This weekend in Duluth, the 31st annual Pride Fest celebration takes place at Bayfront Park. It has been a long road toward acceptance and understanding for the Duluth-Superior GLBTAQI community. There was a time not so long ago when there wasn’t a lot of tolerance or compassion shown to our “queer” citizens. We must always remember that our community is made up of many different styles and colors of people, and each is as treasured and welcome as any other.

There is no place for hate in our society, and any manifestations thereof should be shunned, and we must teach our children not to allow the bullying mentality to rule their behavior. The problem with human beings is we inherently are  disposed to hate, it is an emotion which provides them with a shield of comfort to buffer us from the weakness we experience from our insecurities, which are largely created by the need to fit in to society. This is part of human nature. The best way to eliminate hate, is to engender understanding of that which is at the root of our insecurities.

A disturbing trend has begun to surface in some of the larger cities in America, this being the use of draconian measures and laws which go against our historic freedom of expression rights in order to “combat hate.” 
The fact is, you have the right to hate. It is an emotion, and you have the right to experience an emotion. You have the right to speak hatefully, as long as it is only speech. The government cannot punish you for your thoughts, words or emotions. If your words are spying for a foreign government, or inciting violence or a riot, or issuing a false alarm, resulting in harm to others, these are exceptions, and you cannot expect to be protected by the Constitution in these cases.

The California State Senate is considering a bill that would punish health care workers with up to a year in jail if they “willfully and repeatedly” decline to address a transgender person with their “preferred name or pronouns.”
The bill, SB 219, proposed by San Francisco’s State Sen. Scott Wiener,  provides for a maximum fine of $1,000, a year in prison, or both, if a worker is convicted.
The New York City Human Rights Law requires employers, landlords, and all businesses and professionals to use an employee’s, tenant’s, customer’s, or client’s preferred name, pronoun and title regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth, anatomy, gender, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on the individual’s identification. Failure to comply with this law can lead to, “...civil penalties up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct.”

Canada already has well established controls on the speech of it’s citizens, but then again, I don’t look to Canada as a land of liberty, it is more of a socialist state that subsidizes it’s industries and only functions at all because they heavily exploit their abundant natural resources at the expense of their indigenous population and natural beauty. In June of this year, Canada’s Senate passed Bill C-16, which puts “gender identity” and “gender expression” into both the country’s Human Rights Code, as well as the hate crime category of its Criminal Code, so Canadians who fail to use the proper pronoun can face charges of “Hate Crime” and be subject to severe punishment.

In the United States, these laws are not going to stand up to scrutiny by the high court, so they are largely just for show. It is well established that the government cannot compel speech, that is, tell you WHAT to say. In Hurley v. Irish-American Gay Group of Boston, (1995), The Supreme Court held  that a state’s LGBT bias law could not be used to force a parade to admit a gay-rights contingent, since that was compelled speech. The Supreme Court has said mild restrictions on First Amendment rights can sometimes be justified by antidiscrimination laws that promote compelling government interests, but cannot command a preference.

As usual, the best way to foster understanding and harmony is through human interaction. I don’t want to call somebody the wrong pronoun, if they let me know what they prefer to be called, I will honor their wishes, gladly. 

Happy Pride, everyone!