“And while the Equality Act doesn’t alter the exceptions in the Civil Rights Act for religious organizations, it specifically notes that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 cannot be invoked as a defense for discriminating under these laws.”
In other words, courts can consider the “discrimination” of a LGBT activist being told “Sorry, I don’t want to decorate a cake with a same-sex couple because it’s against my religion but they’d be happy to bake you one next store,” but won’t be able to consider the religious freedom rights of the service provider with regard to the protections provided under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
RFRA requires that the authorities meet the high standard of showing that the government has a compelling interest to justify infringing on religious freedom when enforcing federal law. If stripping defendants of RFRA protections in these cases wasn’t a big deal—that is, if it were obvious that compelling service providers to craft messages in support of same-sex marriage or gender transitions clearly trumped any rights to religious protection—why would progressives be insisting on a RFRA exclusion?
More. In the comments to an earlier post, reader “Sebastian” wrote a response to the argument that conservative Christians have had a long record of working to deny LGBTQ people their legal rights, replying that:
Your identity is so bound up with being “the victim” that you’re unable to see that, in this situation, you’re now the oppressor. It reminds me of the communists who were persecuted and then took power and persecuted those who were of the class that had persecuted them. They couldn’t see that they were now the oppressor — they had no mental picture in which it was conceivable to them that good communists, who had been targeted and persecuted all of their adult lives, could now be the oppressor.
I think that’s spot on. When I hear the argument that we must force bakers to craft same-sex wedding cakes in order to “stop their hate”—as, for instance, a recent episode of Will & Grace reiterated the “need to struggle” against the “haters” who won’t bake same-sex cakes—it seems clear that LGBTQ activists (and those who go to court to force religious conservatives to craft supportive messages are by definition “activists”) have no mental template in which it’s possible to consider that they themselves have become the persecutors.