If there is one thing for which professors are generally envied, it is summers off.
I'm working on the Moonlight Sonata this summer, all three movements. I'm also spending a lot of time hiking and boating in beautiful Harriman State Park. That's my little inflatable bathtub in the bottom left of the picture of Lake Sebago. I don't want a kayak; too much exercise and balance involved in those things. Sitting like a lump, now that's what I like.
But "off" is a relative term for me, and for many of the professors I know.
First of all, there are summer classes, if you want them. Well, my decade old car is about to explode, so I'm teaching two and hoping for a down payment out of the deal - Comparative Legal Systems and Psychology and the Law. Both online. Both interesting subjects. (Big controversy about online courses brewing - are they too easy or too cheatable?)
And then there's the two days of inservice meetings this week. And the meeting of department chairs coming up soon, for which I have a report due. Oh, and the flex time report, which is too boring to explain. And I need to work on a new edition to my book, which is three years old at this point.
And there's the article I have to get to the publisher by August 1. Now that's what I'm living for. It's on the interaction between the First Amendment and LGBT non-discrimination laws. Remember all that screaming by the hysterical right wing about their loss of religious freedom because of having to hire a homosexual? Well, they could have a point. If my religion requires me to stick my tongue out at you and stay at least 50 yards away, then requiring me not to do that would certainly infringe my crazy religion in some way. There are limits on religious freedom, just like there are limits on the right to shout fire in a crowded theater. But what those limits are -- that's not exactly clear, and requires a lot of thinking whilst on the lake.
You'd think that someone would have written about this issue already, and cleared up all the ambiguities, what with professors having to publish lots of books and articles in order to get tenure. But there aren't that many of us that specialize in LGBT workplace issues, and this issue hasn't been discussed much. There are a few articles touching on it, but I don't think they do it justice. (No offense to those of you that wrote those articles - I will give you a mention and use your thoughts as a springboard. Not saying mine will be more right than yours.)
The place to start with this issue are the two Supreme Court rulings on LGBT non-discrimination law, the NYC St. Patty's Day parade case and the Boy Scouts case.
In the first case, the Supreme Court ruled that the St. Patty's Day parade organization didn't have to allow an LGBT contingent to march under their own banner despite a local sexual orientation non-discrimination law. They said the First Amendment not only requires freedom of speech and religion, but also contains an implied "right of association." In other words, if I want to say that I don't like certain groups of people, I have that right. Keeping certain groups out of my club is a statement. An' the guvmint can't interfere with my statement under the First Amendment. if the government can tell me who I have to associate with -- like admitting certain members to my private club -- then they have impaired my right to make a statement. It's a bit of a stretch, but it's the law as the Court sees it.
Hey, the Supreme Court thinks porn is a free speech issue, and I've never read a speech in a porn magazine.
The other case is the Boy Scouts case. The Boy Scouts is a non-profit group, and they don't want avowed homosexuals as volunteer scoutmasters. The Supreme Court found that the Boy Scouts has a core message about sexuality, and that the state sexual orientation non-discrimination law would infringe their right of association under the First Amendment.
But both of those cases involved voluntary associations, rather than workplaces. Workplaces are a whole different animal. After all, the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and similar laws now on the books not only prohibit discrimination based on race, national origin, religion, disability and age, but also affirmatively require employers to keep track of how many of each they hire, and can require them to hire more of a certain kind. (FYI, ENDA wouldn't go as far, but let's let ENDA rest in peace for a while.)
In fact, the Civil Rights Act contains a specific exception for private clubs -- they can discriminate as much as they want if they meet certain conditions.
So private clubs and voluntary associations are apparently different from workplaces. How different are they? Would the Supreme Court have ruled differently in the St. Patty's Day parade case or the Boy Scout case if those cases involved workplaces?
Well, for that, you have to read the tea leaves. Each decision is about 50 pages long. There are a lot of sentences in those opinions. Some seem to lean one way on the workplace question, and some seem to lean another. And there have been lots of other court opinions, and scholarly articles in the intervening years. We're also waiting on that Christian Legal Society v. Martinez case to come down from the Supreme Court.
It's going to take a lot of thinking on the lake to figure this one out.