Gay Marriage and Discrimination
by Matt Wilson
According to the American Dictionary of the English Language, the word discrimination means, “The act of distinguishing; the act of making or observing a difference.”
From a purely denotative standpoint, discrimination is nothing more than the act of comparing one person, place or thing with another. For example, when an employer has an open position, he or she will invariably discriminate during the selection of the new hire. The employer will compare the qualities of each applicant against those of the hypothetical ideal candidate. The person who best matches the qualities of the ideal candidate will be hired. Strictly speaking, such comparisons—such classifications— are forms of discrimination.
With that being said, what we generally consider to be discrimination is merely a subset of the true, dictionary definition. Connotatively, we use the word discrimination to describe classifications where the underlying set of criteria is socially unacceptable—particularly when such classifications result in disparate privileges being conferred. For example, if an employer discriminates based upon race, such discrimination is wrong because the underlying basis for such comparison is illegal. Conversely, if the employer discriminates based upon the level of the applicant’s education, then such discrimination would be perfectly acceptable. (After all, who wants a high school dropout performing brain surgery?)
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