Sue them: First Amendment news ghost?

450px-gay_is_the_new_black

We normally focus on covering news in our posts, rather than commentary about news. After all, everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

But occasionally, as Tmatt pointed out, a commentary surfaces that makes you ask — how come we haven’t see more about that subject in news coverage?

Such is the case with a recent column by Boston Globe writer Jeff Jacoby.

In a short but intriguing opinion piece, Jacoby looks back at some recent lawsuits where the allegation was anti-gay discrimination and asks: why weren’t the First Amendment religious freedom rights of those accused a bigger story?

Same-sex marriage made plenty of news in 2008, from court decisions legalizing it to the adoption of amendments banning it to the ongoing battle over Proposition 8 in the one state — California — where both occurred.

But one front in the marriage wars rarely gets the coverage it deserves: the drive by gay activists to punish religious believers whose faith forbids homosexual relationships.

OK, this is a provocative sentence propelled by a few choice words (drive, punish, faith, forbids). That’s another reason it’s usually good to avoid critiquing commentary.

But in this case there is evidence (see this commentary by Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times) that after Proposition 8 passed prominent community members who gave it financial support were targeted (you could use the word punished) by protesters.

Some of these stories were covered in the mainstream press — some were not.

Let’s take a look at one of the cases cited by Jacoby.

In April, photographers Jon and Elaine Huguenin were fined $6,637 by the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission for declining to shoot a lesbian commitment ceremony. The Huguenins didn’t want to take a job that would have required them to disregard their Christian values. But the commission ruled that in turning down the work, they had illegally discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.

This story was covered by the Associated Press, ( and theWashington Times) got considerable play in conservative circles , including the attention of the Alliance Defense Fund.

The Marcia Walden case cited by Jacoby was covered in detail by the Washington Times and in the blogosphere. As far as I can tell, it didn’t get a lot of mainstream attention, like the suit against Neil Clark Warren and eHarmony (which settled a suit against it by agreeing to start a matchmaking service for gays and lesbians.)

Jacoby concludes his commentary by arguing:

For many gay marriage supporters, it is not enough that same-sex relationships be normalized: Any private reluctance to embrace that normalization must also be penalized. Freedom of religion is the first of our liberties, the guarantee that opens the First Amendment. But religious liberty is under assault by gay activists, and the First Amendment is getting battered. It ought to be a bigger story.

Rhetoric aside (yeah, yeah, yeah) — does the man have a point?

As usual, it depends to some extent on your point of view.

But when it comes to covering these lawsuits by the mainstream press as a First Amendment story, I’d have to agree with Mr. Jacoby. And I’m sure that 2009 will give journalists plenty of opportunities to write that story.

Protester picture is taken from Wikimedia Commons

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  • John K.

    First, religious beliefs do not entitle someone running a business to discriminate against others. They tried this with race pre-civil rights era, and now they’re doing the same thing with sexual orientation. You can’t refuse to take pictures at a Black wedding based on your religious beliefs and you can’t refuse to take pictures at a gay wedding based on your religious beliefs.

    Second, as far as the protesters “punishing” Prop. 8 supporters, protesters are not the government. They are not running a business that is regulated by the government. They are in their personal capacity with complete free speech and association rights. That means they have every right to decline to patronize whatever business they want for whatever reason they want, including the fact that owners or prominent employees of those businesses supported Prop. 8. This isn’t punishing them for their beliefs; it’s punishing them for their harmful actions based on those beliefs (but even if it was based on their beliefs themselves, it would be completely legal because, again, they are completely in their private capacity and not running a business).

  • FW Ken

    Of course, sexual orientation is not in the same category as race, but there is a point to make that Jacoby’s concerns do not embrace “any private reluctance”, but a legitimate question about public accomodation.

    There is a great deal to say, however, when the gay lobby drives a licensed counselor out of her job because she takes the entirely ethical step of referring a client to a colleague when she can’t provide appropriate services. This is a common practice with professionals, and lose of her job is only one step from challenging the licensure of professionals who don’t submit to the demands of this particular lobby. This is very similar to the current efforts of the abortion lobby to force every dissenting medical practitioner into committing abortions and to force pharmacists to fill abortion-inducing prescriptions. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently ran an op-ed in which a gay activist suggested that Saddleback Church should lose it’s tax emempt status for standing against same-sex marriage.

    Are public services like eHarmony in the same category as licensure to practice various professions? Why, then, aren’t churches?

  • Brian L

    …you can’t refuse to take pictures at a gay wedding based on your religious beliefs.

    Why not?

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Per John K.’s comments, I recently interviewed someone for a story I was writing on the response to the Prop. 8 vote. My source made an interesting comparison between the Hollywood treatment of the blacklist during the McCarthy era and the new blacklist that’s being supported by opponents of Prop. 8.

    He said something along the lines of, “We’re supposed to believe that one of the worst eras in American history was when wealthy film professionals couldn’t make movies but that now it’s totally okay to push waitresses out of jobs for small political contributions.”

    It is interesting why one is okay and one is not okay in the minds of certain folks. And I think you sense that in the media treatment of how serious it is that people are being threatened with their livelihoods, etc., for their political opinions. On the other hand, I’m rather consistently anti-blacklist . . . so maybe I’m not seeing some important nuance here.

  • Jerry

    What is the difference between a blacklist and a boycott? As far as I can see, evil people blacklist and good people boycott. In other words, both deny someone the right to something but it’s ok if it’s done by good people fighting for justice. I actually have some sympathy for that point-of-view but the tactic can easily be misused even when it seems justified. If the people employing such methods are motivated by anger and thirst for revenge, then the natural result is reciprocal anger and a greater tendency to fight back.

  • Brian L

    My perception of the difference between a blacklist and a boycott is scope and scale. A boycott is against an organization/corporation/business position. A blacklist is primarily against individuals.

    A boycott is “voting with your feet” – a very American concept. A blacklist – we purposefully will harm these individuals for their opinions – seems very un-American.

  • str1977

    “First, religious beliefs do not entitle someone running a business to discriminate against others.”

    I thought anyone could do business with anyone or not.

    I understand that there are laws against discrimination in regard to employment, housing, monopolies but how can a simple photographer be forced to take pictures of a certain events if he doesn’t want to. What kind of a legal nonsense is this?

  • str1977

    “A blacklist – we purposefully will harm these individuals for their opinions – seems very un-American.”

    And a boycott does and intends the very same thing.

    A blacklist is merely a tool in order to boycott a whole group of people (hence the list) and though usually directed against employees, it could also be used against a list of companies.

    I can see no moral difference between the two.

    The difference is WHO is doing the boycotting?

    Is it merely individuals and groups with no power to force anyone – then they are free to do so (of course not according to John K., who above declared such things a crime) for whatever good or bad reason they have – or whether state institutions (and that includes law courts) hand down such a boycott.

    Whether a concept is American seems perfectly irrelevant to me.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=3978 E.E. Evans

    This debate is fascinating and clearly raises some complex issues as well as hitting some hot botton ones.

    But can someone answer this: is this, first of all, a crucial First Amendment/religious freedom issue (you have debated that to some extent), and second, is it getting the media attention it, as Jacoby argues, deserves?

  • Martha

    John K., I broadly agree with you but there does seem to be rather more going on than merely boycotting a business that supported Propostion 8.

    The most prominent case seems to be the one of the El Coyote restaurant, where the manageress gave a donation of $100 to the campaign supporting Proposition 8.

    As a result of what seems like – to put it mildly – some very vigorous protesting, she has resigned and the employees gave a $500 donation to an anti-Proposition 8 group.

    Now, given that a lot of organisations threw an awful lot of money into the campaign before the amendment was passed, (the California Teachers Association raised $1.3 million in support of the pro-same-sex marriage side; Apple contributed $100,000; Google’s founders gave $140,000; according to Wikipedia “The campaigns for and against Proposition 8 raised $35.8 million and $37.6 million, respectively”) this private donation seems like very small potatoes on the anti side.

    And given that the original decision was made by the courts declaring that same-sex marriage could be constitutional, and that both sides (those pro- and those anti- samesex marriage) had an equal bite at the cherry persuading the voters of California to vote one way or the other, this seems more like intimidation rather than legitimate protest.

    Frankly, if places are paying danegeld in the form of donations to advocacy groups seeking to have the amendment overturned, I don’t see how this helps anyone. I don’t like it on the traditional marriage side, and I don’t like it on the pro-gay marriage side.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    As Martha pointed out the Cal. Teachers Association used $1.3 million of its members’ money to help denigrate marriage as traditionally understood. But how much media coverage has been given to educational unions and associations -totally corruptly in my opinion–pouring money into left-wing politics that have nothing to do with teacher’s wages, hours, medical coverage, teaching load, etc.
    I am retired from public high school teaching in a big city –and glad of it. Before I retired I tried to get out of my corrupt union–as should have been my contract right as a veteran teacher, but noone anywhere in the gov’t or the union supposedly knew the mechanics of stopping my dues automatic withdrawal. (What liars, I am sure.)
    And if poor and working class parents–especially in cities) ever learned the contempt in which they are held by the liberal educational elites (classic refrain: “If you think the kid is stupid (or bad)–wait until you meet the parent”)-there would be a revolution against public education. But no media coverage helps keep the victims of public education in line.

  • Jerry

    …is this, first of all, a crucial First Amendment/religious freedom issue (you have debated that to some extent), and second, is it getting the media attention it, as Jacoby argues, deserves?

    Yes and no. If you directly attack individuals because of their speech including financial support for propositions, you’re attacking freedom of speech. Freedom of religion is a trickier question.

    As to the media attention, it’s not getting the attention it deserves – an in depth look at the issues from all points of view along with historical perspective as well as understanding of the media’s own biases.

    Please note: I’m very carefully in the following presenting my understanding of the conscious or unconscious MSM perspective. I know some will react strongly to the following:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the media narrative is based on the following: Scripture was used to justify slavery and then the inferior treatment of blacks. Scripture was used to keep women out of the workplace and in a subservient role. Now scripture is being used to justify discrimination against gays and lesbians who were born with their sexual orientation and thus don’t really have a choice.

    Since the American zeitgeist derives from the Declaration of Independence where it was said that all were created equal and have equal rights, those who oppose those rights are at best standing in the way of the American dream.

    Therefore the media is displaying their bias toward the American dream by casting the struggle of gays for equal rights and equal justice in the historical context of a struggle against those who use religion to justify discrimination.

  • FW Ken

    Well, scriptures were also used to promote the dignity of women and ameliorate the effects of slavery, but I suppose that doesn’t fit the politically useful narrative, now does it?

    As I’ve said before, if homosexual impulses are a matter of genetics, so what? Diabetes, alcoholism, and Down’s Syndrome all have genetic components which preclude “choice” (in varying degrees) for people with those conditions.

    Of course, the media narrative isn’t about causality and choice, but the nature of homosexual impulses, i.e. they are like race and gender. That is ideology, presented as science.

  • Stoo

    So homosexuality goes in the same box as Down’s Syndrome in your view?

  • Stoo

    Actually that might be unfair of me.

    But. If you’re going to pull up examples of negative conditions like that, you’re implying homosexuality is also a negative condition. That the person somehow “suffers” from. That’s offensive enough for me to not care about being fair.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    I have been shocked at how little coverage we’ve seen of the clash between religious freedom and the normalization of homosexuality.

    It almost certainly is because the mainstream media does not view opposition to homosexuality as a legitimate view. A reader recently sent along a Pew poll from 2004 showing that the media held outlying views on the topic relative to the public. (http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=829)

    I thought of this post as I read a recent ruling (http://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases08/pr20081229a.html) from the New Jersey Office of Civil Rights dealing with a Methodist-owned beachfront pavilion. The Methodists had opened up their facility for civil commitment ceremonies — but held worship spaces off limits. They were sued and the Civil Rights division ruled that the Methodists aren’t allowed to withhold permission to use their property for same-sex civil commitment ceremonies unless — and only unless — they withhold permission to use their property for the public’s weddings or other uses as well.

    As Chai Feldblum, the Georgetown University law professor and gay activist who helps draft federal legislation related to sexual orientation, says, when religious liberty conflicts with gay rights, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.”

    HOW can this not be a major ongoing news story?

  • Joe

    It is an important story, if for no other reason that there seems to be a misunderstanding about the scope of the First Amendment and the limits of religious liberty. More coverage of this issue will dispell the notion that that religious liberty gives a license to discriminate or violate the law.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com MattK

    Joun K. said:

    “First, religious beliefs do not entitle someone running a business to discriminate against others.”

    Well, that is a provacative statement and I think anyone who believes there are rights inherent in property ownership will disagree with you.

  • FW Ken

    Stoo,

    You are entitled to your opinions, and your pique. Neither concerns me.

    What does concern me is the false claims of scientific proof for your opinions and that they have been given the force of law. The complicity of the media in this travesty should be a shame to all journalists.

    Again, we have seen toxic effects of the gay rights movement in Canada, England, and Sweden, as it affects free speech and freedom of religion. The foolishness is to believe that it won’t inhibit a free press, as well.

  • FW Ken

    dispell the notion that that religious liberty gives a license to discriminate or violate the law.

    Tell that to conscientious objectors or folks who support illegal immigrants (the sanctuary movement). Unjust laws are subject to civil disobedience.

  • Jerry

    As a followup comment, the discussion here illustrates why this is such an important topic. The clash of beliefs and rights is complex and deserving of attention. Some questions that should be asked:

    What is the right of the government to compel someone to do something he does not want to do on religious or other grounds? – This is a trick question in part it impacts all religious groups sooner or later: plural marriage, sacramental drugs, gay marriage, abortion, vaccination, providing birth control, carrying passengers who have alcohol. If it’s fairness or social harm, then both sides can point to where they belief it applies.

    Is there a way to reconcile the clash of rights by achieving a balance rather than a total victory for one side or the other? The automatic assumption is of course no but have people actually sat down and tried to find one?

    There’s also a tactical question: what tactics are appropriate and moral for anyone to use on another group no matter what?

    This is way beyond what anyone could expect in a new story or even an in-depth report, but it would be nice if at least some of these issues were acknowledged in various media reports.

  • Ben

    I don’t know what counts for MSM these days, but I’m aware of at least two major outlets doing in-depth takes on these questions: NPR and The Christian Science Monitor. And just last week, The New York Times and many others covered the latest wrinkle in the Ocean Grove Methodist case.

  • Ben

    Mollie wrote:

    The Methodists had opened up their facility for civil commitment ceremonies — but held worship spaces off limits. They were sued and the Civil Rights division ruled that the Methodists aren’t allowed to withhold permission to use their property for same-sex civil commitment ceremonies unless — and only unless — they withhold permission to use their property for the public’s weddings or other uses as well.

    This strikes me as a garbled explanation. The nonprofit organization (not church) that owned the property was getting a tax exemption on the boardwalk pavilion based on the explicit agreement that the pavilion would be open to the public “to all persons on an equal basis.” For years the space was rented out for religious weddings, secular weddings, public gatherings, and even a civil war reenactment. When the lesbian couple asked to rent if for their civil ceremony, the organization denied them the ability to rent the pavilion — this had nothing to do with “worship spaces” as far as I can tell, Mollie.

    HOW can this not be a major ongoing news story?

    That’s a great question. My guess is that despite what Maggie Gallagher predicted in her ground-breaking Weekly Standard piece, there hasn’t been huge numbers of these cases in the United States yet. That’s not to say there won’t be down the line — in which case we could expect to see a lot more media attention.

  • FW Ken

    Ben,

    Thank you for the link to the Gallagher piece. It’s a keeper. I especially appreciated the context for Feldblum’s statement quoted by Mollie.

  • Tom

    Other people who were targeted:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-12-13-brothers-attack_N.htm
    Queens, New York “A family spokesman says an Ecuadorean immigrant has DIED nearly a week after being viciously beaten in Brooklyn by attackers yelling anti-Hispanic and anti-gay slurs. Police say three men attacked the 31-year-old real estate broker as he walked arm-in-arm with his 38-year-old brother early Dec. 7. Witnesses told police they heard the assailants shouting anti-gay and anti-Hispanic slurs at the brothers.”

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/12/20/BAV714SBA1.DTL
    Richmond, California “4 men sought in GANG RAPE of lesbian. Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of four men who allegedly kidnapped and gang-raped for nearly an hour a 28-year-old Richmond woman, who was left naked when they fled in her car. The crime, which occurred on Dec. 13, is being investigated as a hate crime because of comments the suspects made about the victim’s sexual orientation, police said. The woman is openly lesbian and had a rainbow sticker on her license plate, a symbol of gay pride.”

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/california/ci_11168634
    Torrance, California “On October 26, 2008, a gay man was BEATEN with a “Yes on Prop. 8″ yard sign in Torrance. The attacker used homosexual and racial slurs while hitting him with the sign and his fists. Superior Court Judge Laura Ellison determined there was enough evidence to hold the attacker for trial on a felony hate crime assault and a misdemeanor of interfering with another’s exercise of civil rights.”

    http://pressbanner.com/content/view/2292/42
    Felton, California “A 22-year-old man advocating gay and lesbian rights was allegedly PUNCHED in the face in front of New Leaf Market in Felton on Dec. 10 between 2:10 and 2:20 p.m. ‘The victim is associated with a group that works for human rights to achieve gay and lesbian equality,’ said sheriff’s Sgt. Mario Sulay.”

  • Stoo

    FWKen, I don’t know what kind of claims of scientific proof you’re on about. Last i heard the naturenuture thing was far from settled. We’re just pretty sure no-one decided to be attracted to men any more than you decided to be attracted to women.

    I was rather more concerned with you putting homosexuality in the same box as conditions that generally we try to cure, treat or at least provide extra support for those unfortunat enough to be afflicted. The only conclusion I can draw is you arguing that that even if it’s not a choice, it’s somehow a bad thing that needs a cure or treatment. And this isn’t really a scientific question in the first place.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=3978 E.E. Evans

    Ben, I suspect you are right — there haven’t been a lot of these cases yet. I wrote Mollie last night that I thought a few of them would get appealed to the Supreme Court at some point. Thanks for the good links. And Tom, thank you, too.

    What I also thought about before I went to sleep was how, as been evinced by this thread, discrimination is both very real (as evinced when there are hate crimes), and very much in the eye of the beholder. It’s a challenge for the media to cover these cases in way that reflects principles as well as compellling narrative, but they need to, for not only do they touch on our core values as a nation, but on those we as individuals hold dearest.

  • Stoo

    It occurs to me, in a discussion like this it might be helpful to keep in mind wider views on discrimination. I mean there’s an opinion (particularly in america) that businesses should be able to freely choose who to serve or not on any grounds anyway. Others don’t hold property rights so utterly absolute.

  • FW Ken

    The only conclusion I can draw is you arguing that that even if it’s not a choice, it’s somehow a bad thing that needs a cure or treatment.

    Actually, I am arguing that the media (and you) are presenting same-sex attractions as a normal facet of human life that doesn’t need a cure and are claiming scientific approbation for your opinions. Apparently, you, at least, aren’t claiming science as a backing.

    But I repeat, it’s just your opinion.

  • Brian L

    Joe @ 17 said:

    More coverage of this issue will dispell the notion that that religious liberty gives a license to discriminate or violate the law.

    Religious liberty is the law, and is actually enshrined (so to speak) in the highest law governing our country.

    Laws (or interpretations of laws) are coming into conflict and the conflict is not being covered well. That is the issue.

  • Stoo

    Ken, sure. But it’s just your opinion that that’s a travesty or a “toxic effect”.

  • FW Ken

    Actually, Stoo, there’s a good bit of evidence for the toxic effect of your ideology, but this isn’t the place. The real question is the justice of imposing your personal opinions on the rest of us, penalizing persons who disagree with you. That’s the purpose of the First Amendment: freedom of speech, religion, and press.

  • Dave

    FW Ken, a challenge to the notion that homosexuality is inherently harmful is not just Stoo’s personal opinion. The psychiatric profession took this on and decided in favor of Stoo’s stance.

    Turn the question on its head: What are the roots of the notion that homosexuality is harmful? I see three: Inherent social prejudice, which is subject to erosion over time as we have seen with racial prejudice; the aftermath of the AIDS epidemic, which carries more freight about promiscuous lifestyles than any sexual orientation; and natural law, which is astrology for the educated, a pre-scientific holdover with no standing in a scientific age.

  • FW Ken

    Dave, we’ve had this discussion. The political decision of the APA was, despite intense pressure, removed same-sex attractions from the DSM. By a near vote, as it happened – 53% to 47%. A chief architect of that So if you can point me to the “science” in all of that, please do.

    Here’s an alternative viewpoint:

    In late 1977, ten-thousand psychiatrists, members of the American Medical Association, were polled on the issue. Of 2,500 replies received, approximately 68% answered the question, “Is homosexuality usually a pathological adaptation as opposed to a normal variation?” in the affirmative. This strongly suggested to the interpreter, Dr. Harold I. Lief, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, an authority on sexual problems, and a leading sex educator at the time, that the ‘previous APA vote was influenced by political and social considerations,

    That’s from:

    http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/narth/1996papers/socarides.html

    Your personal opinions, Dave, as always, are of interest to you, I’m sure.

  • FW Ken

    The political decision of the APA was, despite intense pressure, removed same-sex attractions from the DSM. B

    Well, that sentence made no sense. Try again:

    The decision of the APA , was made under intense political pressure, was to remove same-sex attractions from the DSM, which is not quite the same as declaring it “normal”.

  • Stoo

    The real question is the justice of imposing your personal opinions on the rest of us,

    That’s your opinion, which I’m sure is very interesting to you.

  • Jerry

    scientific approbation for your opinions.

    There is clear evidence coming from various studies of animals and human being that at least SOME same-sex attaction is genetically based. http://www.springerlink.com/content/qhw6cwn7rdcqlk94/ is one such paper about same-sex attraction in fruit flys. There are human studies such as http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080617151845.htm that discuss brain functioning that also seems to indicate a biological basis for at least some such attraction.

    Of course the key word is ‘some‘ and the natural followup question is how much. There is also a question of behavior. If someone is attracted to a member of the same sex or in some cases bi-sexual, that does not necessarily mean that one has to act on that attraction. I know a reasonable number people of different sexual orientation who are celebate. That is another level of the debate.

    And has been pointed out there is a shift in attitudes in this issue between younger and older religious folk compared with the same level of belief about issues such as abortion.

  • str1977

    Stoo,

    “The real question is the justice of imposing your personal opinions on the rest of us,”

    That’s your opinion, which I’m sure is very interesting to you.

    It is not only interesting FWKen, since – as the above cases show – there is one group trying to force everybody to adhere to their opinion, threaten them by negative consequences in finances and employment to keep their mouths shut.

    If anyone wants to see tyranny in the making, that’s it.

  • str1977

    PS. What FWKen’s initial statement (the one with Down’s syndrome etc.) meant, I think was that the (unsubstantiated) claim of a “homosexual gene” or the (accurate) statement that homosexual inclination is not a “choice” do in no way answer the question about the goodness of these inclinations, their desirability or the moral character of acting out on these.

    No more, no less.

  • FW Ken

    Jerry,

    I specifically avoided the issue of causation. If same-sex attractions do turn out to be biological in origin, it really doesn’t matter to my argument, which is that it could be just another birth defect.

    Note I said “could be”. Whether it is a birth defect or a normal variant of our humanity is an issue entirely separate from causation or “choice”.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=3978 E.E. Evans

    Please keep the tone civil–imagine talking to the people in this thread stone sober at a party-looking at them in the eyes. I don’t think you would insult each other. I doubt we’ll resolve whether homosexuality is innate or learned behavior, nor is it germane to the topic at hand!

  • http://www.nhreligion.com Stephen A.

    All rhetoric aside, there is almost no scientific evidence as to the nurture/nature argument, despite what points either side want to push when pushing their agendas.

    The media have been shamefully negligent in pointing this (uncomfortable) fact out during debates like these, leaving them to be arguing the ‘fairness’ issue.

    As FW Ken just said, the outcome of the argument is irrelevant. There are lots of genetic predispositions, most are morally neutral. It’s how we DEAL with them in a society that matters.

    What’s exceedingly dangerous is when one side says, without hardly any justification “We’ve got the answer. Discussion over. No more science here.” and then uses the media to shut down any further discussion.

    I might add that this tactic has been used almost exclusively by the American Left, though I suppose one could find examples on the extreme right, though I don’t know how they’d enforce it, since they hold virtually no power in the media or in academia.

    I go back to the thing I’ve said before. Reporters should actively seek out views with which they DISAGREE, and then treat those sources fairly.

  • http://www.followingthelede.blogspot.com Sabrina

    So not enough MSM coverage … but I don’t see links to religious press coverage either (and neither Focus on the Family’s citizen link nor Alliance Defense Fund qualify).

    Am interested in your take on why that might be….

  • MJBubba

    Ms. Elizabeth E.E., thank you very much for vigorously monitoring this conversation thread. I read the first several pages of comments at Jacoby’s editorial, and it was full of vitriolic attacks to such an extent that there was no cogent discussion. That is an unfortunate but pretty common occurrence whenever religious topics appear in the mainstream media web sites. GetReligion is a refreshingly polite and intelligent corner of the worldwide web.

  • Jay

    Here is another story (http://www.onenewsnow.com/Legal/Default.aspx?id=369390)

    In March 2007 the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association refused to permit two lesbians — Harriet Bernstein, 67, and Luisa Paster, 61 — to stage a civil union ceremony at the church-owned Boardwalk Pavilion, and returned their check for $250. Subsequently, says Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, the lesbians filed a legal complaint against group. However, Association officials countered that the decision was based on their religious beliefs.

    “That didn’t make any difference to the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights,” says Staver of the group that issued its determination on Monday. “They said there’s no First Amendment defense here and in fact the church violated the public accommodation law in New Jersey,” the attorney notes. “After New Jersey adopted the same-sex civil union law, no longer could the church allow its facility to be used in ministry to the public because to do so would open them up to these same-sex civil unions.”

    Since it’s a church itself being sued — and not individual members — it seems even more dramatic a 1st Amendment issue.

    This was covered by the MSM — the Gray Lady herself.

  • MJBubba

    I find the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association case from New Jersey to be fascinating. I saw one account that stated that the OGCMA “has accepted state Green Acres funding.” Reading stories in the New Jersey papers revealed that this simply means that they signed up for a property tax exemption. New Jersey law on that point is different from my state, evidently, but has interesting implications. Evidently, now every chapel in New Jersey that is available for weddings by non-members will have to kowtow to the GLBT community, regardless of any doctrinal position they may have.
    If anyone is interested in the official investigation report, see http://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases08/pr20081229a-Bernstein-v-OGCMA.pdf
    The Methodist owners are trying to preserve the tax exemption by making the pavilion no longer available to any non-members, so that will be a big improvement to the citizens of Ocean Grove. The result will be a smaller number of suitable venues for weddings in New Jersey, with a possible increase in rental rates due to smaller supply.

  • http://www.telladf.org Greg Scott

    Hi all — Greg Scott, Media Relations Director for the Alliance Defense Fund here. Great discussion. Thanks E.E. for getting the ball rolling.

    ADF represents Elaine Huguenin, Marcia Walden and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association — the three cases most discussed on this thread.

    I can affirm that the OG case has received the most coverage, with stories in NYT, NPR, AP and numerous other local, regional and national outlets. The piece that best reflected the key First Amendment aspects of the case was a report by NPR’s outstanding religion correspondent Barbara Bradley-Hagerty that ran last summer. The initial coverage from the New York Times was actually very well-done (Jill Capuzzo). Unfortunately, most of the follow-up has drifted in focus and made this an issue merely of same-sex couples being “denied” something rather than giving equal time to the core religious liberty arguments ADF is putting forth.

    The state has actually orchestrated a pretty well-crafted communication campaign since ADF was able to come out of the gate at the dawn of this case and bring the Forst Amendment to the fore as the key issue. What the state has done in the last two stages of the case is to release its “findings” to the media before notifying OGCMA or ADF, putting the ministry on the perpetual defensive in an already hostile press corps, which would like to cast as sympathetic victims those attempting to coerce a Christian ministry to hold events that violate its faith tenets on its private property. ADF was alerted to the latest action only after we began receiving calls from AP and other outlets. A final interesting note that has not been reported anywhere is that aside from several couples who, within weeks of civil unions being imposed by the NJSC on the people of New Jersey, applied to have their ceremonies at Ocean Grove’s worship pavilion, one same-sex couple demanded to have their ceremony in OG’s Thornley CHAPEL. Interestingly, that couple was denied, but did not file a complaint. Gee…you’d think there was some sort of coordinated effort going on here…

    Regarding Huguenin, it has received some decent coverage, mostly in Christian and conservative sources, including the Laura Ingraham Show, Janet Parshall, Hugh Hewitt and others. It was touched on in the NPR mentioned above as well. The MSM has ignored it for the most part, but that will change once the actual litigation begins.

    Walden has not received nearly the coverage it warrants. I personally contacted both the CDC beat reporter (yes, such a beat exists) and the legal reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Both refused to cover the story. Same with AP in Atlanta. Mike Adams wrote a piece over at Town Hall and the Inspiration Network profiled Marcia Walden for their fine show Speechless: Silencing the Christians, but aside from that, media crickets.

    I was glad to hear from Jeff while he was researching his piece, because like him, I see a large media space to fill on this crucial issue. There are more cases than you’d think and the threat to our religious liberty is more clear and present than the MSM will tell you.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=3978 E.E. Evans

    Greg, thanks for giving us the background on media response to these lawsuits from the ADF perspective. It’s always helpful to hear from a person who is on the frontllines of such a challenging issue.Do you think any of these cases are Supreme Court material?

  • dalea

    Regarding photographers not being able to refuse a gay wedding on religious grounds, Brian asks:

    Why not?

    It depends on the business setup in question. An amateur photographer who takes occasional jobs for money, most likely can do so. A photographer who has a fixed location, a store, in a commercial area can not. Local government has issued a license to the photographer, in this both the government and the photographer swear to do various things. The government promises to use taxpayers money to provide necessary and required services to the business. The photographer swears to maintain a public accomodation, a business open to all who can pay for services. When listing in the Yellow Pages, the photographer swears to provide services to the general public, ie people who use the Yellow Pages. Frequently photographers have agreements with Brand Name film companies. And Brand Name agreements always have a stipulation that their product must be available to all.

    Had the photographer said up front he would not photograph Gay and Lesbian events, he never would have received the license that allowed him to rent a store and open to the public. He never would have been allowed to place an ad in the Yellow Pages. He never would have a tie with a film company. Looking at the story as presented, I can see a large number of outright lies and broken oaths, a real case of bad faith.

    Most businesses are dependent on taxpayer funded infrastructure to run their operations. The roads, interstates, airports, police and fire service, etc are paid for by all the taxpayers. Gay and Lesbian taxpayers pay into the funding for the service support businesses need and in return should be allowed to use the services of any public accomodation they can afford. Indeed, they are forced to contribute. The NM agency simply affirms a simple fact: public accomodations are for all of the public. This case is really like a licensed restaurant with a sign saying: No Jews or Blacks served.

  • dalea

    People have a right to their own religious believes. But, people do not have a right to open a business and do whatever they please. Owning a business enters one into a web of contracts and obligations to others. One of the most basic of these obligations is to be a public accomodation. Two of the cases here clearly show people willing to break solemn oaths, ignore contractual obligations freely entered into, misrepresent their actual practice, in other words lie with abandon, finally calling the whole practice ‘religion’.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com MattK

    dalea said:

    “One of the most basic of these obligations is to be a public accomodation.”

    So she says. But that is the issue being contested, isn’t it? There are many Americans who do not believe natural rights are diminished by starting a business. Many (though certainly not a majority) believe that the rights of religion, association, speech, and property trump any claim that a person is “obligated” to be a public accomodation.

  • dalea

    To participate in the market, one must accept being a ‘public accomodation’ or find some real clever way around it. If you don’t want to be one, don’t have a business. This is the price for getting into the game.

    When I was young, there was a prominent Baptist restaurant owner, Lester Maddox. He made essentially the same argument you are making. Only he didn’t want to sell his fried chicken to Black people. Lester had a great gimmick for spreading his views: the ax handle he used to beat Blacks who tried to buy food from him.

    You are simply repeating the old segregationist argument, substituting Gay and Lesbian for Black.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com MattK

    dalea says:

    one must accept.

    You keep saying things like that. First you said business owners are obligated. Now you say one must accept. No. I don’t accept it and no one can make me. The rights of free people can not be abrogated without them ceasing to be free.

    dalea says:

    You are simply repeating the old segregationist argument, substituting Gay and Lesbian for Black.

    Actually, I didn’t say anything about homosexuals or people of any race. I think that the rights are rights. I think of a business owner wants to discriminate against old people, or youg people, married people, or Christian poeple, or Muslim poeple, or black people, or homosexual people, or smokers, or non-smokers, or fat people, or any other person, that is their right.

  • str1977

    dalea,

    “A photographer who has a fixed location, a store, in a commercial area can not. Local government has issued a license to the photographer, in this both the government and the photographer swear to do various things.”

    Since when do photographers need licenses from the state that require them to contract with any prospective customer?

    “Most businesses are dependent on taxpayer funded infrastructure to run their operations. The roads, interstates, airports, police and fire service, etc are paid for by all the taxpayers.”

    And this infrastructure is used by everybody – not dependendent on any supposed promises.

    And if you are talkin about swearing oaths – where were these oaths sworn? Even solemn oaths? Has anyone actually ever sworn these oaths or did you just make them up?

    “ignore contractual obligations freely entered into”

    Your characterisation above did not make them so “freely entered into”.

    “People have a right to their own religious believes. But, people do not have a right to open a business and do whatever they please.”

    Yes, they have. There are of course exceptions when the state has to ensure the quality of the services provided, e.g. you cannot simply open up a medical practice, you cannot simply pose as a lawyer. Photographing however don’t seem to fall into that category.

    “Owning a business enters one into a web of contracts and obligations to others. One of the most basic of these obligations is to be a public accomodation.”

    Nonsense. Look up “Freedom of contract”. The state can of course limit that freedom, denying a business the right to form a contract under certain conditions (limitations of working hours, selling alcohol to minors etc.). But it may never force anyone to form a contract.

    A business is anyway interested in get as many customers as possible. That’s the nature of the game. But there is no law forcing them to.

    Now, I could be wrong and America already in a state of tyranny as described by dalea. I can’t say because I am not American but judging from the conditions in my country – which commonly has farther-reaching restrictions than the US – I can only shake my head at such ideas.

  • Stoo

    PS. What FWKen’s initial statement (the one with Down’s syndrome etc.) meant, I think was that the (unsubstantiated) claim of a “homosexual gene” or the (accurate) statement that homosexual inclination is not a “choice” do in no way answer the question about the goodness of these inclinations, their desirability or the moral character of acting out on these.

    Fair enough, it was his tone that bugged me more than anything else, heavily implying undesirability to the point of needing curing or treatment.

    Sweeping stuff aside with “just your opinion” doesn’t help, I wasn’t meaning to dismiss his own opinion so much as throw his own tactics back in his face to make a point. Apologies to E^3 for my own grumpy tone.

  • str1977

    “Fair enough, it was his tone that bugged me more than anything else, heavily implying undesirability to the point of needing curing or treatment.”

    Fair enough, but I thought the implication was more read into his statement by you, which in turn bugged FWKen who then failed to explain what his initial statement actually meant.

  • Franklin Jennings

    “the ax handle he used to beat Blacks who tried to buy food from him.”

    Lester Maddox never gave away an ax handle in his life. He sold souvenier pick handles (it ties in with the name of his restuarant, the Pick Rick, and has nothing to do with segregation.)

    He never beat anyone, especially not anyone trying to buy his food. His black employees did once grab those pickhandles from the bins by the fireplace and brandish them to intimidate a rough crowd outside once. But they weren’t planning to buy food.

    Of course, as governor of Georgia, Lester Maddox did more to integrate the state gov’t and improve the lot of its black citizens than any other, before or since.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=3978 E.E. Evans

    I just edited a comment for tone, and will spike any that seem to be mutually insulting.

    Thanks, Stoo, for the apology–this isn’t for me so much as for our other readers. I feel like saying sometimes, you guys step outside and settle this!

    I chuckled and shook my head this morning when I saw the thread from last evening…Lester MADDOX? C’mon guys. Let’s let the dead bury their dead. I’m going to segregate him right off the comments if we don’t return to the topic at hand.

  • Linda Sue

    Hoping to go a different route – I’m interested in how far legal definitions will go with the premise that one’s religious beliefs cannot govern their civil behaviors. Does this extend to conscientious objectors to serving in battle? My business in licensed by the state and I am required to treat the seven protected classes fairly – which I go to extremes to insure I do. But I deal with housing – something that is a basic necessity – don’t see how taking wedding pictures is a necessity in anyone’s life. MSM’s choice of wording continues to challenge the reader to find out “what the heck are they talking about” when discussing the constitution and the Bill of Rights.

  • FW Ken

    Sweeping stuff aside with “just your opinion” doesn’t help,

    But that’s my entire point, stated three times now: there is no scientific basis for equating race with sexual attraction. They are different categories, even if both were biological in nature. Nature is broken, hence the references to physical disorders.

    Yes, I do consider same-sex attractions to be a disordered sexuality, which does need treatment. And yes, that’s my opinion. But believing that, I may logically consider anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation to be unjust, and therefore a fair subject for political action, litigation and, if necessary, civil disobedience.

    Elizabeth, I keep coming back to your statement yesterday that “discrimination is in the eye of the beholder”. My first reaction is “no, it’s in the eye of the law”, much as dalea presents. Granted, she is describing a legal situation that doesn’t exist in the U.S. (perhaps she is Canadian or English), but there is something to it, as anti-discrimination laws written for blacks, religious groups, and immigrants increasingly include gays and lesbians. Feldblum, in the Gallegher article linked by Ben, has a reasonable discussion of that issue, from the gay advocate’s side.

    But laws come from people, and that’s where the “eye of the beholder” comes in. “Discrimination”, I think someone noted above, is certainly acceptable at times. We allow job discrimination on the basis of criminal convictions, skills, work history and so on. At root, to discriminate means merely to distinguish one thing from another; in common usage, however, it has come to mean to discriminate against, to somehow punish people for some attribute or another that they possess. The issue then, is to ensure that discrimination is just, based on relevant characteristics.

    Here’s the media hook: to my observation, journalists, reflecting a demographically significant part of the culture, have made, without sufficient evidence, a judgment that in the eye of that beholder, same-sex attractions are in a category with race and sex, rather that in the category with diabetes and alcoholism (note, those are morally neutral disorders, as is the condition of having same-sex attractions). As Jerry noted above, it’s behaviors that attain a moral dimension. However, again returning to Feldblum, the gay ideology refuses to make that distinction: to “be gay” means to have sexual congress with another man or woman. There is no separation.

  • Dave

    FW Ken, we have indeed had this discussion before. As I pointed out the last time, there was no scientific reason for the DSM ever to have included homosexuality as a mental issue. It was a holdover of cultural prejudice, reinforced by a sampling error: All the homosexual patients of psychoanalysts were unhappy people (who else goes to a shrink?) and the profession made an error in logic and concluded that all homosexuals are unhappy.

  • Dave

    FW Ken again, it is not necessary to equate race with sexual orientation to notice the stark parallels in the forms of discrimination related to race vs sexual orientation. And I’m using “discrimination” in the dictionary, not the legal sense — the act of making distinctions. It’s an argument form that says, “You are using logic parallel to that deployed by segregationists in the 1950s.”

    It’s possible, of course, to shrug off that argument and say, “Your opinions are of interest to you.” That undercuts any construction of reasons why either side is right, and reduces it to a mere political clash of interests. If that’s what you want, it’s OK by me, because I think my side of that contest is gradually prevailing. But as an act of charity I will continue to point out how sexual orientation discrimination parallels racial discrimination, in the hope that some folks on the other side will see the light.

  • http://www.telladf.org Greg Scott

    EE asked:

    Do you think any of these cases are Supreme Court material?

    Hopefully ALL of them get there :)

    Each deals with slightly different aspects of the friction about which we are talking and all of the constitutional issues must be dealt with eventually. If these particular cases aren’t settled at the SCOTUS, these constitutional questions will certainly surface there in the near future as the aggressive attack on religious liberty gains momentum.

  • danr

    One irony in the parallels drawn in the media (and culture at large) between racial discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination, is the relative dearth of media attention and inquiry into the African-American vote overwhelmingly in favor of Prop 8.

    Who better to offer their perspective on any distinction between the two? Why aren’t more of their voices being heard?

  • FW Ken

    It was a holdover of cultural prejudice, reinforced by a sampling error:

    That’s not an argument I’ve ever heard raised by the principles in the discussion. Do you have a source on the sampling error claim? I would have to say that from my 15 years of working in adult mental health services, and many years of reading on the subject, I have to say your description of how matters get included in the DSM is pretty much fantasy.

    BTW, I have no problem with same-sex attraction not being included in the DSM, since I’m pretty comfortable with the DSM being something less than scripture. In my opinion, same-sex attracttions are not a psychiatric disorder, which don’t mean they are not instrinsically disordered, i.e. not perversions of our sexuality. Again, there is simply no science one way or another.

    reduces it to a mere political clash of interests.

    What I want is irrelevant; it’s what’s happening. Since the pro-gay side is systematically enforcing it’s dogma on the rest of us without a rational basis for it’s claims, then it’s a political struggle. That your side is currently winning is a fact, but history suggests these things are cyclical (related, I think, to levels of prosperity and security), so I wouldn’t get too complacent. Some Greeks, early Christian era Romans, 14th century Florentines, and probably other economically stable societies became more tolerant of same-sex activity, but these were fleeting moments in time, so there you go.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    But as an act of charity I will continue to point out how sexual orientation discrimination parallels racial discrimination, in the hope that some folks on the other side will see the light.

    When done by someone politically or religiously Incorrect, this kind of “charity” is denounced as “prosleytizing”. You wouldn’t want to be guilty of PROSELEYTIZING, would you?

  • dalea

    Greg Scott says:

    the aggressive attack on religious liberty gains momentum.

    How does requiring businesses to conform to the requirements of law have anything at all to do with religious freedom? The arguments pesented here are far fetched and unrelated to standard commercial practice. Owning a business has nothing to do with what one personally believes. It is simply a means of making a living. And there is no room in the enterprise for grand ideological statements. You don’t get to choose your customers; the customers choose you.

    When you get your business license, your Federal Tax ID, your sales tax certificate, you promise to be a public accomodation. I would regard this as a solemn oath, others here apparently regard breaking promises as SOP for religious people. The discussion here proceeds from the presentation of someone who can best be styled a right wing fringe author. It then takes some examples of people who break the law and the agreements and contracts they have entered into. Next comes the assertion that these law breakers have some sort of ‘religious’ justification for doing so. All of which results in the idea that religious freedom is under attack.

    A large part of the problem here is that most people discussing have no real experience of commercial reality.

  • FW Ken

    dalea,

    Is the fact that something exists in law preclude legal challenges to it? Then are all laws just? All constitutional?

    Should doctors and nurses report emergency room patients to the INS because it’s the law? Should sanctuary workers ignore their conscience because it’s the law?

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    More coverage of this issue will dispell the notion that that religious liberty gives a license to discriminate or violate the law.

    ***

    Wow. Freedom of association is now illegal?

  • Joe

    TMatt, freedom of association is not absolute, surely you know that. If you open a business, you cannot put a “No Blacks allowed” sign out front. You are not free to ban Catholics or the Irish. The law creates limits on how free you are to only associate with certain people, especially when you are open for business or at work.

  • http://www.soilcatholics.blogspot.com Peggy

    This is a great thread. I agree that the First Amendment is taking a beating and we’re reading it mostly in conservative media.

    On this “obligation to serve” claim put forth by reader dalea:

    The First Amendment also addresses freedom of association, not just freedom of religion. Now, we do all agree as a society that businesses can’t just turn away folks of different skin color or religion for reason of skin color or religion. There’s no obligation b/c one uses the sidewalks that a business must serve all comers. Now, the only businesses that are affirmatively legally obliged to serve all comers are legal monopolies or utilities, such as telephone companies, power companies, water. etc. The reason is that the economies of scale are so great that for another firm to enter the market is infeasible. Consumers have no place else to go for different service quality or pricing choices, etc.

    In the case of wedding venues or photographers, consumers have many choices. Maybe not always the one they’d really like, but we have to realize who can really meet our needs. The homosexuals suing the Christians seems very pointed and planned in many cases. Why would a traditional Christian participate in a homosexual wedding, something morally abhorrent to him? Why should the law compel a Christian to do so? Thomas More died rather than aid King Henry VIII in his quest to divorce his barren queen and marry Ann Boleyn, or offer his personal approval of such. Is this the society we are to develop into?

    A related first amendment issue which also seems related to Ocean Grove case is whether, when a religious entity accepts government funding for any purpose, it loses its rights to its religious views. Think of the gay adoption cases in Boston and CA, as well as birth control insurance coverage in CA.

  • Stoo

    In my opinion, same-sex attracttions are not a psychiatric disorder, which don’t mean they are not instrinsically disordered, i.e. not perversions of our sexuality. Again, there is simply no science one way or another.

    Then what kind of disorder are they? I mean in what meaningful sense is what you call “a perversion of sexuality”, a disorder that society should be concerned with? (honest question).

  • dalea

    The first amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    The term freedom of association does not appear in the text above. It appears to be just an old pro-segregation argument/

    Peggy, the photographer does not ‘participate’ in a wedding. He performs a commercial service for which he is compensated. His ‘moral’ views have nothing to do with the issue here. The question is does he operate his business according to the law. Which the NM Civil Rights Board found he had not. The Gay couple asked him to perform the service he advertized he did. He said no, don’t do work for queers. Which is illegal. So, he was fined. I fail to see how this has anything to do with religious freedom. And I really find it disturbing that so many here equate religion with discrimination.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=3978 E.E. Evans

    Head-ups…for the sake of patient readers, commenters, and anyone who doesn’t come from another time zone or stay up all night, this thread is closing down around 9:30 p.m…. This topic has been fun and an education for me, also, and I thank all of you for most of your comments!

  • FW Ken

    Stoo,

    that’s a fair question and the only way I can answer it is to ask you to think of something you consider “wrong”: “homophobia”, for example. I’ve heard gay advocates refer to it in almost psychiatric terms, but can we agree that the term denotes disordered social relationships. In my usage, avarice would be disordered relationship with material goods (money), gluttony as disordered relationship with food, and so on. That’s how I am using the term, more or less.

    OTOH, maybe same-sex attractions (and homophobia, gluttony, and avarice) really are psychiatric conditions. I’ve spent far too much time around psychiatrists to genuflect at their every pronouncement. But then, you would have to come up with a meaningful definition of “psychiatric”, beyond “it’s in the DSM”. The DSM gets changed every few years, so there’s not much sense in treating it as scripture.

    Ooooh! it’s close to 9:30, EST, so maybe I get the last word? :-) :-)

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for your forbearance.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=3978 E.E. Evans

    I guess you did, Ken!

    Lights, out, this bar is closed. ;-)

    See you tomorrow, Elizabeth

  • Dave

    That’s not an argument I’ve ever heard raised by the principles in the discussion.

    The principals in the discussion thought they were being scientific.

  • Dave

    Will asks:

    When done by someone politically or religiously Incorrect, this kind of “charity” is denounced as “prosleytizing”. You wouldn’t want to be guilty of PROSELEYTIZING, would you?

    Proselytizing is in the eye of the beholder. Unless one remains mum on all controversial issues, one is liable to be accused of it.

  • str1977

    “How does requiring businesses to conform to the requirements of law have anything at all to do with religious freedom?”

    If the law or its implemented interpretation violates religious freedom, it sure does.

    But this is not just about religious freedom as that principle indeed does not exempt anyone from the law, least of all businesses.

    This is about freedom in all its entierity.

    “And there is no room in the enterprise for grand ideological statements.”

    Why? That’s up to the individual to decide, not you or the governement.

    “You don’t get to choose your customers; the customers choose you.”

    Oh, yes, you get to chose your customers too. Contracts are formed by two parties agreeing to something. Either side had to agree, either side choses the other.

    That is so simple that I wonder why anyone should not get it.

    “When you get your business license, your Federal Tax ID, your sales tax certificate, you promise to be a public accomodation.”

    What does that mean (if that is true)? It certainly cannot mean an abolition of freedom of contract.

    “I would regard this as a solemn oath, others here apparently regard breaking promises as SOP for religious people.”

    An oath has to be sworn in order to be an oath. Unless someone really took that oath – and it would be unusual if ayone did and troublesome if anyone had asked for it – you cannot talk as if there were oaths. As for the “promise” – I rather mistrust your interpretation.

  • str1977

    “The term freedom of association does not appear in the text above. It appears to be just an old pro-segregation argument/”

    Oho! Never mind that it is one of the classical basic rights.

    “Peggy, the photographer does not ‘participate’ in a wedding. He performs a commercial service for which he is compensated. His ‘moral’ views have nothing to do with the issue here.”

    Oh yes, they have. He is a free human being – free to do his own choices. If he is the business owner he is free with whom to make contracts or not.

    I really think it disturbing that the most basic human freedoms are argued away here. For those who were worried ahout the “patriot act” – such talk is worse.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    So, Dave, you agree with me that expatiations against “proseleytizing” have no meaning?

    Would it be an act of “charity” (as they would probably claim) for evangelical Christians to repeatedly expound their views to you in the hope that if they do it enough times you will “see the light”?

    If not, would it be because you “know” that you are right and they are wrong, or for some other reason?

  • Dave

    Will, I’m not sure what criticisms of proselytizing you mean. I’m a Unitarian Universalist, and we are always having internal debates about whether we should evangelize. I think the core problem is that so many UUs are turned off by in-your-face, ranting evangelizing that demeans any competing view, that they do not want to be associated with anything that remotely resembles it.

    It would be intrusive if evangelical Christians sought to expound on their views in person when I wanted them to go away (the kind of experience I mean supra). It would not be intrusive for them to post their views on a comment board such as this; that’s what it’s for, and they do it often.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    I often and repeatedly find, especially online, people denounced for “proseleytizing”, which is taken as self-evidently Bad.

    What I am saying is that “proseleytize”, like “cult” and “fundamentalist”, is a value judgement masquerading as a description… one of those funny words which BY DEFINITION can only be applied to Them, never Us. As I often say:

    We are a church
    You are a sect
    They are a cult

    We share
    You preach
    They proseleytize

    Also, see the “violent, hardcore evangelism” post, where one commenter characterized “pulling out a gun” as crossing a line between “evangelism” and “proseleytizing”.

    After all, we never hear that “Those Democrats came around to PROSELEYTIZE for Obama!”

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    dalea, the Hugenin case (unsurprisingly) drew much attention on the RELIGIONLAW list. These are professional lawyers and law professors. And I do not find in their comments any reference to purported “promises”, much less “solemn oaths”.

    One post (http://lists.ucla.edu/pipermail/conlawprof/2008-April/032070.html) avers:

    The term “common carriers” does indeed have a legal meaning. It refers to businesses that have a legal obligation – usually at common law – to accept all customers willing to pay their prices. Photographers and other service providers have, to my knowledge, no such obligation. They can reject potential clients for capricious reasons or no reason at all.

    So, what law school did you go to?

  • dalea

    While persuing a Masters in Biz I took a course on business law. And have signed many business contracts over the years I was a traveling exhibitor at trade shows. Every one of these had a clause requiring me to provide service as a public accomodation: I could not have ‘religious’ objections to anyone and remain in business. Every brick and mortor lease I ever signed had the same requirements. Even my commercial checking agreement I had to solemnly affirm that I was a public accomodation. Every bank loan had the same requirements. Every brand name agreement required that I do business with all interested parties.

    Photographers and other service providers have, to my knowledge, no such obligation. They can reject potential clients for capricious reasons or no reason at all.

    Has this person ever signed any commercial agreements? Have you? If so, did you accutaly read the agreement. Just try pulling this ‘religious’ thing to people attending a trade show and see how quickly you get shown the door. And probably sued. Try it in a B&M strip mall and see how quickly the management is on your case. Not to mention the Merchant’s Association.

    I have owned businesses for over 35 years and have seen people pull this ‘religious’ stunt several times. In every case, the ‘religious’ person was ordered to get out immediately. With trade shows, the persons were effectivly barred from all trade shows.

  • Dave

    Will (#83), of course I will continue to “share” in the teeth of the kind of anti-poselytizing posturing you complain about, precisely because it’s hypocritical.

    So, I’ll repeat my sharing-preaching-proselytizing:

    People who use certain arguments, secular and scriptural, against gay marriage are repeating the arguments used by racial segregationists in the 1950s.

  • FW Ken

    People who use certain arguments, secular and scriptural, against gay marriage are repeating the arguments used by racial segregationists in the 1950s.

    Which doesn’t make them wrong in the present case.

    Elizabeth! I thought you closed this thread!

    • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=3978 E.E. Evans

      Good point, I’m not sure how to close the thread except by deleting comments, so I’ve tried to ignore them. From now on, I’m going to delete them, since they haven’t been adding anything to our previous conversation….

    • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=3978 E.E. Evans

      Elizabeth is great. I feel like I know a lot of our commenters, which is completely illusory, of course. If you want to get formal, call me Triple E, or E3.

  • FW Ken

    BTW, since you are reading this, I note you have gone to “E.E. Evans”. Would “Ms. Evans” more appropriate now? I’m an informal western boy, but don’t wish to presume. :-)


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