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Are conservative Christians harmed by compliance with nondiscrimination laws?   It's a more complex question than it appears at first blush.

I'm glad I don't have to adjudicate any of these cases.  Like people who want to ban books, conservative Christians who raise objections to non-discrimination laws as they apply to glbt persons are acting from a place of good intent, even if I disagree with their conclusions.  Book banners want to protect children from ideas they believe children aren't ready to deal with; conservative Christians who object to complying with nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religious freedom perceive themselves as the aggrieved party being asked to violate their conscience.

US law has long recognized the right of individuals to request exemptions from certain laws and practices based on questions of conscience and religious faith.  As I understand it, Quakers are not exempt military service, they are however exempt from participating as combatants.  A number of years ago, I helped a friend draft a statment requesting status as a conscientious objector and be granted exemption from combat duty (he was a veteran and member of the reserves at the time).  His statement was lengthy, thoughtful and carefully written; he was granted conscientious objector status and ultimately was not recalled to active duty.

US law has, also, long recognzied the right of individuals to be free from discrimination in the public square, which includes small businesses which are public accommodations.  Businesses are public accommodations, which means they are subject to generally applicable laws and those signs that many small businesses post that read "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" should have a huge asterisk that qualifies that statement.  You can't legally refuse to serve someone because of their race, gender, religion, national origin and so on.  Increasingly, that list includes real or perceived sexual orientation.  To put it in simple terms, business owners have to make business decisions for business reasons not from animus toward a group of persons.

As more US cities, counties and states adopt nondiscrimination laws covering sexual and gender minorities, and as more states legalize same-sex marriage, I believe there are going to be more cases like that of Elane Photography and Masterpiece Cakeshop, in which small business owners seek exemption from nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religious objections.

What happened in these cases is instructive.

In 2006, a same sex couple approached Elane Photography, a small business in New Mexico, requesting their services in photographing the couple's commitment ceremony.  The owner of Elane Photography, Elane Hugenin, refused, to photograph the ceremony, citing her religious beliefs against same sex marriage.  The couple filed a complaint with the state's civil rights commission and thus far all the rulings (including the New Mexico Supreme Court) have held that the photography studio is a public accommodation subject to the state's nondiscrimination ordinance protecting glbt persons from discrimination and that the photogrpher's religious freedom is not harmed by compliance with the law.

In 2012, a same sex couple contacted the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado to prepare a cake for their wedding celebration.  The owner of the bakery refused to do so since he has religious objections to same sex marriage.  The couple filed a complaint and an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found the bakery violated the law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; the ALJ also rejected the bakery owner's claim that his religious freedom was harmed by compliance with the non-discrimination law.

In both cases, the business owners asserted First Amendment objections - freedome of speech and freedom of religion.

Legal precedent in the US doesn't just permit freedom of speech, it also preclude compelled speech.  The government cannot require persons to speak in favor of something of which they disapprove or with which they disagree.  The details in the cases are different.  Certainly photographing a commitment ceremony is a different form of expression than baking a cake for one.  From the New Mexico Supreme Court:

The compelled-speech doctrine on which Elane Photography relies is comprised of two lines of cases. The first line of cases establishes the proposition that the government may not require an individual to “speak the government’s message.” Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic & Institutional Rights, Inc., 547 U.S. 47, 63 (2006). The second line of cases prohibits the government from requiring a private actor “to host or accommodate another speaker’s message.” Id. Elane Photography argues that by requiring it to photograph same sex weddings on the same basis as opposite-sex weddings, the NMHRA violates both prohibitions. We address each argument in turn.
With regard to compelled speech:
Elane Photography reads Wooley and Barnette to mean that the government may not compel people “to engage in unwanted expression.” However, the cases themselves are narrower than Elane Photography suggests; they involve situations in which the speakers were compelled to publicly “speak the government’s message.” Rumsfeld, 547 U.S. at 63. In Wooley and Barnette, the respective states impermissibly required their residents to affirm or display a specific government-selected message: “Live Free or Die” in Wooley, 430 U.S. at 707, and allegiance to the flag in Barnette, 319 U.S. at 632-33. Both cases stand for the proposition that the First Amendment does not permit the government to “prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” Barnette, 319 U.S. at 642. However, unlike the laws at issue in Wooley and Barnette, the NMHRA does not require Elane Photography to recite or display any message. It does not even require Elane Photography to take photographs. The NMHRA only mandates that if Elane Photography operates a business as a public accommodation, it cannot discriminate against potential clients based on their sexual orientation.
The second part of the argument:
Like the law in Rumsfeld, the NMHRA does not require any affirmation of belief by regulated public accommodations; instead, it requires businesses that offer services to the public at large to provide those services without regard for race, sex, sexual orientation, or other protected classifications. Section 28-1-7(F). The fact that these services may involve speech or other expressive services does not render the NMHRA unconstitutional. . . . Elane Photography is compelled to take photographs of same-sex weddings only to the extent that it would provide the same services to a heterosexual couple.
So far, so good.  Where it gets interesting concerns the actual subject matter of the photos.  Elane Photography's attorney's argued that the very nature of taking photos of a same sex wedding would inevitably express the message that same sex marriage is morally acceptable, a message the owner of Elane Photography does not wish to express.  The Court parsed the issue:
If Elane Photography took photographs on its own time and sold them at a gallery, or if it was hired by certain clients but did not offer its services to the general public, the law would not apply to Elane Photography’s choice of whom to photograph or not. The difference in the present case is that the photographs that are allegedly compelled by the NMHRA are photographs that Elane Photography produces for hire in the ordinary course of its business as a public accommodation. This determination has no relation to the artistic merit of photographs produced by Elane Photography. If Annie Leibovitz or Peter Lindbergh worked as public accommodations in New Mexico, they would be subject to the provisions of the NMHRA . . . Elane Photography sells its expressive services to the public. It may be that Elane Photography expresses its clients’ messages in its photographs, but only because it is hired to do so. The NMHRA requires that Elane Photography perform the same services for a same-sex couple as it would for an opposite-sex couple; the fact that these services require photography stems from the nature of Elane Photography’s chosen line of business.
The freedom of speech issue hinges on whether or not the company offers its services to the general public and is a public accommodation.  With regard to Masterpiec Bakery, the ALJ dismissed the argument that the bakery would be subject to compelled speech because the bakery never found out what type of cake they were being asked to make, they simply refused since it was for the celebration of a same sex marriage.  The ALJ went further, arguing that "even if Respondents could make a legitimate claim that [the antidiscrimiantion law] impacts their right to free speech, such impact is plainly incidental to the state's legitimate regulation of discrimintory conduct and thus is permissible."

The freedom of religion arguments were also rejected by both the New Mexico Supreme Court and the Colorado ALJ.

The New Mexico court decision said:

Under established law, “the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).”
The New Mexico Human Rights Act is generally applicable and even though it has religious exemptions, those exemptions are relatively narrow and do not apply to businesses.
Subsection (C) exempts religious organizations from provisions of the NMHRA governing sexual orientation and gender identity, but only regarding “employment or renting.” If a religious organization sold goods or services to the general public, neither subsection would allow the organization to turn away same-sex couples while catering to opposite-sex couples of all faiths. Subsection (B) permits religious organizations to serve only or primarily people of their own faith, as well as to discriminate in certain limited real estate transactions; Subsection (C) applies only to employment and, again, to real estate.
The Colorado ALJ distinguished between conduct and belief.  The anti-discrimination law doesn't require the bakery owner to believe anything, rather it regulates the conduct of his business.  As with the New Mexico case, the ALJ held that the bakery owner was subject to generally applicable laws and the exemptions in the law are relatively narrow - for churches and religious institutiones.

From the legal standpoint, then, these conservative Christians are not materially harmed by compliance with nondiscrimination laws because the laws don't negatively impact their freedom of speech nor their freedom of religion.

As more and more US cities, counties and states adopt nondiscrimination laws covering sexual and gender minorities, I believe there are going to be more cases like these even though, from a legal perspective, they seem cut and dried.  In essence, the rulings seem to say "You, as a person have religious freedom, the business you run does not."

The decisions in both these cases make for interesting and educational reading.  Judge Bosson on the New Mexico Supreme Court added a concurring opinion in which he acknowledged that compliance with the law represents something very difficult for Christian conservatives:

Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin see themselves in much the same position as the students in Barnette. As devout, practicing Christians, they believe, as a matter of faith, that certain commands of the Bible are not left open to secular interpretation; they are meant to be obeyed. Among those commands, according to the Huguenins, is an injunction against same-sex marriage. On the record before us, no one has questioned the Huguenin’s devoutness or their sincerity; their religious convictions deserve our respect. In the words of their legal counsel, the Huguenins “believed that creating photographs telling the story of that event [a same-sex wedding] would express a message contrary to their sincerely held beliefs, and that doing so would disobey God.” If honoring same-sex marriage would so conflict with their fundamental religious tenets, no less than the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Barnette, how then, they ask, can the State of New Mexico compel them to “disobey God” in this case? How indeed?
Judge Bosson relates the history of the Loving v Virginia case, which struck down laws prohibiting interrational marriage.
But of course, the Huguenins are not trying to prohibit anyone from marrying. They only want to be left alone to conduct their photography business in a manner consistent with their moral convictions. In their view, they seek only the freedom not to endorse someone else’s lifestyle.  Loving, therefore, does not completely answer the question the Huguenins pose. To complete the circle, we turn to our third case.

Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, upheld the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, a milestone enactment which, among other achievements, declared invidious discrimination unlawful, not just by the state but by private citizens, when providing goods and services in the sphere of public accommodations . . . antidiscrimination laws governing employment, housing, and public accommodations.”). The New Mexico Legislature has made it clear that to discriminate in business on the basis of sexual orientation is just as intolerable as discrimination directed toward race, color, national origin or religion. See NMSA 1978, § 28-1-7(F) (2004). The Huguenins today can no more turn away customers on the basis of sexual orientation—photographing a same-sex marriage ceremony—than they could refuse to photograph African-Americans or Muslims.

The judge concludes that the cumulative weight of those three cases compels the court to render the verdict it has rendered - that Elane Photography violated the law, is not exempt from the law and can be fined for discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
All of which, I assume, is little comfort to the Huguenins, who now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.
While recognizing that this outcome may be difficult for conservative Christians, the Judge also calls it necessary - not a compromise of belief but of conduct with regard to their business practices.

In a sense, then, that answer to the key question is that yes, conservative Christians may be harmed by compliance with non-discrimination laws, but that harm is less than the harm to both persons and society as a whole than the harm which results when persons are discriminated against.

Persons opposed to same-sex marriage can continue to believe it is immoral, they can speak against it.  They can refuse to believe that same-gender couples are the equivalent of heterosexual couples.  They can believe gay persons are immoral; that god wants gay persons to become straight.  But when they step into the public square, they may not be exempt from the same laws to which everyone else is subject.  The state has an interest in preventing discriminatory conduct, not discriminatory attitudes.

But, the business owners and their attorneys argue, we aren't discriminating because they're gay, we object to their conduct - i.e. getting married to a person of the same gender.

This argument is an inversion of the argument the courts made.  The courts argued that the state has an interest in regulating discriminatory conduct; the defendants are arguing they are making a distinction between conduct and identity and that they are choosing to not be part of the act of a same sex marriage.  They don't object to people being gay, they object to gay people getting married.  It's like the episode of Golden Girls in which Blanche says of her brother, "I don't mind Clayton being gay but does he have to date men?  There must be some gay people who date women?"  Dorothy replied, "They're called lesbians."  It's the equivalent of someone saying, "It's okay to be gay as long as you don't date, have sex, fall in love, or have a relationship."  The defendants argued, for example, that they wouldn't provide their product/services to anyone conducting a same sex commitment or wedding ceremony, regardless of those persons' sexual orientation.

The courts rejected this argument as a distinction without a difference.  The Colorado ALJ:

The salient feature distinguishing same-sex weddings from heterosexual ones is the sexual orientation of the participants. Only same-sex couples engage in same-sex weddings. Therefore, it makes little sense to argue that refusal to provide a cake to a same-sex couple for use at their wedding is not "because of" their sexual orientation . . . In this case, Respondents' objection to same-sex marraige is intextricably tied to the sexual orientation of the parties involved, and therefore disfavor of the parties' sexual orientation may be presumed . . . the ALJ concludes that discrimination against same-sex weddings is the equivalent of discrimination due to sexual orientation.
Refusing to treat a same sex wedding the same as a heterosexual wedding is a form discrimination against gay persons.  It's as simple as that.

And yet, I'm reluctant to simply declare the conversation over at this point. As Judge Bosson in New Mexico rightly observed:

. . . the Huguenins . . . now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.
I believe their views are bigoted.  I believe the application of their view of same-sex relationships is harmful.  Yet, they are being asked to make a very painful compromise - if they wish to run their business, they must provide a service in a setting they find morally objectionable, if not actually intolerable.  I'm not suggesting that the suffering these Christians are experiencing is anything comparable to the damage inflicted upon sexual minorities as a result of bigotry and discrimination, but I don't want to dismiss the real pain conservative Christians experience as a result of being on the wrong side of non-discrimination laws.  The discomfort these business owners experience is far less than the the degradation experienced by gay persons when they are treated as less than fully human.  Their discomfort is real.

In the end, society has to choose between the harm suffered by the targets of discrimination and the harm experienced by those being denied the right to discriminate.  The deeply held religious values of these two business owners is not in question, nor are they being asked to stop believing what they believe.  Instead, they are being asked to separate their personal values from their business conduct, which for small business owners is no small task.

Originally posted to glendenb on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 07:43 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yes, they are greatly harmed, because hate is (11+ / 0-)

    a very powerful emotion and repressed hate eats at the psyche  and the gut.

    However, they, like censors, are not well intentioned. hey are motivaed by hate for "the other". Whatever narrow minded, sick, twisted beleifs they have, their desire to enforce them globally against all comers is a manifestation of hate for that which does not conform to their petty twisted viewpoints.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 07:57:00 PM PST

  •  I feel pain... (14+ / 0-)

    ...when cesalessly being proselytized by so-called Christians. The law guarantees them free speech, but not that people listen to them, and they may practice their religion, but they are not guaranteed converts, or that they have sway over the lives of those who are not members of their church.

    But yes, they will tell you that they are being harmed, as they cannot dictate how anyone else lives their lives.

    May they lose much business over their bigotry.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 07:58:19 PM PST

  •  Their Religion Is Evangelism Not Personal Reflect- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, writeofwinter

    ion so when you limit them from evangelizing you're infringing their religious freedom.

    This may all be moot because SCOTUS has at least one case in hand to establish religious freedom for corporations, if I understand correctly.

    I emphasize that the wording of the amendment is not "THE PEOPLE'S free exercise" of religion as gun rights are "the right OF THE PEOPLE to keep and bear arms." It's just the bare "exercise of religion." It's not restricted to any exerciser, no actor is specified. Same as with freedom of speech; no speaker is specified.

    It's not necessary to equate corporations with people to find, especially for this Court to find, that a corporation is capable of exercising religion and cannot be prohibited from freely exercising it because it's the exercise itself that can't be prohibited, not particular exercise-ers.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 08:09:37 PM PST

    •  At some point in our history we have to recognize (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radarlady, a2nite, Tonedevil

      that corporations are nothing more than legal entities designed to protect assets.  They are not persons, their objective is to protect "persons" and assets from legal responsible for their decisions.  If a corporation is a person than owning stock in a corporation that goes bankrupt should make you personally liable but it doesn't.  

      •  lakehillsliberals - limited liability structures (0+ / 0-)

        are necessary to have anything more than a mom and pop business. Without them we would have no airlines, or car makers, just to name a few. Every developed country in the world has limited liability structures available for its companies to use so that they can attract capital and scale.

        The SCOTUS has never ruled that corporations are people although that myth is popular here. What the Court has ruled is that corporations have SOME of the same rights as "human persons".

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 09:28:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  And businesses are not churches (0+ / 0-)

        A church can preach hate, covered by First Amendment.

        A business by definition is governed by secular law and open to the public.

        My Jewish lesbian tax dollars pay for their police and fire protection, roads and public transit their employees and customers use to get to work, the schools that taught their employees basic skills, sanitation, public health inspection (for bakery), street cleaning and dozens of other services.

        This is just as illegal as refusing photographs of a Jewish wedding because they believe all Jews are headed straight for hell for "killing Christ".

        No, they can't refuse services. If it's that important to them, set up as an adjunct to their church providing services only to their church.

  •  Yes, it is painful (5+ / 0-)

    for bigots not to be able to act on their bigotry. It is also painful for them to actually admit that they actually ARE bigots, and that it has little if anything to do with "sincere religious views." Perhaps they should question some of those "sincere religious views." That would probably be a better use of their time and money.

  •  Thank you glendenb for a really excellent (7+ / 0-)

    treatment of these cases. This is a very difficult issue and it will be interesting to follow as this issue is further litigated, with these cases or their cousins.

    I don't know why anyone would want to hire a photographer who didn't want to be at the wedding. Many wedding photographers are no more than bad picture takers and I fear that is the type of job one would receive if the photographer didn't want to be there. Real photographers, who are emotionally invested in the wedding, are able to capture the real joy of the event.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 08:20:23 PM PST

  •  from a practical perspective (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tuesdayschilde, merrywidow

    I'd rather know that the person has that position since a photographer who opposed gay marriage would quite possibly not do as good a job as one who does not oppose it. At that point, what is gained in forcing them to do work I suspect would be substandard due to their disposition?

    And then let others vote with their dollars as to whether they will support that business. If a restaurant didn't allow blacks or jews or whatever, I wish it was on a sign out front so that I could go elsewhere.

    •  Thanks for weighing in, Rand Paul (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      That's just more "free market correcting itself" fantasy. So a lunch counter should be able to be "whites only", because they will "lose money"? Has it ever occurred to you while reading Atlas Shrugged that there are plenty of people who would patronize such establishments, even IF you're not one of them? We are a society of laws and we don't get to choose which ones we comply with, no matter what ridiculous superstition you claim to adhere to.

      "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

      by MargaretPOA on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 04:02:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  somehow a public business like a store or (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        restaurant is different than a photographer and I want the right not to cook for Republicans as a caterer but if I had a restaurant I would have to let them in'

        easy difference to deal with

        "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

        by merrywidow on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 05:41:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe we should Solomon this decision and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        if a business wants to operate on "their personal convictions", they should pay the full freight for them and receive "absolutely" no tax deductions for operating that business.    Let's see how long it takes for their true god to become evident.  If we allow businesses to operate outside the law and then subsidize them with our tax dollars(which is what we do) then we are party to their religious beliefs and discrimination.  

        •  Spot on (0+ / 0-)

          There are consequences to being a "conscientious objector" but these people want to discriminate without any consequences. If they want to put hate into their business, then they should get any of the tax and social benefits for running one.

          "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

          by MargaretPOA on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 02:32:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  They would likely do a crappy job (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But that does not exclude them from following the law. If I was refused business due to my orientation I would file a complaint, and hire someone else. If we allow this to continue we are only giving a stamp of approval to allowing one's religious or other views to break the law.

      Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

      by kimoconnor on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 05:53:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The public square... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Has no place for those who would seek to deny other's access to it for "what" they are.

    So that just leaves two questions with what to us seem obvious answers, but to which conservative have the opposite answer:

    1). Is being among the listings of LGBT a 'what' someone is, or a belief they have about themselves?

    2). Is being a Conservative Evangelical a 'what' someone is, or a belief they have about themselves?

    Settled questions? Hardly.

    Liberals and most mainstream people would say that LGBT is a 'what' and conservative evangelical is a 'belief'. We would say you can objectively test this: People cannot 'convert out or into' being LGBT, but they can convert out or into 'conservative evangelical'.

    But the right-wing would say the opposite.

    They've got a whole "school of thought" dedicated to "curing" LGBT, but they believe 'conservative evangelical is a core 'what' that cannot change as God has put it there among the chosen.

    (Nevermind that the world is loaded with former conservative evangelicals, including one of their national leaders that now organizes a liberal-inclusive evangelical movement. Conservatives counter claim the world is full of people who have been cured of LGBT.)


    If its a 'belief' and not a what, is it ok for a counter opposing belief to discriminate in the public square?
    - Sometimes yes, sometimes no...

    But when its a 'what', its very rare for it to be ok to discriminate (sex-based being a rare example in the law, and that only in limited spheres, that in society are rapidly becoming not ok).

    We'll be fighting this battle for as long as conservatives manage to keep holding the notion that LGBT is a belief, and not a what.

    OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

    by Jyotai on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 08:47:03 PM PST

    •  That's ridiculous. (0+ / 0-)

      It is empirical that being gay is innate (just as being black is innate). It's science. There is no question whether conservatives want to disregard empirical data or not.

    •  In CLS v Martinez, (0+ / 0-)

      Justice Ginsberg writes for the majority with regard to sexual orientation, "Our decisions have declined to distinguish between status and conduct in this context."

    •  Don't be absurd (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The idea that being gay is innate and congenital is settled science and therefore comparing it to being conservative is like comparing The Joker to John Dillinger. One is a product of fiction while the other was very real. What the right wing argues or doesn't argue is irrelevant to any subject when not based on reality and/or any expertise. Should I listen to Steve Stockman telling me that global climate change is a "hoax"? Should I grant him the authority to act on that "belief"? Of course not! It's absurd and he has no expertise or training. He has nothing but an agenda, just like people who discriminate. And it is never okay to discriminate in public places. We are a society with rules and when one of those rules is that every customer must be treated like every other customer, then one is not free to ignore it. I don't think weed should be illegal but if I claimed that as a defense, I would be laughed out of court and into jail. We are not free to ignore those laws with which we disagree. If their absurd superstition doesn't allow them to comply with the law, maybe they need a different line of work or less superstition.

      "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

      by MargaretPOA on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 03:41:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  /woosh (0+ / 0-)


        As in, you completely missed my point.

        OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

        by Jyotai on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 01:08:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I got your point (0+ / 0-)

          What I object to is your claim that sexual orientation is "hardly" a "settled question". Did you say that or was that somebody else hijacking your comment? It's settled unless you lend credibility to those with no expertise or people with an ax to grind. So when you say "woosh" to me, it has to be with a heavy dose of irony.

          "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

          by MargaretPOA on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 02:36:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Future debate topics (7+ / 0-)

    Are christians harmed by the abolition of slavery?

    Are christians harmed by laws that allow collecting interest on loans? -- well yes probably, but I mean to ask, as a matter of religious conscience

    Are christians harmed by interracial marriage?

    And why can't these folks just refuse to bake a cake or take photos for that nice Hindu couple?  Or Unitarians, secular folks?

    Are christians harmed by working women?

    Compassion is so hard.  Critical thinking is so painful. It's much more satisfying to apply random quotations from 2000 year old texts without understanding who wrote them or why.

  •  Can a pacifist restaurant owner refuse to serve (3+ / 0-)

    members of the military?

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

    by illinifan17 on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 09:15:09 PM PST

    •  No,but they should be able to refuse to photograph (0+ / 0-)

      some event if it bothers the provider

      "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

      by merrywidow on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 05:42:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Can Any Restaurant Owner... (0+ / 0-)

      ...refuse to serve a convicted murderer?  How about a person he believes raped his daughter?  Petty thief?  Swinger?

      In short, what freedom do business owners have to refuse to do business with people they believe engage in objectionable behavior?  And what if that objectionable behavior is personally painful to the business owner?

      On one side of the line, people in mixed-race or same-sex relationships.  On the other side of the line....?

      •  It is not against the law to turn away (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the guy who raped your daughter from your restaurant.

        It is against the law to turn away a guy who just happens to be gay or black or Jewish etc.

        This is not rocket science folks.

        Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

        by kimoconnor on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 06:21:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here's the deal: If these people offer services (5+ / 0-)

    to a gay person--I'll bake you a birthday cake, or I'll take your picture, but they refuse to do it for said gay person's wedding, well then you get into protected class and clear discrimination.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 09:53:22 PM PST

  •  Bigotry gets no better.... (8+ / 0-) adding a god to it.  

    If Christian fundamentalists are unable to comply with anti-discrimination laws, they are unfit to operate a public business.  Let Jesus take care of them, but the law owes them no special privileges or rights to victimize others with their prejudices and superstitions.  

  •  The entire premise of harm is laughable. (7+ / 0-)

    Religion is rife with hypocrisy and contradiction and the rest of society shouldn't be subjected to the whims of those practicing whatever form of whatever religion they choose. If they don't want to run their business in a lawful manner then they should find a new line of work. Society isn't required to accommodate the "certain commands of the bible" that these hypocrites specifically select to justify their hate and bigotry.

    I highly doubt their sincerity because a true believer would sacrifice cake making or photography if their faith is as important as these people claim. If they ask god for forgiveness because they slept with their neighbor's wife or beat their children then surely they can ask god's forgiveness for the mortal sin of baking a cake for a gay couple.

    They're constantly trying to use religion as an excuse to discriminate; it's necessary to stay vigilant and stop them at every turn.

  •  So much for the "Free Market" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MargaretPOA, Oh Mary Oh, jayden

    if these religious types have their way. Free market principles are supposed to be free of religion. Period. How many times have we read, in these days dominated by GOP-speak, of fundamentalist business owners selling off their employees pension funds, polluting their merchandise, overcharging customers, overworking employees, or, buying up another company and laying off most of that company's workers immediately (a certain highly religious presidential candidate comes to mind here...)? When we on the left protest that these are not how people should treat their fellow citizens, we are told, "The marketplace is amoral; gold rules." Well, they can't have it both ways, choosing which "Xtian principles" they as business owners will enforce, while ignoring all the rest.

    We know this is just about beating up on LGBT persons because they don't agree with same-sex marriage, or with LGBT rights. Let the Free Market rule, and let them lose business. They can go bankrupt for all I care. Then let their religion pay their bills.


  •  Bullshit (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman, jayden, librarisingnsf
    Like people who want to ban books, conservative Christians who raise objections to non-discrimination laws as they apply to glbt persons are acting from a place of good intent, even if I disagree with their conclusions.
    You have exactly nothing upon which to base the claim that the religious bigots are "acting from a place of good intent". It's like the presumption that always seems to be made that the Republicans in Congress are operating from integrity or a principled stand, rather than being a bunch of nihilistic four year olds in adult bodies. This is one long post and it's point seems to be to excuse irrational hatred when it's claimed to be based on irrational superstition. I've got news for you: these people know they are hating, they are fully cognizant that they are being bigoted assholes. It has nothing to do with their superstition and everything to do with their fear of the unknown "other". Nobody is harmed by being forced to treat other people like human beings.  You're not the only one who is glad that you're not adjudicating these cases.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 03:26:44 AM PST

  •  Nope. They just think they are. (4+ / 0-)

    Being heinously entitled pricks, you'd think complying with these laws was actually harming them somehow.

    Mean-spirited morons.

    Why can't they just shut the fuck u7p about it?

    Because they believe they are the most righteous people on the planet.

  •  Another case is the ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, jayden

    ....pharmacists who refuse to fill morning after pill prescriptions. Clearly this is discrimination and there can be no business case made for refusing this service to a patron?

    Am I on the right track?

  •  Something needs to be understood here. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, a2nite
    In the end, society has to choose between the harm suffered by the targets of discrimination and the harm experienced by those being denied the right to discriminate.  
    Under the First Amendment, Americans believe whatever they like and call it freedom of religion.  The amendment's "free exercise" clause doesn't protect practices.  If it did, anyone would be able to say that their religion demands human sacrifice . . . of Christians.  Or, a concrete example from American history, Mormons would be able to practice polygamy. A SCOTUS ruling decided that "free exercise" has limits.  Freedom of religion endures because the prohibited practices are only those that violate federal, state, and local statutes or laws.

    That's what lurks under the surface of this diary. It's not really about "the right to discriminate." It's an argument advanced by religious extremists trying to prove that religion has precedence over the law (and government.)

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 05:35:31 AM PST

  •  I think private small business should be free (0+ / 0-)

    NOT to bake a cake for people they cannot deal with, there are other cake bakers

    I would not want to cater a party for a GOP fundraiser, i would say no and I want that right

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 05:39:39 AM PST

  •  The conversation needs to be over (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, a2nite, jayden

    I am not a big fan of automatically assuming in a slippery slope argument, but in this case I can really see it happening if we allow people to discriminate against LGBT people. It would expand and possibly destroy all non-discrimination laws.

    We all make choices in what we do for a living, no one makes anyone open a business to take photos or bake cakes. If someone really wants to have the ability to only work for some people, those who share their views, they lose, they must lose this fight.

    There is NO benefit to our society to allow discrimination based on any reason, including religious views.

    Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

    by kimoconnor on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 05:49:43 AM PST

  •  It's definitely a hard situation to be in ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, jayden

    ... but if your job requires you by law to do things that go against your religion, then the only thing you can do is quit your job.  If the law of the land requires your business to do things that go against your religion, the only thing you can do is sell or close your business.

    Or else talk to your religious leader and find out if there's any possible way you can work out a compromise that allows you to stay in business / keep your job.  If there isn't, then that's not a business you should be running or a job you should be holding.

    Or else compromise your religious beliefs for the sake of your livelihood.  You wouldn't be the first to do that, nor the last.

  •  It's not Hard to Figure Out (0+ / 0-)

    To take a random (and pretty straightforward) example:

    Under [Nebraska] state law, it is illegal to deny a person access, or to treat them unequally, in a public accommodation because of their:
    •marital status
    •national origin
    •sexual orientation*
    •gender identity*

    * If a place of public accommodation owned by or operated on behalf of a religious organization is made available for use only to members of the same faith as that of the administering body, the provisions concerning discriminatory practices that relate to sexual orientation and gender identity shall not apply.  

    Public accommodations are facilities whose goods/services/premises are sold or made available to the public. Examples are:
    •restaurants, snack bars, and soda fountains
    •hotels, motels, and inns
    •retail stores and shopping centers
    •bars and nightclubs
    •museums, theaters, concert halls, and stadiums
    •parks and campsites
    •bus stations, taxi stands, and airport terminals
    •barbershops and beauty parlors
    •swimming pools, gyms, and health clubs
    •hospitals, clinics, and convalescent homes
    •professional offices of health care providers
    •mortuaries and undertaking establishments

    --City of Omaha website

    Religious arguments were and continue to be used to support many forms of discrimination. That doesn't mean they have any special validity. But now that "corporations are people" and may have protected political views, the Supreme Court (because of their own perfidy) is going to have difficulty with the question "if corporations are 'people,' why can't they have protected religious views?"

    "A famous person once said, 'You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.' But as I once said, "If you don't teach them to read, you can fool them whenever you like." – Max Headroom

    by midnight lurker on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 09:48:02 AM PST

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