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.
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.