Staver: Christians Silenced by Non-Existent Laws

Liberty Counsel is boldly standing up for the right of government officials to pick and choose which citizens they will and won’t serve and which laws will apply to which people, offering to defend any government official who refuses to do their jobs when gay people walk in their offices. And Matt Staver seems rather confused:

Liberty Counsel has filed suit on behalf of magistrates in North Carolina who are being pressured to officiate same-sex “weddings” or face suspension, termination, fines, or prosecution. Our clients have been forced to choose between “deprivation of constitutional rights and continued employment or freedom,” Liberty Counsel told the court in the lawsuit.

“This case reveals the conflicts erupting across the United States as intolerant activists impose their will on the majority of Americans who refuse to participate in same-sex unions,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The same-sex marriage agenda threatens religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Although it is full of rhetoric about tolerance and equal rights, the agenda is anything but tolerant,” Staver added. “Christians and people of faith and values have been silenced through ‘hate speech’ laws. Now, magistrates, pastors, bakers, photographers, business owners, event planners, and others are being forced against their will to celebrate and assist in something against their deeply held religious beliefs.”

No, Christians have not been “silenced through ‘hate speech’ laws for one simple reason: There are no hate speech laws in this country. They do not exist. The phrase “hate speech” is legally meaningless, there is no statute anywhere in this country that provides a hate speech exception to the First Amendment, nor is there any court ruling that has established such an exception. It simply does not exist.

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  • anubisprime

    Sssshhh! Ed…you will spoil Matt’s performance…and ruin his credibility…oh wait!

  • John Pieret

    I started to read his complaint but have yet to finish it. The argument starts out as “magistrates are being forced against their consciences to conduct same-sex marriages,” which may have a shadow of a case, depending on the specifics of NC law. If magistrates are not, in fact, required to perform marriages, they might have the right to refuse to do it. But then, without explanation, the argument morphs into “magistrates are being forced against their consciences to conduct same-sex marriages and/or issue licenses to same-sex couples.” This action is in state, not Federal, court. But almost any judge I know would not like this slight of hand.

    people of faith and values have been silenced through ‘hate speech’ laws. Now, magistrates, pastors, bakers, photographers, business owners, event planners, and others are being forced against their will to celebrate and assist in something against their deeply held religious beliefs.

    Yeah, just like poor Lester Maddox was forced to celebrate and assist whites and blacks eating together in his luncheonette against his deeply held religious beliefs.

  • scienceavenger

    “This case reveals the conflicts erupting across the United States as intolerant activists impose their will on the majority of Americans…”

    ***Irony meters explode worldwide***

    “Christians and people of faith and values have been silenced through ‘hate speech’ laws. “

    Screams the Christian. Is “silenced” another word they’ve redefined? Maybe its time they published a Christianary so we who speak normal English can figure out WTF they are saying.

  • David C Brayton

    Well, there are laws that make crime motivated by racial or religious animosity worthy of increased punishment. If someone were to murder a black person and yell the N-word during the commission of the crime, it’s gonna be prosecuted as a hate crime.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    @John Pieret #2 – When Washington State allowed same-sex marriage in 2012, the state’s Bar Association put every judge on notice: As per state law, you are not required to officiate at weddings, but as per state law, if you do officiate at weddings, you are not allowed to discriminate based on the gender of the couple. This directive was sufficiently clear that, to my knowledge, only one judge has been censured for violating it.

    Unfortunately, Alabama law does not protect LGBT people from discrimination, so judges can legally discriminate even without explicit legal permission to do so.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    @David #4 – Speech can be used to show that a criminal action was intended as a terrorist act against a specific group, yes. But the speech by itself is protected: simply yelling the N-word is not a prosecutable act.

  • Sastra

    “Christians and people of faith and values have been silenced through ‘hate speech’ laws.

    When push comes to shove they apparently don’t make a distinction between an actual law enforced by the state and cultural ‘rules’ of what is and isn’t permissible in polite discourse. As far as these folks are concerned they’re the same thing — possibly because they see themselves as the majority and want to use law to impose their own ‘cultural rules’ on people who are not in their particular culture.

    It used to be that they could say they were against gay marriage because they believe God’s word in the Bible and they’d get no pushback. The worst that would happen is perhaps their audience would say something like “well, that’s not what I believe but I really respect your commitment to your faith.” And they would preen, safe and comfortable in the idea that they are universally acknowledged to be doing the Right Thing in obeying God.

    That’s gone. They spout off the same thing about ‘marriage being between one man and one woman as mandated by God” and now by God they’re as likely to get an argument, a shake of the head, or a raised eyebrow and hasty change of subject as not. Say it in general public and they can assume that other people don’t just disapprove of what they said — they’re not even getting any brownie points for being pious. Nobody cares that you’re following your faith! What you said was still perceived as “hateful” and the social law is that you should shut up about those kinds of things.

    Hell hath no fury like the ‘dutiful Christian’ scorned.

  • theguy

    Government officials shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate when handing out marriage licenses. If I, a non-believer, became a notary public and refused marriage licenses to Christians, these people wouldn’t defend me – they’d call for my arrest faster than a molasses road runner on Venus.*

    *metaphor made up on the spot so excuse me if it sounds weird.

  • David C Brayton

    @Gregory in Seattle #6. I’m not sure there is much of a distinction. The perpetrator is still being punished for what he thinks about whatever class his victim is a member of. If he had kept his mouth shut, he would have been punished less. And in hate crimes prosecutions it doesn’t matter whether the victim was actually a member of that protected class. It only matters what the perpetrator thought about the victim.

    If that isn’t punishing someone for their beliefs, I don’t know what is.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    The essence of contemporary conservatism is to defend the privileges of empowered majorities — and whatever bigotries they wish to inflict on the people they consider lesser — not through the usual vehicles of racism, sexism, or even elitism, but through the politics of grievance and victimhood. Hence, they completely invert the actual power dynamics of various demographic groups and pretend that the powerful ones are those that suffer at the hands of the traditionally oppressed. White people are the victims of racism from blacks, even (especially) when the former shoots the latter. Women victimize men by whining about rape. Christians, who make up 80% of the population and well over 90% of elected officials, are being oppressed by a small minority of gays, who are exactly like the Nazis.

    Maintaining such delusions requires a massive and almost comical (if it weren’t so irritating) disconnect from reality. Hence, pretending to be victimized by laws that don’t actually exist.

  • hoku

    @ David Brayton

    It’s not punishing them for their beliefs, it’s punishing them for the actions they undertake in the name of those beliefs. And the reason is because it the action is meant to terrorize the larger population being victimized and not just the immediate victim.

  • busterggi

    Next they’ll be required to marry Christians to consenting Jews, Mormons & Catholics – where will it end?

  • dugglebogey

    I think it’s a much more widely held belief in this country than any religious belief, that if you refuse to do your fuckin’ job, you should be fuckin’ fired.

  • D. C. Sessions

    All they’re asking for is to have the same exemption that Catholic judges from having to preside over divorces and such, except that in this case it’s marriages. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    All they’re asking for is to have the same exemption that Catholic judges from having to preside over divorces and such, except that in this case it’s marriages. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

    I’ve never heard of anything like that, and the google machine doesn’t seem to have either. Where is it that Catholic judges can refuse hearing divorce cases?

    As for what’s wrong with a religious exemption, if gay couples cannot get married because no magistrate is willing to do it, then yeah, that’s too much to ask. If there were a way to ensure that enough non-bigoted magistrates were around, then it wouldn’t be a big deal. But the only way to ensure that gay people’s rights aren’t violated is to make it mandatory for all magistrates to perform the marriages. I’m not sure why having “deeply held religious beliefs” is supposed to give people privileges that no one else has, but the fact remains that having to perform a marriage does not cause anyone any actual harm. Not being allowed to marry does.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    I’ve never heard of anything like that, and the google machine doesn’t seem to have either. Where is it that Catholic judges can refuse hearing divorce cases?

    Nowhere, which I think was DC’s point.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    Okay, sorry if that was meant to be sarcasm.

  • Lady Mondegreen

    Now, magistrates, pastors, bakers, photographers, business owners, event planners, and others are being forced against their will to celebrate and assist in something against their deeply held religious beliefs.”

    The evil gheys are forcing Christians to celebrate, now!? My oh my. That does seem a tad intrusive.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Once again, Poe’s Law passes and empirical test.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @David C Brayton in 4

    Damn, he beat me to it and corrected himself.

    I want to add: A so-called actual hate speech law, vs laws which require further punishment when a crime is associated with hate speech – the difference isn’t that big. I am seriously concerned about the free speech implications.

    @hoku

    It’s not punishing them for their beliefs, it’s punishing them for the actions they undertake in the name of those beliefs. And the reason is because it the action is meant to terrorize the larger population being victimized and not just the immediate victim.

    Your “to terrorize” argument is bullshit. It’s a post-hoc rationalization to support the bullshit law. 1- The law is not narrowly tailored to stop this terrorizing. It captures plenty of so-called hate crimes which have little to do with creating terror. 2- It’s also underspecific because it doesn’t even attempt to capture plenty of other kinds of crimes which do create terror. Thus- Under any sort of judicial review, the current law lacks a compelling government purpose, and it punishes speech, and thus it is unconstitutional under the first amendment (and fourteenth).