Politico has a long article this morning on “President Obama’s sales pitch to gay voters,” part of which is his claim to “ending sexual-identity discrimination in federal hiring.”
Assuming Obama has in fact done this, it would be quite interesting to learn what it is he thinks he’s done. Does he think, for example, that imposing burdens or awarding benefits to job applicants based on their sexual identity , or “taking account” or “being conscious” of applicants’ sexual identity in any way — is discrimination? If so, that must mean that discrimination means one thing regarding gays and something different regarding blacks, since he quite clearly does not think preferential treatment of racial and ethnic minorities is discrimination. (I wonder by which of his standards he would have federal employers consider a black gay applicant.)
I’ve considered this question a number of times. In Is Equal Treatment For Gays Homophobic?, for example, I asked if colorblindness is racist, why isn’t sexual-identiy blindness homophobic? In another example, Will ENDA End Sexual Orientation Discrimination?, I referred to a provision of the then-pending Employment Non-Discrimination Act that purported to bar preferential treatment based on sexual orientation and asked, “assuming this provision really does prohibit preferential treatment, wouldn’t that mean that … sexual orientation lacks the ‘protection’ awarded to race and ethnicity (assuming, of course, that allowing preferential treatment can be viewed as protection)?” I raised similar points quite a few other times, such as here, here, here, and here.
It would be quite interesting to know what the president thinks prohibiting discrimination actually prohibits (assuming he thinks about it at all). It would be almost as interesting to learn what, if anything, the Republican candidates think about this issue.