Faith organizations and individuals who view homosexuality as sinful and refuse to provide services to gay people are losing a growing number of legal battles that they say are costing them their religious freedom.
The lawsuits have resulted from states and communities that have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Those laws have created a clash between the right to be free from discrimination and the right to freedom of religion, religious groups said, with faith losing.
The article lists a few examples, such as a photographer who refused
to photograph a commitment ceremony, and doctors at a fertility clinic
who refused to inseminate a lesbian. The only one that I think I might
have a problem with is a student group at the University of California
that was denied recognition because of its views on sex outside of
“traditional” marriage, but the article is short on specifics.
What these people are saying, as I understand it, is that practicing
their religion requires them to regard certain other people as
inferior, and to deny them the services they offer to most people. In
short, they’re feeling butthurt because the courts are stomping over
their perceived right to bigotry.
The law doesn’t say you can’t be a bigot and a homophobe. That would
be thoughtcrime, which would be unenforceable, apart from the very
abhorrence of the notion of crimethink. The first amendment even gives
you the right to tell that world that gays or blacks or lefties or
Mets fans are inferior. What the law does say, however, is that you
can’t necessarily act on your bigotry. “Your right to swing your fist
ends where my nose begins”, and all that.
IANAL, but as I understand it, if you run a business that purports to
be open to the public, that means you can’t just arbitrarily decide
which groups you will and won’t cater to. That’s probably a gift from
the civil rights movement.
Now, historically, religious groups have gotten a fair amount of
slack, from zoning law exemptions, to tax exemption, to drug law
exemptions. But the US constitution also includes the
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States
The whole point of the bill of rights, the foundation of the freedoms
that we Americans rightly pride ourselves on, is the idea that America
should be a land where everyone has an equal shot at happiness, and no
one is privileged by virtue of noble birth or preferential treatment.
And that means that your freedoms stop when they prevent others from
seeking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
And if your religion requires you keep others down, so much the worse
for your religion.
(Photo credit: Image Editor at flickr.)