No Faith-Based Exemptions from the Dictates of the State?

Update: I’m putting this letter to UVa’s “Daily Progress” at top because of it’s importance: “As a gay man, it is worth noting that not everyone in the LGBTQ community criticizes University of Virginia professor Douglas Laycock for his attempt to balance LGBTQ rights and religious freedom.” Indeed.

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As if any more evidence were needed of the illiberal mindset among progressives that’s spreading to (or is it from?) academia:

University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, by most measures a liberal who believes strongly in the separation of church and state (and husband of UVa President Teresa Sullivan) is being castigated by LGBT activists because his legal writings support allowing religious exemptions for private citizens from actions that violate their religious beliefs, such as being compelled to perform services on behalf of same-sex weddings or to purchase abortifacient contraceptives for employees:

“His work, whether he understands it or realizes it or not, is being used by folks who want to institute discrimination into law,” said Heather Cronk, co-director of Berkeley, California-based LGBT activist group GetEQUAL. … GetEQUAL has launched a national e-mail campaign calling out Laycock for his role in shoring up the legal arguments of those who support “religious bigotry.” … “I think it would be really constructive for him to hear how his work is being used to hurt the LGBTQ community,” said [UVa fourth-year student Greg] Lewis [among those recruited by GetEqual to take up the cause].

The activists “also also submitted a Freedom of Information Act request seeking e-mails between Laycock and various right-wing and religious liberty groups.” As if that isn’t intended to have a chilling effect on legal theorists in academia who don’t draw appropriate conclusions.

Responded Laycock: “My position has always been that liberty in America is for everyone. … It’s for both sides in the culture wars. I believe that we should protect gays and lesbians in their right to live their own lives, including their right to get married, and we should protect religious conscientious objectors.”

Laycock co-filed an amicus brief in Windsor (discussed here) that urged that the Supreme Court “protect the right to same-sex marriage, that religious liberty is not a sufficient reason to deny the right, but that the Court must attend to the religious liberty conflicts that same-sex marriage may create for religious believers and organizations who object to facilitating such marriages.”

But such advocacy on behalf of the rights of religious dissenters marks him as an enemy of the people.

More. It wasn’t too long ago that the left was dismissive of conservatives who argued criticism of the Patriot Act (by those who saw it as a danger to civil liberties) would “give ammunition to America’s enemies,” in the words of John Ashcroft. These days, consistent defenders of individual rights (and that, sadly, no longer includes the ACLU) seem few and far between, and always subject to accusations of supporting our “enemies” of one sort or another.

Furthermore. Walter Olson’s take, at Overlawyered.com, describing the activists’ Freedom of Information Act hunting expedition as “trying to arm-twist a tenured, well-recognized scholar who takes a position that the Forces of Unanimity consider wrong.”

And here’s Dahlia Lithwick at Slate.

And Jonathan H. Adler: “You don’t start a dialogue with FOIA requests.”

Stephen L. Carter writes: “Laycock’s wrong is to have taken the position that there may be cases in which individual religious freedom should trump compliance with law—a view that, during Bill Clinton’s administration, was considered the liberal position in our politics.”

Still more. Shame on gay couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins for not respecting the rights of other people. Baker Jack Phillips now will “no longer make any wedding cakes. He said he would be fine selling cupcakes for a birthday party for someone who is gay but added, ‘I don’t want to participate in a same-sex wedding.’” The state has moved in and “ordered the baker to submit quarterly reports about the customers he refuses to serve and retrain employees to serve everyone,” which he was already doing; it was participating in a same-sex marriage that he chose not to do. For authoritarians, such a chose is verboten.

84 Comments for “No Faith-Based Exemptions from the Dictates of the State?”

  1. posted by Lori Heine on

    To see these problems as coming unilaterally from the Left is quite bizarre. That Kool-Aid must be powerful stuff.

    It is not due to the influence of the Left that employers are still paying for employees’ health care in the first place. Whatever problems one might have with the concept of a single-payer system, it is crazy to lay the blame for companies being “forced” to pay for contraceptives or abortion solely on the Left.

    To ignore the absolutely wackiness emanating from the Right on the “religious freedom” issue is rank dishonesty, as well. The advocates of this supposed “freedom” are so extreme that merchants who post stickers on their windows saying they will serve everybody (as in Mississippi) are being castigated as “bullies” and “thugs.”

    The cuckoo-land partisan interpretations this site gives are getting increasingly entertaining. If we are not in Onion territory yet, we are skirting very close to the border.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      I have never worked for Hobby Lobby but I did work for a large retail chain in college. We could get health insurance through them but they most certainly weren’t “paying for it”. They paid little if any of the premiums. They just made it possible for us to buy insurance at the group rate. The idea that Hobby Lobby is paying 100% of its employees health insurance premiums (I have only seen that in nonprofit jobs) strains credulity. In spite of employees bearing most of the cost, the employer can still decide what items will and won’t be covered based on the employers religious beliefs? That’s insane. If they were paying for all of it, that might be an argument, but it seems exceedingly unlikely that they are. (And if so, they would be the only retail chain to do so.)

      And inadvertently this may provide the final argument needed to separate health insurance from employment. I shouldn’t have to ask my potential employer about his or her religious beliefs so that I don’t find out later that they are Jehovah’s Witness and therefore won’t pay for blood transfusions or that they are Christian Scientist and therefore don’t believe in prescription medicines. This is madness and it is baffling to me that those pushing this HL case can’t see that. In addition, a victory may mean and end to many of the protections that come with incorporating. The business cannot be subject to the owners’ prejudices while the owner is protected against personal legal and financial responsibility. (This is the reason that corporations are not filing amicus briefs in this case. They fear what might stem from the outcome of this case.)

    • posted by AG on

      Oh, no! Lori is outraged by yet another post denouncing gay McCarthyists.

      Your fellow gay progressives have lately revealed themselves to be rather ugly creatures. Deal with it instead of hysterically blaming Stephen, the Right, GayPatriot, etc. for everything. Also, if you’re so appalled by the posts on this site, you can ignore it and visit only the places where everyone agrees with you. This shouldn’t be difficult for a standard-issue leftist.

  2. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    I strongly support personal conscience exemptions that are religion-neutral (that is, apply to personal conscientious objection whether or not based on religious creed), class-neutral (that is, apply to discrimination affecting any class of citizens rather than limited to discrimination against gays and lesbians alone), and issue-neutral (that is, using marriage as an example, apply to personal conscientious objection to any type of marriage, rather than being limited t0 same-sex marriage).

    With the exception of Wisconsin’s proposed constitutional amendment, I have yet to see a proposed “religious freedom” law or proposal that meets the “religion-neutral, issue-neutral and class-neutral” tests. All others protect “religious conscience” but not other forms of personal conscientious objection, and almost all others are neither issue-neutral nor class-neutral. Most are nothing more than yet another attempt to carve out special rights for conservative Christians who object to same-sex marriage, and blatantly so.

    With respect to Doug Laycock, I’ve known him for close to 45 years. He puts his ideas into the marketplace of ideas, and he is well equipped to can handle a few lumps from those who don’t agree with him. He’s not a child and he doesn’t need coddling.

    • posted by Mark on

      I think this FOIA request was foolish and counterproductive, just as a similar request by right-wingers of former UVA professor Michael Mann (climate change) was foolish and counterproductive. I don’t remember Stephen criticizing the Mann FOIA.

      At this stage, I don’t understand why Stephen just doesn’t come out and say that he opposes anti-discrimination laws, as applied to sexual orientation. Instead, he claims to support all sorts of exemptions that would leave the laws toothless.

      As for Laycock, he seems like the classic concern troll. Over the past six years, starting in CT, VT, and ME in 2009, he showed up (usually with tag-team partner Robin Fretwell Wilson) writing public letters to state legislatures claiming that marriage laws would violate religious conscience unless the state in question basically gutted its public accommodations law. Legislature after legislature wisely rejected his advice, and, in the aftermath, his apocalyptic warnings have proven unfounded. At some point, you’d think he’d lose any credibility when commenting on this issue.

      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        As for Laycock, he seems like the classic concern troll. Over the past six years, starting in CT, VT, and ME in 2009, he showed up (usually with tag-team partner Robin Fretwell Wilson) writing public letters to state legislatures claiming that marriage laws would violate religious conscience unless the state in question basically gutted its public accommodations law.

        Although I’m not familiar with the specifics of the letters you cite, I’ve read quite of bit of Doug’s writing in law journals over the years, and I agree with him for the most part.

        I think that religious organizations should enjoy a broad exemption from laws that affect the conduct of their own affairs, including the right to marry or refuse to marry, as the case may be, any couple, gay or straight. I don’t think that anyone with the sense that God gave grasshoppers questions that …

        However, the current demand for “religious freedom” exemptions goes well beyond religious organizations, working to carve out an exemption for individuals and businesses. To me, that is wrongheaded.

        I note, for the sake of accuracy, the Doug does not support so-called “religious” exemptions to public accommodations laws for private businesses, but instead would allow a “de minimus” exemption to public accommodations laws:

        The principal religious-liberty issue is to protect the right of religious organizations to conduct their own affairs according to their own teachings. Contrary to much recent publicity, few responsible voices argue that businesses should have a religious-liberty right to discriminate against gays and lesbians as such, whether married or single. But we should exempt very small businesses, where the owner personally provides services, for owners with religious objections to directly assisting same-sex weddings or counseling same-sex couples. Coercing such business people to directly support the marriage violates conscience, and creates martyrs, with little tangible gain to same-sex couples.

        To the extent that conservative Christians are using Doug’s writing to support private business exemptions, except in the case of very small, family-owned businesses, is misusing what he writes. GetEqual is dead right on that score.

        I differ with Doug, however, on the wisdom of limiting the “de minimus” exemption as he appears to do. I believe that any de minimus exemption should meet the religion-neutral, issue-neutral and class-neutral tests. I would not, as Doug would apparently do, allow an exemption covering only religious conscience, or applicable only to same-sex marriages, or applicable only to public accommodations laws as they affect gays and lesbians.

        I also differ with Doug on the need for such an exemption. We’ve had public accommodations laws for years, the courts have upheld them, and the public at large accepts them. Nothing in the case of same-sex marriage gives rise to a need to unsettle our laws of many years standing.

        Whatever the need may be, or not, of one thing I am certain: If we are to have a “de minimus” exemption to public accommodations laws at all, the exemption should apply across the board.

        I know that is an extremely unpopular opinion, but that’s what I think.

        • posted by Mark on

          Here’s a copy of the letter Laycock (who, as I recall, also said there wasn’t anything wrong with the AZ bill) wrote to the governor of Maine in 2009:
          http://www.scribd.com/doc/110553251/Professor-Laycock-Letter-to-Governor-Baldacci

          He endorsed this Wilson letter (http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/files/sp-384-me-letter-to-governor.pdf), which conveniently popped up in the first TV ad run by the anti-gay marriage side in the campaign. (I don’t think Laycock never repudiated the ad.) He claimed to have written separately because he supported ssm and the others didn’t, but the message seemed to be if the choice was between no marriage and a law that didn’t also gut Maine’s public accommodations law, he’d prefer no marriage.

          The Wilson letter (as endorsed by Laycock) demanded the right for all religious individuals to be free from the public accommodations laws as they applied to “employment discrimination, housing, public accommodations” if these religious individuals refused “to treat as valid” any marriage between gay or lesbian couples.

          There was nothing in the Wilson letter (which Laycock endorsed) limiting the size of the business, provided it was a religious person, and not just a garden variety anti-gay, who owned the business. If adopted, the treat-as-valid clause would have allowed employers to refuse health care to only same-sex spouses, landlords to refuse to to rent to same-sex spouses, businesses to refuse to serve same-sex couples.

          Marriage has been legal in Maine for more than a year. None of the parade of horribles outlined in the Wilson letter has occurred in the state.

          As I said, I don’t support the FOIA at all, but the idea that Laycock has any credibility on this issue is open to question. At some point, if your predictions are constantly wrong, maybe it’s time to reconsider your argument. But he doesn’t seem to have taken that course.

        • posted by Mark on

          Laycock’s letter to Maine governor Baldacci, in which he endorsed a much longer letter by Wilson, is available online. (I included links in an earlier comment but saw the comment blocked by moderation.)

          The Maine letter endorsed an amendment shielding religious “individuals” from action under employment discrimination, equal housing, or public accommodations laws if the religious individual refused to “treat as valid” a same-sex marriage (but only such a marriage). There was no limitation of the proposal based on the size of the business run by the religious individual, and the validity language would have allowed a permanent non-recognition–20 years after the marriage, a business still legally could have refused to have sold goods to a same-sex couple.

          The letter predicted all kinds of persecution of the religious if the amendment weren’t adopted. But two years after ssm came to Maine, none of these terrible predictions have occurred.

          As I said, I don’t support the FOIA against Laycock. But Stephen’s description of him seems very one-sided.

          • posted by Tom Scharbach on

            Laycock’s letter, for those who wish to read it.

          • posted by Mark on

            And the Wilson letter (http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/files/sp-384-me-letter-to-governor.pdf) that Laycock endorsed. The Wilson letter appeared in the first ad of the anti-gay marriage campaign in 2009; I don’t think Laycock ever repudiated it.

            An article by Ira Lupu and Robert Tuttle discusses the Wilson-Laycock efforts in CT and NH.

          • posted by Tom Scharbach on

            The Wilson letter is a superb example of the folly of narrowly-defined “religious freedom” exemptions to public accommodations laws.

            It twists and turns, and eventually falls over over itself in layers of useless complexity. To borrow a phrase from Walter Olson, the letter is “overlawyered”.

            Far better, in my view, to include a “de minimus” exemption in public accommodations laws generally, and let it go at that …

            I realize that is not politically possible, because (1) the proposed bills are not motivated by a desire to protect personal conscientious objection, religious or otherwise, but instead to earmark; and (2) race, religion and gender discrimination is a “third rail” in American politics, so any proposal that would allow any hint of that, however minimally, is dead in the water.

            But none the less

      • posted by AG on

        “I think this FOIA request was foolish and counterproductive, just as a similar request by right-wingers of former UVA professor Michael Mann (climate change) was foolish and counterproductive. I don’t remember Stephen criticizing the Mann FOIA.”

        Maybe because Stephen and his blog focus on gay issues. I cannot recall whether Stephen ever wrote about global warming hysteria.

  3. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    These days, consistent defenders of individual rights (and that, sadly, no longer includes the ACLU) are few and far between.

    Utter, total, bullshit. The ACLU does more to protect religious freedom in a month than you’ve done in your entire life.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      The ACLU is one of many bogey-men for the right. The fact that they often defend right wing groups in civil liberty cases seems not to change that, but then facts rarely make it inside the noise machine.

  4. posted by Mike in Houston on

    It must be really nice to sit in an inclusive enclave where there are LGBT-inclusive public accommodation laws, employment protections and legalized same-sex marriage — and make pronouncements like Stephen continually does about progressives and liberal mindsets and statism, etc.

    Never mind that there has not been a single public accommodation case won in court with regards to LGBT public accommodations & employment protections… for good reason. (See Scalia, Employment Division v. Smith, 1990)

    I am just glad that Stephen isn’t down here in Houston where we’re fighting to get a basic non-discrimination statute passed… no doubt he would be up there testifying with noted Constitutional scholar, Becky Riggle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXE8vKM7h6A

    “But what if someone doesn’t believe in my faith?” Cohen, who is Jewish, asked Riggle.

    “I’m saying they have the right, if they want to, to be able to refuse service if it goes against their religious beliefs,” Riggle responded.

    “If I’m asking for service and my faith is something that troubles them, they have a right to refuse me service? So you’re saying yes, they do have a right to refuse me service as someone of the Jewish faith?” Cohen asked.

    Riggle said, “Yes, I am saying that. But that is not the issue that we’re talking about today.”

    Her arguments are just as coherent as every one of Stephen’s posts on this topic.

    Having testified (4 times) and sat through more than 48 hours of public testimony (the majority pro-equality), it’s more than a little irritating to hear the echoed nonsense from the religious intolerant from someone supposedly in our community.

  5. posted by Jorge on

    Sorry, but it looks like GetEQUAL is pulling its punches on this one. GetEQUAL enters combat mode pretty quickly and it portrays a rather fervent left-wing mindset, but it usually hits the mark cleanly. “We just want to talk about why we’re upset” is not illiberal, and it’s not illiberal to find some consternation in what they’re seeing. Just a little OD on the LGBT PTSD. It’s hard to see any purpose to its statement of dissatisfaction toward such an entrenched intellectual. I think it is trying to deal some collateral damage somewhere instead.

    That said, you always have to watch for the rank-and-file.

    Having testified (4 times) and sat through more than 48 hours of public testimony (the majority pro-equality), it’s more than a little irritating to hear the echoed nonsense from the religious intolerant from someone supposedly in our community.

    It’s quite a bit more than irritating for me to read Leviticus Bummer 1 and Leviticus Bummer 2 from the holy book of the God that’s supposed to be on my side. What would you have us do? This country was founded on religious freedom. The very first amendment of the Bill of Rights holds that no religion shall be established, and no freedom of religion shall be infringed.

    • posted by Lori Heine on

      I would be perfectly agreeable to let the anti’s have their “religious freedom” if I believed that was what this is all about.

      Two words: NORTH CAROLINA.

      This is not what it’s all about, and they’ve tipped their hand in the Tarheel State.

      Two more words: WINDOW STICKERS.

      Are those whose convictions — on the part of some, secular, and of many others, religious — are expressed by placing “We Serve Everybody” stickers in their windows not also protected under the First Amendment of our Constitution?

      Evidently not in Mississippi.

      This is an attempt at a special carve-out. And it will lead, by the back-door, into the establishment not only of a particular religious faith, but of a subset of that faith — and one that is shrinking daily.

      The fact that it is shrinking is, I think, precisely the reason for the push. That, and the fact that those in the Republican Party with no souls, and no scruples, whatsoever want to put libertarian lipstick on a social conservative pig.

      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        This is an attempt at a special carve-out.

        Precisely.

        The proposed “religious exemptions” are the constitutional equivalent of earmarking, a baldfaced attempt to grant conservative Christians an exemption to non-discrimination laws applicable in the case of same-sex marriage and in that case alone. The underlying purpose of the proposed laws, as you point out and as is evidenced by the situation in Mississippi, is not to protect “religious freedom” so much as it is to perpetuate longstanding cultural discrimination against gays and lesbians.

        Whether we favor broad personal conscience exemptions to laws of general application (as I do) or more narrow exemptions (as most others seem to do), the proposed laws are not laws that should be enacted. The laws, as proposed, are lousy public policy.

        • posted by Mike in Houston on

          I have yet to see this circle “squared” by Stephen or the rest. To quote Scalia:

          …The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind — ranging from compulsory military service to the payment of taxes to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, and traffic laws; to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races.”

          But then again, it’s really all about creating special rights for people of certain types of beliefs (primarily anti-gay evangelical christianists) to behave as they wish without regard to civil or even social approbation or consequence.

          • posted by Jorge on

            ranging from compulsory military service to the payment of taxes to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, and traffic laws; to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races.”

            Ummmm… we already have religious exemptions for most of those.

            Compulsory military service, check; vaccination laws, check; animal cruelty laws, check; child labor laws (looks up Catholic altar boys), check; payment of taxes… well, it applies to laws compelling the payment of union dues; drug laws, check; child neglect laws, see vaccination laws and drug laws, and I’d wager there’s little you can do to prevent reparative therapy, especially in practical terms, so, check.

            Which leaves manslaughter laws, traffic laws, minimum wage laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for the equality of the races.

            You might want to choose a better foundation for your argument.

  6. posted by Critics hit U.Va. Prof. Douglas Laycock with FOIA - Overlawyered on

    […] It might also be time for legislators to clarify state open-records laws to determine under what circumstances they can be used to go after academics, and consider altering them, where appropriate, to provide for financial or other sanctions when they are misused. (& Steve Miller, IGF) […]

  7. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    … the Forces of Unanimity …

    Snort. Shades of the “One True Party” oft cited in StephenWorld™ posts. If there is anything that ties fundamentalist Christians and right-wing libertarians together, other than their common interest in keeping the Republican Party in power, it is their use of initial caps specialized vocabulary in odd ways.

    • posted by Lori Heine on

      I think I remember the Forces of Unanimity from Star Trek. Weren’t they from that weird planet that glowed — the one that the Klingons blew up?

      There is definitely something very science fiction-y about a lot of Right-Wing rhetoric.

  8. posted by Tom Jefferson III on

    The big problem is that depending on how religious exemptions are written/applied, they can pretty much be used to exempt someone from having to follow ANY civil rights or health and safety or labor law that they dislike.

    The details really do matter in an issue like this, and (for one reason or another) we seem to have lots of vocal people too bored to talk about details, when they can just shoot out buzzwords and slogans.

  9. posted by Tom Jefferson III on

    –Compulsory military service,

    A religious exemption does exist, although it probably will not become tested – in the modern arena — as long as we have a ‘professional’ military.

    —Vaccination laws

    If you are going to attend a public school (for example) I would have to say that some vaccinations should be required.

    –animal cruelty laws

    I am not entirely sure where you are going with this one. Um. Yes, animal sacrifice is permitted — under certain circumstances — Again, the details matters.

    –child labor laws (looks up Catholic altar boys)

    If the Catholic Church wanted to sent Catholic altar boys down a dangerous mineshaft (“children have such small hands”), then their religious exemption probably wouldn’t fly.

    Most of what Catholic altar boys do — in terms of work for the Church — is not really dangerous. (Setting aside complaints about Church doctrine).

    —payment of union dues

    Yes, If you belong to a labor union.

    –drug laws

    A private employee screening for illegal drugs does not raise the same sort of issues when the government itself is doing it. Again, I think think of very few situations where a religion has been able to exempt itself from drug laws and private employee drug testing.

    • posted by Mike in Houston on

      For the record, I was quoting Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

      The gist of Employment Division v. Smith is that where to draw the line — without creating a blanket exemption for anyone and everyone’s (alleged) religious beliefs.

      Yes — there is a conscientious objection clause in the military service law… BUT you still have to sign up for selective service at age 18 (for men anyway) since we have an all volunteer military now, regardless of your beliefs.

    • posted by Jorge on

      If you are going to attend a public school (for example) I would have to say that some vaccinations should be required.

      The laws in my state allow you to opt out if you have a religious objection. Let’s favor Tom Scharbach for a bit: any personal objection applies, too. I doubt very much that the denial of a religious exemption would survive constitutional muster, if that hasn’t been tested already.

      If you would say that this is such a basic public health thing, then much can be inferred about religious freedom if it can prevail in this situation.

      I am not entirely sure where you are going with this one.

      The banning of the ritual slaughter of meat in Jewish communities under an animal cruelty law became the subject of a religious freedom case somewhere in Europe. They would kill the cattle by cutting its throat. I don’t know if that’s been tested here. If it were, I’d expect it to be laughed out of court.

      Yes, If you belong to a labor union.

      A union must honor a religious objection. You still pay 100% of the dues, but it goes to a charity, not the union. This is settled law.

      A private employee screening for illegal drugs does not raise the same sort of issues when the government itself is doing it.

      When the consequences of a drug law or policy are imprisonment or a criminal record, that is a lot more serious than when you’re talking about a private agreement to perform labor for someone.

      This one has been tested and mostly failed. Marijuana: No. Peyote: Very rarely. Sacramental wine? There’s an exemption in the law (it’s a narrow one).

      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        Let’s favor Tom Scharbach for a bit: any personal objection applies, too.

        If you are going to favor, then at least quote me accurately and don’t trivialize.

        I have been very clear over a long series of posts: I am talking about conscientious objection, religious or non-religious — a matter of personal conscience, firmly and sincerely held, that forbids a person from complying with a law, regardless of the the consequences of non-compliance.

        • posted by Tom Scharbach on

          I want to amplify this a bit, with examples, so that there is no misunderstanding, Jorge.

          I am not talking about whim. I am not talking about mere belief. I am talking about a level of conscience that goes to the core of a man, a level of conscience that is so deeply rooted that to deliberately act against it would be to condemn him. I think that it is was Thomas More who said that a man must follow his conscience even unto eternal damnation. That’s the level of conscience that I am talking about, not “personal objection”.

          Let me illustrate that with examples.

          I know two men, one family and one a close friend of many years, who refused to serve in the Vietnam War.

          Both believed, as a matter of conscience, that it is wrong to take a human life or to participate in doing so. Both sought conscientious objector status.

          One is a Quaker, was granted conscientious objector status, and was assigned two years of alternate service, which he performed. The other was not of a religion that qualified for conscientious objection under the laws of the period, was refused conscientious objector status, and was convicted and sentenced. Both remained true to the dictates of their conscience, and paid the price for holding true.

          That is the level of personal conscience that I am talking about.

          Now let me contrast that with my own situation. I served. When I was discharged I went squirrel hunting with friends, shot and killed a squirrel. As I picked it up, something snapped in me, and I was done with killing. I had done all the killing I was going to do. It isn’t a matter of conscience. I have no objection to killing in war or for defense of life (assuming that no alternative exists). I am simply done with killing.

          Those examples, I hope, illustrate the difference between conscientious objection and “personal objection”.

        • posted by Jorge on

          If you are going to favor, then at least quote me accurately and don’t trivialize.

          I have been very clear over a long series of posts: I am talking about conscientious objection, religious or non-religious — a matter of personal conscience, firmly and sincerely held, that forbids a person from complying with a law, regardless of the the consequences of non-compliance.

          That strikes me as exactly what I was referring to. As for trivializing, it was meant as a mild compliment as someone who respects but does not support your overall view.

          …I am not talking about whim. I am not talking about mere belief. I am talking about a level of conscience that goes to the core of a man, a level of conscience that is so deeply rooted that to deliberately act against it would be to condemn him.

          Those examples, I hope, illustrate the difference between conscientious objection and “personal objection”.

          They do not sufficiently explain why you object to me using the term “personal objection” to describe what you define “conscientious objection.” This is entirely unnecessary. Cool it.

          • posted by Houndentenor on

            I can’t be the only person rolling my eyes at the assumption that right-wing Fundamentalist Christians are the only ones who have core beliefs or values. We all do and ours are no less deserving of respect under the law. What if they are successful in receiving broad religious exemptions and suddenly find that no wholesale floral suppliers are willing to do business with an anti-gay business because of THEIR religious beliefs?

          • posted by Jimmy on

            “They do not sufficiently explain why you object to me using the term “personal objection” to describe what you define ‘conscientious objection.'”

            Yes they do, and since you obtusely refuse to get it, quite necessary.

  10. posted by Lori Heine on

    I think this is the gist of it. The anti’s are trying to accomplish one or the other of two things:

    (1) Get everyone to accept the notion that they are the only ones who have deep beliefs and convictions, or —

    (2) Elevate theirs to a higher plane, and a more important priority, than everyone else’s.

    They either don’t think anyone else holds convictions strongly enough to apply freedom of conscience to the way we live our lives, or they want a special carve-out recognizing THEIR convictions only.

    As a Christian who believes that Christian morality centers on doing unto others as we would have them do unto us (something that, unlike condemning “homosexuality,” Jesus is actually recorded in the Bible as having said), I think that enshrining into law the prejudices of those who treat others as less than themselves is ANTI Christian. And I don’t regard that as a greater recognition of people’s deeply-held beliefs.

    The wacky-world, up-is-down and dark-is-light view of reality taken by the advocates of the fundamentalist view is Orwellian. It uses the language of freedom and justice in an attempt to achieve what would actually be their opposite.

    • posted by Don on

      Lori, I think you got to the nub of it. For me, it’s basically narcissism. “My” beliefs are the only ones that matter because I’m right and unless you agree with me, you’re wrong. So my beliefs should be law and yours should be outlawed. Why? Because my idea of what God thinks is actually what God thinks.

      Discussion over.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Mississippi recently enacted a law that would seem to give conservative Christians everything that they want in the way of “religious freedom”, and the end result was that conservative Christians tossed a fit. Trying to satisfy these folks is a dead end, and the sooner Stephen realizes that, the better.

  11. posted by Tom Jefferson III on

    Minnesota has just recently pass a medical marijuana law. Will be interesting to watch unfold. For example, So, can employees still test for pot and fire people for a ‘medical condition’?

    —When the consequences of a drug law or policy are imprisonment or a criminal record, that is a lot more serious than when you’re talking about a private agreement to perform labor for someone. –

    It certainly raises more serious Constitutional-legal issues. However, I do think you are somewhat belittling the practical considerations here (especially as they can apply to religious freedom issues.

    See more at: http://igfculturewatch.com/2014/05/25/8608/#comments

  12. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Congratulations to Mike in Houston and the others who worked hard to bring non-discrimination to Houston.

    • posted by Jorge on

      Well, well. I’m glad to have a record handy of it.

      Your link says the Houston Area Pastors Council is attempting to put a repeal vote on the ballot.

      Now, when the repeal fails (and it will fail) that will be powerful. Should attempts to stand the ground be done now (to convince people not to sign) or later (when it hits the ballot to convince people not to repeal it)?

      • posted by Houndentenor on

        That’s exactly what happened in the early 90s. The city council passed the ordinance and a ballot initiative repealed it. Hopefully there’s more public support for equal rights in 2014 than there was in 199?.

    • posted by Mike in Houston on

      Thanks!

      Yesterday was yet another marathon session — more than 250 people signed up to speak… but because certain anti-gay pastors who had spoken earlier were not moved up on the speakers list, they got huffy and walked out. The final tally of speakers yesterday was 180 for / 27 against… including a lady who sang “Jesus Loves Me” before going off into an anti-gay rant.

      We fully expect to have this on a referendum this fall — the number of signatures to get it on the ballot is pretty low (about 17,000)… which the Pastors of PrejudiceTM should be able to get fairly easily.

      It will be interesting to see what the language of the petitions will be — but those of us that were organized for ordinance passage are already meeting to plan out the campaign — including already having a PAC in place and a preemptive FOIA request for review of any petitions turned in.

  13. posted by Doug on

    Yesterday Senator Orin Hatch gave an interview on KSL radio and said:
    “Let’s face it: anybody who does not believe that gay marriage is going to be the law of the land just hasn’t been observing what’s going on,”.
    And also:
    “Sooner or later gay marriage is probably going to be approved by the Supreme Court of the United States, and certainly as the people in this country move toward it, especially young people,” Hatch said. “I don’t think that’s the right way to go, on the other hand, I do accept whatever the courts have to say.”

    To bad other conservatives, like Stephen who wants to institutionalize discrimination, can’t accept equality and just move on.

  14. posted by BobN on

    Laycock co-filed an amicus brief in Windsor (discussed here) that urged that the Supreme Court “protect the right to same-sex marriage, that religious liberty is not a sufficient reason to deny the right, but that the Court must attend to the religious liberty conflicts that same-sex marriage may create for religious believers and organizations who object to facilitating such marriages.”

    There is one sentence in that brief that says he supports SSM and dozens and dozens of pages asserting the right of individuals and businesses to IGNORE legal marriages of gay couples. Oddly, Laycock’s beliefs about religious freedom do not include the right of individuals to ignore the rights of religious believers with whom they disagree. It’s all very, very one-sided against gay people.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      There is one sentence in that brief that says he supports SSM and dozens and dozens of pages asserting the right of individuals and businesses to IGNORE legal marriages of gay couples.

      What fascinates me about Laycock’s intense level of activity — sufficient to write letters to governors, involve himself in the legislative process, and submit amicus briefs — is that the level of activity seems out of proportion to the level of his concern.

      Consider this excerpt from the Maine letter:

      Same-sex marriage will be backed by law, backed by the state, and backed by a large and growing number of private institutions. Much of the dissent will gradually fade away, and nearly all the rest will go silent, succumbing to the live-and-let-live traditions of the American people. The number of people who assert their right toconscientious objection will be small in the beginning, and it will gradually decline toinsignificance if deprived of the chance to rally around a series of martyrs.

      Laycock, like most thoughtful folks who have looked at this issue, knows that the number of business owners who will asset religious conscientious objection is minimal — less than a dozen instances so far, by my reckoning — but he seems concerned that conservative Christians will amplify the molehill into a mountain:

      Nor is it in the interest of the gay and lesbian community to create religious martyrs in the enforcement of this bill. To impose legal penalties or civil liabilities on a wedding planner who refuses to do a same-sex wedding … will simply ensure that conservative religious opinion onthis issue can repeatedly be aroused to fever pitch. Every such case will be in the news repeatedly, and every such story will further inflame the opponents of same-sex marriage. Refusing exemptions to such religious dissenters will politically empower the most demagogic opponents of same-sex marriage. It will ensure that the issue remains alive, bitter, and deeply divisive./blockquote>

      The uproar has certainly taken place, but the American people, a people deeply rooted in common sense, don’t seem to have bought into the apocalyptic catastrophic vision posited by Brian Brown, Bryan Fischer and Tony Perkins and all the other right-wingers working to “inflame” the American people.

      Given that, I frankly wonder whether Laycock should rethink a bit. I can see that turning our legislatures upside down in order to enact freedom of conscience laws would be worth it if, in the end, we were going to get honest laws actually protecting freedom of conscience. But to do it all for the sake of allowing a tiny number of business owners to perpetuate discrimination against gays and lesbians for a few years longer? It just doesn’t seem worth the effort, even if — and I don’t agree that it is — the right thing to do.

      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        A formatting note: The last two paragraphs (“The uproar has certainly taken place …” and subsequent) should not be indented. The paragraphs are mine and not part of Laycock’s letter.

    • posted by Jorge on

      I forgot to finish my second point.

      Orrin Hatch is in a position to evaluate the judiciary, and he has made a decision to trust it. He is entitled to have his opinion taken seriously.

      The rest of the country is in a position to evaluate social and political trends and the powers behind them. The judgment of whether or not the current changes are praiseworthy or nefarious belongs to all of us. To malign people and demand they “accept” things and “move on” when their honest observations lead to a different conclusion is only an invitation to have your own integrity and judgment maligned, that the issue may be decided by which side has the greatest quantity of mud to throw.

      • posted by Jorge on

        (Ai-yi yi, not where I wanted this comment to end up. Now I know how Lori feels on this site.)

  15. posted by Jorge on

    …The final tally of speakers yesterday was 180 for / 27 against…

    Public power, eh? I see. For all the bluster, the outcome has already been decided.

    Doug’s quote below shows this as well. I don’t agree with his conclusion, though. Orrin Hatch is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is in an excellent position to be patriotic about the methods, standards, and overall good faith of this country’s judiciary (notwithstanding the fact that he votes partisan on Supreme Court nominees).

    I can see that turning our legislatures upside down in order to enact freedom of conscience laws would be worth it if, in the end, we were going to get honest laws actually protecting freedom of conscience. But to do it all for the sake of allowing a tiny number of business owners to perpetuate discrimination against gays and lesbians for a few years longer? It just doesn’t seem worth the effort, even if — and I don’t agree that it is — the right thing to do.

    I am not sympathetic to this argument. People have been making critical cost-benefit analyses for years about civil rights laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and employment non-discrimination laws. There’s a dirty little secret in anti-discrimination laws: they all have the side effect of allowing a tiny minority of non-conformists to crash the system in situations that offer minimal public benefit and much cost both publicly and privately.

    Here we have a situation in which decent, law-abiding citizens are being threatened with attack by the powers of the state, with the consequences being that one is shut out of their livelihood, not allowed to make a living, or at the very least, given such huge fines as to make a business untenable.

    Okay, the state does that all the time. But always in a way that is corrective, that leads to better behavior and better citizenship.

    Here we are talking about punishing people for their good behavior and citizenship, for the very name, practice, and belief of their religion. Not simply because of their random demographics, but because of their honor and integrity toward something so fundamental, personal, and precious, that we have decided to give it the highest protection in this country. This is at the heart of why non-discrimination civil rights laws have been passed in this country, even at the cost of other facets of the public interest.

    • posted by Lori Heine on

      “Good behavior and citizenship?”

      Baloney spumoni.

      Distorting their scriptures to “justify” abusing other people does not pass the smell test.

      By that same logic, when Islamist terrorists hijack jetliners and crash them into buildings, they are exhibiting good behavior and citizenship. Because, after all, they are practicing the tenets (according to their deluded view) of their faith.

      And spare me, please, with the protest that Islamic scripture-distorters go farther because they kill people, so their distortion is wrong and American Christianists’ is right. If we let these people get away with their crap, they’ll never stop pushing for more.

      The principle is the same in either case.

      If these people — who are, in my opinion, fake Christians and followers of Antichrist theology — want to be free to practice their religion, they can do it without passing laws burdening the rest of us under the strictures of their delusions.

      As Tom has noted, for these people enough is never enough.

      • posted by Jorge on

        By that same logic, when Islamist terrorists hijack jetliners and crash them into buildings, they are exhibiting good behavior and citizenship. Because, after all, they are practicing the tenets (according to their deluded view) of their faith.

        Leaving aside the observation that you are comparing the harm inflicted by a legal tort (if that) to that of an act of war, a host of other less generous ways to describe your comparison, and your irrevelent attempt to prevent me from calling you out on either the merits or the gratuitous nature of your red herring, no, I am not talking about faith, I am talking about citizenship.

        Change the example to suicide bombings and you have one of the reasons why the United States went to war against Iraq, and why Israel stepped up its military campaign against the Palestinians around the same time. Keep the example as it is and you have another, as you zoom in on the Palestinians dancing in the streets and Iraq’s government cheering. In these nations, acts of international terrorism were acts of good citizenship, for which reason the United States and Israel, having very different values and interests, went to war against them. There is no need to observe that Iraq only rewarded this “good citizenship” when practiced in other countries.

        However, in this country, religion, protected by its free expression, is recognized as part of a common tradition that is of benefit to society both privately and publicly. It’s why all nine Supreme Court Justices recently affirmed an old court case permitting prayer in public government meetings, and why five of them refused to place a content restriction on such prayer.

        Although we have the luxury of a voluntary military, if the need became great, I may yet be called to defend this country and the values for which it stands, abandoning my preferences and capabilities. Death and violence are terrible things, but this country and its values are very much worth protecting.

        They are obviously not law biding or they would not be being sued for not following the law.

        Doug, that’s like saying you’re not law-abiding if you’re double-parking. You trapped someone’s car, you made someone go around, you are a Tuesday-eating, rock-licking son of Behennazabul–according to some people I drive with, anyway. And there are actually people in this country who file lawsuits because people double-park on their cars and make them go around. They get laughed out of court. They are not sane. They are loco.

        But because gays have been put upon by people who “only want to discriminate against the LGBT community and let every other ‘sin’ go unnoticed”, and because people go around spreading as a putative mainstream value that religion and faith are the enemy there are some perfectly sane people who think their hair-trigger wedding rage is justified against anyone who inconveniences them. They think it is perfectly reasonable to believe that anyone who would dissent from them is part of the group that’s out to get them.

        That is far from just cause to condemn and punish businesses that refuse to patronize gay weddings because of the religious faith of their owners.

        • posted by Lori Heine on

          How interesting, Jorge! I can leave the door open and you’ll simply walk through it. I knew you were going to say those things — and then you said them! Lo and behold! The only surprise is that half a dozen of the Brat Pack from GP didn’t come shrieking over to join you.

          I was not comparing the actions of Islamist extremists and those of their Christianist kindred. I was remarking upon their underlying similarities.

          If left unchecked, Christianists will head in the same direction as Islamists — in that they will increasingly come to disregard the teachings of their own scriptures (or most of them) in favor of a few disingenuous extractions from those scriptures, taken out of context.

          The form that takes may not include blowing up buildings. It may manifest itself in a callous disregard for human life — based upon the dehumanization of the enemy — that looks quite different. Undoubtedly, some sanitized, Madison Avenue name will be found for it.

          Decent behavior, patriotism, love of Mom and apple pie — some nicer label will be found. It always is.

          Jorge, I thought you were better than that. Skirting within a fraction of an inch of calling me a liar or a nut, and zooming off on some hyper-macho B.S. about how John Wayne you’d be in a war.

          Sounds better than saying how many kids you’d kill in foreign countries. Which, given what war is, is more likely what you’d be called upon to do.

        • posted by Doug on

          In case you have forgotten, Jorge, Iraq had nothing to do with the suicide bombings on 9/11.

          And just to remind you, double parking is not exactly the same as violating civil rights laws passed by Congress.

    • posted by Doug on

      I don’t know what pie in the sky fantasy world you live in to believe these people are ‘law biding citizens having honor and integrity’. They are obviously not law biding or they would not be being sued for not following the law. As for honor and integrity, they only want to discriminate against the LGBT community and let every other ‘sin’ go unnoticed. This is not honor and integrity. . . it’s hypocrisy, which knows no bounds with that crowd.

  16. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Mike Fleck, an openly gay Pennsylvania Republican State Senator who lost his Republican primary bid, will be running in the general election this fall on the Democratic ticket, thanks to write-in votes in the Democratic primary. No word on whether Fleck, who denies that his coming out had anything to do with his loss in the Republican primary after winning reelection for six consecutive terms, will sit with the Republicans or the Democrats if reelected in November.

  17. posted by Carl on

    I have a feeling this will be the new Phil Robertson/Brendan Eich/Benham Brothers/etc. Get out those petitions.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/05/29/gay_couple_kicked_out_of_restaurant_for_being_gay.html

    • posted by Carl on

      Sorry for the weird margin thing.

      • posted by Tom Jefferson III on

        1. Does Texas or just East Texas include sexual orientation in its civil rights laws? That would settle the issue of whether or not the discrimination is legal or illegal.

        2. It seems rather… interesting that the man had zero problem taking the couple’s money. Apparently, no one said anything to them while they were eating or what-have you.

        • posted by Lori Heine on

          Interesting, but not surprising. They’ve rigged the tax code to take our money every April 15th.

        • posted by Houndentenor on

          There is no Texas law against discrimination against gay people. Several of the largest cities have ordinances (Houston passed one just this week) but if you are outside one of those city limits it is perfectly legal for a business to refuse service to you because you are gay.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      My guess is that this one will be a blip and nothing more, but Big Earl’s attitude is common, and not just in East Texas — “We don’t mind fags as long as they act straight.”

      We hear variants of that kind of crap all the time in rural Wisconsin, and I imagine that most of you do, too. It is all part of “We don’t want to see you ..”

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Having thought about this a little more, I think that there’s a real chance that Big Earl could become the conservative celebrity of the week, assuming that he is moderately photogenic in a “big man” sort of way, like Joe the Plumber.

      He certainly has the right combination of mashing God, Guns and Guts together into nonsense, not to mention down-home Texas belligerence.

      From the store’s FB page:

      My goodness, does anyone read or study? Big Earl has spent his life in the military to defend this country and will be happy to explain the constitution to you. Earl is well versed in the Bible and Christianity, has travelled the world and is well educated. It would have been nice for the full interview to have played in order to explain the background to what caused the incidence. The quote “we don’t serve fags here” was never said, instead, after being badgered, the young lady said “We do not like fags”. The behavior portrayed by the young couple was simply inappropriate and would have been considered so no matter what sexual orientation.

      And from the interview with KRLD radio:

      “Homosexuality, Blacks, Hispanics — they all come in here — everybody comes in here to eat. I’ve served my country for over 20 years; I know what my freedoms are. I’m not gonna have people coming in here with their butt showing; I’m not gonna have people coming in here naked; I’m not gonna have people coming in here having sex on the tables.”/blockquote>

      Near perfect pitch to get the juices of the blowhard wing of the Tea Party movement flowing. Maybe he can get a booth at the Texas Republican convention and sell some “We bait ‘em, but don’t hate ‘em …” fishing gear.

      I doubt that he’ll pick up the Brian Brown, Bryan Fischer or Tony Perkins crowed, though — he’s too guileless and not mean enough to turn their crank.

      • posted by Jorge on

        When I saw the headline, my first thought was about the fake zero tip because the server was a lesbian incident.

        When I read the story, I came to about that same conclusion, but about the owner instead. He’s not telling the whole story.

        I’m sure the customers probably did make a scene over some gay-related slight or insult. The women my mother’s family demand good treatment and believe in holding people accountable. My father loses his temper outright about once every 10 years or so. We don’t know all the details or the order of what happened, whether they got barred because they made a scene, whether they made a scene because they got barred, or how heated the scene actually was.

        • posted by Doug on

          “I’m sure the customers probably did make a scene over some gay-related slight or insult.”
          You sure are quick to judge without any facts, and it’s really interesting that you negatively judged the LGBT person involved and even initially believed it was some sort of lie.

          It’s pretty clear where your sympathies lie.

  18. posted by Houndentenor on

    BTW, yes, there are parts of the Patriot Act that violate the US Constitution. I don’t know how anyone can deny that.

  19. posted by Jim Michaud on

    I don’t think this Big Earl’s dust up will have legs beyond east Texas. For starters, it isn’t a chain. It’s not as if fellow soc cons can just amble over and visit their local Big Earl’s to show solidarity. Secondly is their use of an anti-gay slur. Say what you will about Mr. Cathy, but at least he was savvy enough not to resort to using the f or q words. Also, are the owners telegenic? If the dude resembles that billboard depiction or when you see them, the first thing that pops into your mind is the theme from “Deliverance”, then it won’t go far.

    • posted by Tom Jefferson III on

      Big Earl did not violate any Texas State, City or County Laws — based on what I have heard.

      I doubt that any ban on PDA — Public Displays Of Affections — is taken seriously by Big Earl. If opposite sex and same sex were actually bound by the rule, it would be taken seriously. I doubt that is the situation here.

      At some point the owner’s daughter felt it was appropriate to call customers “faggots” or a similar word. Such language used against a customers is totally unprofessional and inappropriate.

      In America the ‘customer is king’ and frankly, verbally abusing customers — paying customers — is simply unacceptable in the service industry. Legal? Perhaps, but worthy of all of the scorn and disrespect that can be mustered.

      If something like that happened to me — I would probably insist on a refund.

  20. posted by Mike in Houston on

    Since the cake baker in Colorado lost (again) today, expecting the next round of Stephen nonsense in 3 – 2 – 1…

    • posted by AG on

      Do you really think that most people who are not gay/progressive fascists won’t find the decision blatantly unfair?

      “the panel required [baker Jack] Phillips to submit quarterly reports for two years that show how he has worked to change discriminatory practices by altering company policies and training employees. Phillips also must disclose the names of any clients who are turned away.”

      You progs destroy everything.

      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        What part of “settled law” don’t you understand, AG?

        The courts involved in these cases are applying long-standing precedent concerning public accommodations laws. The precedent goes back 50 years, and the perimeters were established by the Supreme Court.

        Conservative Christians want to carve out a narrow exception for themselves involving gays and lesbians, and gays and lesbians alone. Is it really so important that we have to overturn settled law to accommodate them in this single instance?

        If so, how do we distinguish discrimination against gays and lesbians from discrimination based on race, or gender, or religion, or ethnicity? What makes discrimination against gays and lesbians acceptable, but discrimination based on race, gender, religion or ethnicity not?

        The business owners who are bringing these lawsuits are losing them because they cannot come up with a rational answer to that simple question.

      • posted by Doug on

        What we ‘progs’ are trying to destroy is the rank discrimination that the evangelical right wishes to practice in everyday commerce unrelated to any religious institution.

        • posted by Carl on

          Wasn’t Progs Joan Crawford’s last movies?

          • posted by Jim Michaud on

            I can’t tell whether you’re joking or not. “Trog” (1970) was Joan Crawford’s final film. I’ve seen better film on teeth. What a stinkeroo to end a glorious career.

          • posted by Carl on

            I wasn’t 100% sure, but mostly joking. That’s what “progs” reminds me of.

      • posted by Mike in Houston on

        One of the things that I want AG, Stephen and the rest who keep harping on the need for certain christian sects to have a carve out from public accommodation laws to answer is: where does this carve out end?

        You use the example of this baker in CO — or the florist in WA, or the photographer in NM — all of whom have lost their cases in court after court ( the NM case in both State and U.S. Supreme Courts).

        Let’s say, for the sake of argument that it’s okay for someone to refuse service for a wedding cake because somehow providing that cake makes them “complicit” in the sin according to their religious beliefs… does that exception also include not serving them any other baked goods because they might be used to celebrate an anniversary? Or a birthday cake for the child of a same-sex couple because that would affirm their “sinful lifestyle”?

        Does that photographer who won’t photograph a same-sex wedding also get a pass on taking a family photo that includes a same-sex couple? Or of a child of a same-sex couple?

        I’m just asking, because that’s a really slippery slope you’ve got us on in a pluralistic society.

        I suspect that I’ll hear crickets on this, but am willing to keep an open mind as to where the religious exemption begins and ends for LGBT folks with regards to public accommodation laws in the minds of those who seem to think that “progs destroy everything”.

        • posted by Tom Scharbach on

          A very good question, Mike.

          Along those lines, I’d like AG, Stephen and the rest to explain the public policy rationale for permitting discrimination against gays and lesbians under public accommodation laws but not permitting discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity or religion under those laws.

          The question posed to Becky Riggle in Houston and her answer go to the heart of the reason why the cake-makers and picture-takers have been losing in the courts:

          “But what if someone doesn’t believe in my faith?” Cohen, who is Jewish, asked Riggle.

          “I’m saying they have the right, if they want to, to be able to refuse service if it goes against their religious beliefs,” Riggle responded.

          “If I’m asking for service and my faith is something that troubles them, they have a right to refuse me service? So you’re saying yes, they do have a right to refuse me service as someone of the Jewish faith?” Cohen asked.

          Riggle said, “Yes, I am saying that. But that is not the issue that we’re talking about today.”

          The law, well settled for a long time, is that businesses operating in the public sphere and subject to public accommodations laws are required to serve one and all in the protected classes on an equal footing, religious scruples about doing so or not.

          If sexual orientation is to be treated differently than race, gender, religion or ethnicity, then the persons seeking a special exemption to public accommodations laws for discrimination against gays and lesbians must show a rational reason why the gays and lesbians are different enough to be treated differently under those laws.

          The cake-makers and picture-takers have been losing in court because they have been unable to articulate a legal rationale for treating gays and lesbians differently under public acommodation laws than other protected classes.

          It seems to me that AG, Stephen and the rest seeking a special legislative carve-out to public accommodations laws in the case of gays and lesbians have that burden, as well, lest we head down another slippery slope of lousy public policy.

          Why are we so different that good public policy demands that we be treated differently? What is do different about our marriages (as opposed to other straight marriages that are defined as sinful by orthodox Christian teaching) that good public policy demands that our marriages be treated differently?

          I have yet to hear those questions forthrightly addressed by the proponents of special carve-out laws.

          • posted by Lori Heine on

            This is really all about punishing LGBT people for being LGBT. It would create a sort of Jim Crow society, in which we existed on a lower tier.

            Were genuine freedom involved, no objection would be made to the idea of businesses that serve everybody without prejudice placing stickers in their windows or otherwise advertising that they serve all. After all, that, too, is an exercise of freedom — as well as fair practice in a free market economy.

            But in Arizona, when it was suggested that businesses choosing not to discriminate could advertise this, the proponents of discrimination screamed. And now we’re seeing what happens when they get their legislation. In Mississippi, they think that free expression, and freedom of the marketplace, applies only to them.

            The whole states-as-laboratory-of-democracy thing is actually a very good idea. Other states, where such anti-gay measures might be considered, can look at Mississippi and North Carolina and get a preview of what will happen if they go that route.

          • posted by Houndentenor on

            The flood of big businesses opening branches and even moving their headquarters to the south only happened after the end of Jim Crow laws (and the advent of air conditioning, let’s be honest…that was a huge factor). That could easily reverse if too many employees just don’t want to work in such an environment. Especially things like tech companies (many of which moved to the Austin area over the last decade or so). If there is a huge divide over the rights people have in one state over another, that will again become a factor in where businesses locate.

          • posted by Tom Jefferson III on

            I personally think that sort of exemption should exist, but I do not like how the “religious right” and much of the ‘gay Republicans’ seem to be framing the exemption.

            I can see something to the effect of that a small or self-employed baker only has to enter into contracts to bake cakes for people that he wants to bake cakes for…assuming that he is not the only game in town, is willing to live with the social criticism and is honest and upfront about his policy.

        • posted by craig123 on

          One of the things that I want AG, Stephen and the rest who keep harping on the need for certain christian sects to have a carve out from public accommodation laws to answer is: where does this carve out end?

          Wow, the “slippery slope” argument. When the religious right deploys it with equally inane logic against gay equality, progressives go ballistic. But then, no one can accuse progressives of logic — all that matters is the narrative and serving the party.

          AG, thanks for your valiant efforts, but it’s really hopeless. The comments were long ago taken over by left totalitarians who despise Stephen, despise this website, and spend all their time congratulating each other (Tom specializes in this). Let them have their hatefest and spare yourself their venom.

          • posted by Tom Jefferson III on

            Actually, some people here have already talked about about the exemptions and their definitions and limitations. Very few ‘straw man’ arguments here (other then the obligatory prayers to the Cult Of Ayn Rand).

          • posted by Jimmy on

            “Wow, the “slippery slope” argument. When the religious right deploys it with equally inane logic against gay equality, progressives go ballistic.”

            Just progressives, or all reasonable people? Reasonable people would say a special carve out for the purpose of discrimination against one specific group is unreasonable.

          • posted by JohnInCA on

            The problem with a slippery slope fallacy (“If A, then we’ll soon be to B and C!”) is the failure to tie B and C causally to A.

            The problem with claiming this is an applicaition of the slippery slope fallacy is that the right has asked for and demanded all of A, B and C.

            Or are you forgetting Arizona (which didn’t pass the broad exemptions) and Mississippi (which did pass the broad exemptions)? This isn’t prediction, it’s historical analysis.

  21. posted by JohnInCA on

    I’ll buy the logic behind a “religious exemption” when I’m granted the same right.

    That is to say… if they can refuse me service because of their religion, then I should be able to refuse them service because of their religion. Anything less is rank hypocrisy.

  22. posted by Tom Jefferson III on

    So….

    Baker A elects (under an exemption) not to make cakes for gay weddings.

    This prompts his supplier to refuse to sell him the supplies he needs to run his shop (using the same exemption).

    This in turn prompts someone who supplies the baker’s supplies to refuse to sell to the baker’s supplier……

    ;0)

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