There's been an important discussion going on at Brian Leiter's blog (here and here). There's a petition, signed by well over 1000 members of the American Philosophical Association, encouraging the APA to either drop its policy that schools advertising in the JFP may not discriminate based on sexual orientation, or enforce the policy. There's also a counter-petition, signed by, perhaps, a few dozen APA members, which urges the APA to stick with the status quo.
That brings me to the substantive part of this post.
It's common to hear people invoke the "act/orientation" distinction when justifying policies such as the one adopted by Wheaton College (Illinois). (Wheaton's policy instigated the present discussion.) They say that they're not discriminating against people based on sexual orientation. They prohibit, for example, homosexual activity, but this, it is said, does not yet discriminate against homosexual orientation. Why? Because hiring homosexuals is consistent with all their stated requirements and objectives, they say. Indeed, it would be perfectly consistent for homosexuals to compose their entire faculty!
I think they're wrong. Here's my argument:
A policy that proscribes homosexual orientation discriminates against homosexual orientation. (Premise)
Wheaton's policy proscribes homosexual orientation. (Premise)
Therefore Wheaton's policy discriminates against homosexual orientation. (From 1 and 2)
The argument is valid. 1 is obviously true. 2 is very plausible once the relevant facts are presented.
First, Wheaton's employment application states, "Wheaton College seeks employees who fully subscribe to evangelical theology as expressed in the College’s STATEMENT OF FAITH, and who fully affirm the moral vision and accept the lifestyle obligations indicated in the COMMUNITY COVENANT."
Second, the "community covenant" directs you to live a "Christian life," which
"involves practicing those attitudes and actions the Bible portrays as
virtues and avoiding those the Bible portrays as sinful."
Third, the Bible condemns homosexual sex. The prescribed penalty is death (Lev. 20:13). And this isn't just an Old Testament thing: the New Testament continues to mention homosexuality in the same breath as killing your parents and slave trafficking (1 Timothy 1: 9 – 10).
Finally, If the Bible portrays a certain action
as a sin worthy of death or comparable to killing your parents and slave trafficking, then it thereby portrays the typical motivation
of said action as sinful too. Thus it portrays homosexual orientation as sinful. (Portraying it as sinful does not require explicitly saying that it is sinful.)
All told, that's a convincing case for 2. The argument is sound.
Wheaton discriminates against homosexual orientation, and so violates the letter, not just the spirit, of the APA's anti-discrimination policy.