners to do anything they damn well please. Even the KKK might have some legal basis for harassing and intimidating black citizens!

    Now if Mr. and Mrs Bull were kidnapped and forced to perform gay sexual acts, that would be a very different story. But as it stands, they have the ability to force others NOT to have simple access to certain private venues, while they personally are actually receiving no pressure to change their own spiritual beliefs.

    I know this can easily become a more and more complicated issue, but suffice it to say, that in our Democracy, individuals are not always enlightened nor are large groups of us always correct when it comes to socially moral ethics. We have the court systems and legislative debates largely to determine such morally uncertain issues. And obviously, one man’s political beliefs can be another man’s religious self-righteousness. Consequentially,I don’t think individual liberty is always tantamount to the holy grail of Democracy, since, by definition we are also just small parts of a much larger social whole. And often individual rights are used to arbitrarily decide issues in primarily self-benefiting ways. No man is an island, and neither are the laws that govern civilized men.

  10. Petew just made my future “essay” on this issue that much easier and shorter :)

  11. Thanks Dorian.

    Have a great holidays!

  12. I think it’s a symptom of the fact that so much of our political discourse involves people saying absurd things, so we’ve come to expect that someone we disagree with must be saying absurd things.

    This.

  13. Private businesses can deny service to anyone.

    “This is extremely important. Property rights matter because property is the only secure means by which people can exercise their liberty over time and defend it when it is under attack.”

    And just as important is the right for a citizen to bring action against discrimination.

    Yet one of the few ways a society end discrimination is to honor the right of individuals to bring legal action when they feel they have been discriminated against. To minimize that is to lose one of the few checks to end discrimination…

    Turn the other cheek might be admirable at a personal level, but maybe not at the level that will bring a greater good for others…

  14. Back to Mr.and Mrs. Bull, they may be Christians who disapprove of gay lifestyles, but no one is morally telling them that they must change their own religious views. However, when they deny ordinary social liberty to others and actually break the law when doing so, then civil laws and penalties must be used to prevent such real and physically manifested prejudice.

    @ petew – Excellent comment start to finish.

    Thanks for getting to the actual crux of this simple problem that others seem to be trying so hard to make complicated… Distraction does not make wrong-headed positions right.

  15. “If enough businesses exclude the same class of people, it would result in a lack of access to services which would be a problem warranting legal protections.”

    How many is “enough”? In a town of 60,000 like where my folks live, there are 3 motels, only one if which allows dogs, another has a pool, and another is very clean. It’s a very conservative town, and if it were legal to discriminate against certain people, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the three were to do so. In other words: there really is only one unique option for certain needs. We had 4 pharmacies, one private hospital, and 2 places to get your car done. One of any given type of business being closed to a particular type of customer due to the owner’s bigotry or moralizing will absolutely represent a much diminished access to that service. Maybe less so in large cities, but in smaller cities and particularly in rural areas, we know for certain that this will happen. No doubt, no “if”. That’s why the law is there.

  16. I’m sorry you feel it was cheap and ad hominem, Robin. I think it’s relevant that most people who think that businesses should be allowed to discriminate against their customers tend to be white men. Being a white man isn’t what makes you incorrect (in my opinion), but your views don’t exist in a vacuum, and neither do those who disagree; you probably wouldn’t have the same opinion if you were a black woman, for example. Statistically.

  17. from ad:

    The argument that people who have certain moral views and consider themselves to have a moral obligation to act on them should avoid certain lines of work bothers me. In some of my comments on this thread I tried to make the argument that tolerance goes both ways. From that perspective, I don’t see that argument as much different than saying that gay couples should just be forbidden from using B&Bs altogether.

    I understand that it bothers you, and I am sympathetic. Most people have particular moral values or just proclivities that keep them from certain lines of work. Vegetarians shouldn’t get jobs as deli workers if they’re not willing to handle and sell meat to the meat-eating public. I can’t stand blood or body parts, so medicine is probably not a good line of work for me. Many of us would have difficulty being, for example, public defenders — many would have moral qualms about defending someone we know is guilty, even if we believe whole-heartedly that everyone deserves a fair trail and a vigorous defense. Those who dislike people in general probably shouldn’t be in customer service. And, yes, if you are deeply disturbed by the idea of unmarried people doing dirty, un-Christianlike sexy-time fun on your property, renting out rooms with double-occupancy beds might not be the best career move. There are lots and lots of jobs and businesses the Bulls might have undertaken in which there was not a choice between their own conscience and letting their moral policing interfere with their ability to follow the law.

  18. “I don’t see that argument as much different than saying that gay couples should just be forbidden from using B&Bs altogether.”

    Oh, I forgot to add that I really don’t understand this sentence. I don’t see that argument as sharing anything with saying that gay couples should just be forbidden from using B&Bs altogether.

  19. Although this thread seems to have “petered out” and your comments are not directed at me, Roro, I just wanted to add — and conclude — for whatever it’s worth that I agree with your views and arguments on the issue.

  20. Thanks Dorian!

  21. Who’s petered out? Not me.:) (Actually, I think the time limit may be approaching where comments are cut off. I hope it is right after I make a great point that then can’t be rebutted! (kidding)

    roro: “How many is “enough”?” It’s a good question that needs to be answered by the legislative body by defining protected classes. If the UK has answered that question, I’m fine with it. My point, which I may have overstated earlier, was just that I don’t think all discrimination based on personal preference should be illegal. Just discrimination against protected classes, because by definition they are in danger of limited access to services due to discrimination, which is the whole point of protected classes.

    In any case, as I mentioned it’s a hypothetical because the business wasn’t directly discriminating against gay couples, but against unmarried couples. The whole point of the legal distinction of marriage is to discriminate (by providing them certain benefits not available to the unmarried). To punish a business for discriminating on the same basis as the government is contradictory.

    re: Deli meat. Yes, I can see your point that if the primary nature of your work contradicts your moral values, then it doesn’t make sense for you to work in that field. However, I think it’s more comparable to saying that a vegetarian (who won’t touch meat) should not work in a grocery store because they will probably be asked at some point to handle meat. Actually, a better analogy might be a vegetarian grocery store *owner* who is forced to supply meat, against their values, to accommodate customers who rely on meat as part of their diet and therefore need access to it.

    Lastly, saying that the B&B owners shouldn’t be in that business restricts their choices and access to their means of making a living. In that sense, it’s not that different from saying that the gay couple should not be seeking accommodations at a B&B. Maybe they have other good options, but maybe (like the gay couple in the rural town) they don’t.

  22. “Actually, a better analogy might be a vegetarian grocery store *owner* who is forced to supply meat, against their values, to accommodate customers who rely on meat as part of their diet and therefore need access to it”

    In this case, the Bulls are already carrying and selling “meat” in their “grocery store”, they just won’t sell it to these guys, because they’ve decided pre-emptively that this couple is too un-meat-worthy to buy their meat. They’re not being forced to carry meat; they have the meat, they sell the meat happily, and have decided that other people get to eat meat, but not these guys, because Jesus. If the law were requiring the Bulls to give blow jobs to these fellows, then yes, your analogy would be apt.

    “it’s not that different from saying that the gay couple should not be seeking accommodations at a B&B”

    But don’t you see the difference here? We can choose who we discriminate against. We can’t choose who we are. The Bulls have a choice to have a B&B or not, and they have a choice to discriminate or not. The law proscribes rules that businesses must follow, and one of those laws is that you can’t decide to rent rooms to the public if you’re going to discriminate against protected classes.

    “To punish a business for discriminating on the same basis as the government is contradictory.”

    That the government should be more consistent and give gay people the right to marry doesn’t mean the law should be relaxed to allow everyone to discriminate against gay people. There are a lot of protections I think married couples should have — everyone needs a next of kin, power of attorney, and should be able to see their family members in the hospital, etc — but there are also a lot of privileges of marriage that I disagree with (we should all have health care, then it wouldn’t matter whether a couple was married or not, etc). In fact, in many cases, marital status is considered an axis of oppression as far as special privileges are concerned. For example, an employer can’t discriminate in hiring practices on the basis of marital status, the government and healthcare providers can’t withold services, etc. I am unsure if that’s the case in England as well; it’s possible they’ve been breaking the law all along by barring unmarried couples.

    I also want to point out that it’s quite likely that the Bulls have served many unmarried couples without knowing it. Who goes up to the clerk at an inn and says “we’re not married but we’re going to make whoopie in this hotel tonight anyway!”? So, given that it’s not that easy to tell a married couple from an unmarried couple, how did the Bulls know that this couple wasn’t married in the first place? If the answer is “because they’re both men”, then that’s pretty clear discrimination based on sexual orientation.

  23. By the way, the law also requires a lot of other things of the Bulls. They have to have running water and a toilet their guests can access. It has to be a safe environment, free of hazardous material, etc etc. They have to pay taxes on their earnings, they have to pay employees a certain amount. There are other requirments as well. If their morals were to proclude them from providing any of these things, they would likewise be in breech of the law. You can decide what business you go into, but you can’t decide which regulations in that business you’re allowed to chuck.

  24. What KP said. And I can’t wait for my Make Santa Claus Any Color You Want Kit.

  25. roro, your argument makes sense as it applies to protected classes. Clearly we just disagree with to what extent it applies to a B&B that discriminates on marital status.

  26. Cool, ad. I think it’s an interesting thought experiment, the idea of the legality of discriminating against certain not-specifically-protected groups that might be loopholes to legally discriminating against protected classes. This is a good example — barring unmarried couples, which automatically excludes all gay couples. Another would be the Jim Crow laws which required the passing of a literacy test to vote — black people weren’t allowed to learn to read during the slavery years, so once those years were over, a requirement for literacy meant that nearly no black people would be allowed to vote, which was of course the purpose of the laws. Similar with sheknows’ example of only serving blond people; great rule if your goal is to make sure only white people are allowed. I think in all cases, though, most judges would rule all three to be discriminatory against protected classes.

  27. Marital status, unlike hair color and literacy, is a legal status created specifically to legally and directly discriminate.

  28. I don’t think that’s really true — it’s meant to legally designate that two previously-unrelated people are now to be considered a family unit for legal purposes.

  29. “For legal purposes” implies that the purpose of this designation is for the law to treat them differently than unmarried couples.

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