It’s intermittently puzzled me why many on the right (certainly not all) object to legal equality for gay people. I mean, assuming that they have a clear ideological reason rather than just a prejudice shrouded in rhetoric. Because one thing that seems to epitomise the right is their yearning that the state not take freedoms away from private individuals – freedom to drive a 4x4, freedom to keep one’s own money, freedom to hunt foxes, freedom to offer employees a pittance to work in dangerous conditions for long hours…
But there may be some semblance of a reason. If so, it’s a bad reason.
A quick detour: the lump-of-labour fallacy is the idea that there’s only a certain quantity of employment available, and so technological automation or economic immigration will produce unemployment. But the truth is that, through positive effects such as higher productivity and lower inflation, such changes can benefit the economy and lead to higher employment.
What about gay rights, then? Well, if you listen to those (more prominent in the ‘land of the free’ than the UK) who campaign against gay marriage, you’ll hear the charge that such a thing would threaten the institution of marriage, as enjoyed by ordinary straight-talking straight folk. And, on this side of the pond, there are similar complaints about gay adoption rights damaging ‘the family’ or, this week, that making it easier for lesbian couples to use IVF would undermine fatherhood.
No. Letting a gay couple marry does not reduce the ability of any straight couple to get or stay married. Letting a gay couple raise children does not reduce the quality of parent-child relationships in any other family. There is no ‘lump of freedom’ that malicious lefties wish to redistribute from straight to gay. Following the little logic of the argument through, the fallacy is embarrassingly obvious. Perhaps it’s just prejudice after all.
The only ‘freedom’ lost by extending gay rights is the freedom of homophobes to live in a country with laws different from those passed by elected representatives – in other words, the selective, privileged freedom to control others. But true liberalism has to be egalitarian.
So, I’m with JFK – freedom is not diminished for some by granting it to others. Quite the reverse:
Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.