Out actress Ellen Page has garnered much publicity for her impromptu debate over gay rights with GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz at the Iowa State Fair. But what did she choose to go on the offensive about? No, not Cruz’s support for a constitutional amendment to roll back gay marriage, but his defense of religious freedom for conservative Christian bakers, florists and other service providers.
I’m continually shocked at how tone deaf activists-minded gays and lesbians of the leftish persuasion are on this issue, cavalierly dismissing religious freedom as nothing put an attempt to allow discrimination against gays, period, end of story. If only we can get rid of religious freedom, well, then we’d be set. Progressive government would tell everyone what to do and, you know, that would be keen.
But a majority of Americans don’t believe small, independent business owners should be forced to provide services to same-sex weddings against their religious beliefs (that is, self-employed private business people, not government civil servants. And there is, or once was, a difference here). Many of those supporting religious freedom for those who have religious objections to same-sex weddings are themselves ok with same-sex marriage. They’re not bigots. The intolerance is on the other side.
More. John Corvino writes in the New York Times Gay Rights and the Race Analogy:
When civil rights laws were passed, discrimination against blacks was pervasive, state-sponsored and socially intractable. Pervasive, meaning that there weren’t scores of other photographers clamoring for their business. State-sponsored, meaning that segregation was not merely permitted but in fact legally enforced, even in basic public accommodations and services. Socially intractable, meaning that without higher-level legal intervention, the situation was unlikely to improve. To treat the lesbian couple’s situation as identical — and thus as obviously deserving of the same legal remedy — is to minimize our racist past and exaggerate L.G.B.T.-rights opponents’ current strength.
John comes down somewhere between my view that no one self-employed in the private sector should be forced to provide services that violate their religious beliefs and the activists who believe they should. He writes:
Currently, the jurisdictions most likely to prohibit sexual-orientation discrimination are those where such laws seem least needed; cities where rainbow banners far outnumber Confederate flags. But what about places where being openly gay is literally unsafe? There it’s much harder to rely on market forces and social pressure for ensuring equality.
How pervasive or intractable does discrimination need to be before we should invoke the long arm of the law to solve it? I don’t have a simple formula for answering that question. I’m wary of those who do.