^ defending the Constitution’s guarantee of civil rights for everyone : Texas small business significantly helped to defeat a proposed transgender discrimination bill

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What is so controversial about saying the words of today’s headline ? “Civil rights for all” seems to me the most basic social commitment that our nation has made, the bedrock of our Constitution. We fought a civil war, in which some 600,000 of our forbears died, to ensure that civil rights for all would never be questioned :

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

So speaks Section 1 of the great 14th Amendment, in which we the people committed every state in the Union to abide by the commitments made in the 1790s by the Federal government.

Therefrom derives all the sweeping enactments that protect all manner of voting rights, forbid discrimination by any entity that does business with the public, ensure public respect for all people.

That should be an end to the matter. To question the principle is to question the Constitution itself, to disapprove of the nation that it has created. Those who do not accept that all should have civil rights should admit that they do not support the Comnstitution, do not accept the social compact that we are all charged with accepting.

There are many countries where those who do not approve of our Constitution can practice their exclusions; .the United Stares is not one of them. As for those who take the oath of office, their non-acceptance of the pact that they swear to uphold and defend betray their sacred word. They are free to enjoy the favoritisms adduced by nations that do not accept the equality of all, but they should never be allowed to continue in an office whose oath they lie to.

So much for them. I wish now to speak of the matter at hand : civil rights for all. There can be no grounds whatsoever for abating a person’s basic civil rights other than conviction of a crime the penalty for which is imprisonment. In Massachusetts, by our state Constitution, all residents and all visitors are guaranteed basic civil rights: please note that immigrants without papers are not excluded. I fail to see how our Commonwealth’s daily life has suffered in the slightest thereby. If anything, our sweeping guarantee promotes the economic life of Massachusetts.

This is the surprising message, i think, in “civil rights for all.” It’s good for business. have no doubt at all, that “business progressivism” is the bedrock of social justice and government reform. We’ve seen “business progressivism” at work in Indiana in 2015 and recently in North Carolina and Texas, where legislators attempted to restrict the civil rights of LGBT people on the basis of ‘sincerely held religious belief.” Certainly many many activists other than those in business helped turn back these attempts, but business was prominent in the lead . After all, business means the economy, and the economy means all of us. Whoever we may be.

N o business wants to operate in a jurisdiction where its employees do not feel safe or respected, and where its customer base can be restricted. Large businesses care about their nationwide reputation, and if they accept the discriminations of one jurisdiction, they send an immoral message to potential customers in other jurisdictions. No business wants to do that.

I rest my case.

Every immigrant who is deported by the administration in Washington is one less customer for our businesses, and in many cases, one less entrepreneur. The persecution of paperless immigrants is bad for business.

Business progressivism funds and promotes the cause of civil rights for all, wherever that cause needs promotion. Our Constitution was created by a merchant class, and it has always expanded its commitments when business insists upon it. Businesses owe the society at large a large moral duty — and business as we know it was first enabled by religiously motivated urban enterprisers as focused on morals as on profit. The two go together, and our Constitution remains the finest achievement of economic moralists.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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