Monday, July 11, 2011

Haslam to Woods: 'How Are You Defining Discrimination?'

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 7:48 AM

Jeff Woods' sit-down with Gov. Bill Haslam in the CP is a must-read. If I'm reading correctly, Haslam's position is this: He thinks businesses should adopt nondiscrimination policies that include gay people, but he's going to do jack nothing at the state level that would encourage that in any way. And by the way, gays shouldn't marry, based on — what? He doesn't say, but he's got reasons.

Read the entire interview for the full context, but here are some high points:

What about gay rights? You have said you think businesses should adopt nondiscrimination policies that include gay people.

I think this. I’ve said a hundred times, I think the people who hire the best team are going to win. If you take any part of the population and say I’m not going to hire those people willfully, I don’t think that’s a really smart business plan. I think businesses should have diverse hiring practices. That’s really different, though, than having city governments tell businesses what their HR practices should be. Businesses are going to go out and hire the best people they can. ...

OK, you’re against gay marriage. Would you be against the legislature passing an anti-discrimination law that protects gay people?

What you’re asking is, why wouldn’t I add gays as a protected class? I just feel like there’s enough regulation coming down.

So you would be against adding gay people to that state law?

Probably would. That issue hasn’t come to me. But sitting here today, I probably would be. ...

Let me ask you generally about social conservative issues. A trend is developing. You are saying one thing and doing another. You do what the social conservatives want you to do, but you say things that will please everyone else.

Like what?

On this gay issue, you said, ‘I’m for businesses adopting nondiscrimination polices.’ But you signed the bill.

I don’t think that’s saying one thing and doing another. If I’m running a business, I’m going to go out and hire the best people I can, period. On the other hand, I don’t know that I necessarily want the local city council telling me my HR practices. I don’t think that’s saying one thing and doing another at all.

Bless Woods for this priceless exchange:

When you say you favor businesses adopting nondiscrimination policies, that’s because you think it’s smart business? To you, it’s not a matter of conscience that people shouldn’t discriminate against gay people just because they happen to be gay?

Again, it depends. How are you defining discrimination? You could say I’m discriminating already because I’m saying I’m not for gay marriage. Is that discriminating?

Yes.

Is it? OK, then I’m drawing a line there. But I’m not going to draw a line when it comes to hiring practices that I’m involved in.

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