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The Bright Side of RFRA

gay-marriage-cake

Both because I’ve been in a particularly busy teaching cycle and because I tend not to pay a lot of intention to state-level politics, I’ve only been following the controversy over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act peripherally. I had the vague sense that it was aimed at legitimating discrimination against gays under the cloak of the Free Exercise Clause and thus was rather disappointed with a headline yesterday morning that Jeb Bush was supporting the law. Until I actually read what he told Hugh Hewitt:

HH: Earlier today, I watched Peter Hamby on CNN, which is on over your head, say that, and I want to quote him correctly, you don’t see a lot of Republicans rallying to Mike Pence’s defense right now. That’s a direct quote from Hamby. He’s a great reporter talking about the Indiana Religious Freedom Act. What do you make of the controversy? Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, great company, had a blast at it in the Washington Post yesterday. What do you think?

JB: I think if you, if they actually got briefed on the law that they wouldn’t be blasting this law. I think Governor Pence has done the right thing. Florida has a law like this. Bill Clinton signed a law like this at the federal level. This is simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs, to have, to be able to be people of conscience. I just think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.

HH: You know, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed in 1993. It’s been the law in the District of Columbia for 22 years. I do not know of a single incidence of the sort that Tim Cook was warning about occurring in the District in the last 22 years.

JB: But there are incidents of people who, for example, the florist in Washington State who had a business that based on her conscience, she couldn’t be participating in a gay wedding, organizing it, even though the person, one of the people was a friend of hers. And she was taken to court, and is still in court, or the photographer in New Mexico. There are many cases where people acting on their conscience have been castigated by the government. And this law simply says the government has to have a level of burden to be able to establish that there’s been some kind of discrimination. We’re going to need this. This is really an important value for our country to, in a diverse country, where you can respect and be tolerant of people’s lifestyles, but allow for people of faith to be able to exercise theirs.

On its face, a very moderate position that starts with the notion that, of course, discrimination against gays is a bad thing. Marco Rubio, who’s much more of a darling of the social conservatives than Bush, took the same tack:

“No one here is saying it should be legal to deny someone service at a restaurant or at a hotel because of their sexual orientation. I think that’s a consensus view in America,” he said Monday on Fox News’s “The Five.”

“The flip side of it is: Should a photographer be punished for refusing to do a wedding that their faith teaches them is not one that is valid in the eyes of God.”

Rubio said the law has sparked a “difficult debate” about how far the laws would go, but he said people should focus more on how the law protects people from being forced to violate their religious views.

Later that day, as Doug Mataconis noted, Indiana Governor Mike Pence called for changes to the law to explicitly prohibit discrimination:

“I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses the right to discriminate against anyone,” Mr. Pence, a Republican, said at a news conference in Indianapolis.

He acknowledged that the law, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, had become a threat to the state’s reputation and economy, with companies and organizations signaling that they would avoid Indiana in response to it. Mr. Pence said he had been on the phone with business leaders from around the country, adding, “We want to make it clear that Indiana’s open for business.”

But the governor, clearly exasperated and sighing audibly in response to questions, seemed concerned mostly with defending the law and the intent behind it, saying, “We’ve got a perception problem,” not one of substance. He referred to “gross mischaracterizations,” “reckless reporting by some in the media,” “completely false and baseless” accounts of the law, and “the smear that’s been leveled against this law and against the people of Indiana.”

“If this law had been about discrimination, I would have vetoed it,” he said. “I don’t believe for a minute that it was the intention of the General Assembly to create a license to discriminate, or a right to deny services to gays, lesbians or anyone else in this state, and that was not my intent, but I appreciate that that’s become the perception.”

Now, as the day went on and I gathered more information, it became clear to me that at least part of Pence’s protest—the last part—is clearly disingenuous. There’s strong evidence that at least some of the major legislative authors of the bill bear strong anti-gay animus. Still, the fact of the matter is that we have three men who are considered contenders for the Republican presidential nomination positioning themselves as foursquare against anti-gay discrimination. Not only is that beyond where Bill Clinton was in 1994 it’s arguably more progressive than Barack Obama in 2008. We’ve come a long way in a short time.

This also puts the controversy in its proper light: the folks who are deathly afraid of selling wedding cakes for or taking photographs at same-sex weddings are in the same category as the folks who are afraid of vaccinating their kids. These are marginalized people outside the mainstream of society. Yet, at the same time, we recognize that the 1st Amendment protections of religious exercise and association given them limited protections against government intrusion.

Decades of court decisions and legislation at the federal and state level require the state to submit to a higher burden of proof in cases where religious exercise comes up against general public policy interests. Parents are allowed to exempt their children from some vaccines but not others. They’re allowed to refuse certain medical treatments for their children but not others. They’re allowed to opt their children out of some parts of the school curriculum but not others.

As I was thinking through some of these issues, Michael Cohen pointed me to yesterday’s David Brooks column, which summarizes that case eloquently:

On the one hand, there is a growing consensus that straight, gay and lesbian people deserve full equality with each other. We are to be judged by how we love, not by whom we love. If denying gays and lesbians their full civil rights and dignity is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. Gays and lesbians should not only be permitted to marry and live as they want, but be honored for doing so.

On the other hand, this was a nation founded on religious tolerance. The ways of the Lord are mysterious and are understood differently by different traditions. At their best, Americans have always believed that people should have the widest possible latitude to exercise their faith as they see fit or not exercise any faith. While there are many bigots, there are also many wise and deeply humane people whose most deeply held religious beliefs contain heterosexual definitions of marriage. These people are worthy of tolerance, respect and gentle persuasion.

Cohen disagrees strongly with Brooks on this point. He believes the latter group are bigots, too, and should be accorded an appropriate level of respect for their views. I split the difference: Cohen is right that anti-gay sentiments based on deeply held religious views are nonetheless bigotry and Brooks is right that “gentle persuasion” is the best way to change the culture. It’s been working amazingly well over the last 25 years or so.

I engaged with Cohen and Joshua Foust in a back-and-forth on Twitter for a bit before having to turn my attention elsewhere.

They’ve persuaded me that Brooks, Bush, Pence, and others are wrong on one issue, at least. Namely, the Indiana version of RFRA goes further than the Federal version of 1994 and those of other states. Mostly, it does so by incorporating the Hobby Lobby logic into the law.

I’m not persuaded, though, by Foust’s argument by analogy to the civil rights movement. Or, more specifically, that we rightly rejected Biblical arguments when it came to slavery, legal segregation, miscegenation laws, and other forms of institutionalized discrimination against blacks and that we shouldn’t allow those arguments to justify anti-gay discrimination.

Three decades or so ago, I studied the history of the public accommodations debate as part of my Constitutional Law coursework. The Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the first Civil Rights Act passed in the wake of the Civil War and the 14th Amendment, on the grounds that individual property rights trumped the state interest in ensuring blacks had access to hotels and restaurants. Nearly a century later, the Supreme Court reversed course in a series of cases litigating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ruling that even mom and pop hotels and restaurants were engaged in interstate commerce and therefore under Congressional purview.

I had a hard time reconciling the notion that a small barbecue restaurant in the outskirts of Birmingham or a fleabag motel in Atlanta were somehow interstate operations. Moreover, my libertarian instincts were offended by the notion that it was any of Congress’ business which customers a small business owner served. Ultimately, I reconciled this by the broadness of the discrimination. That is, if it were just a few retrograde yahoos not wanting to sell sandwiches or rent hotel rooms to black people, they ought to be allowed to be jackasses. But, because there was a systemic problem—even non-bigots in these areas were forced to deny service to blacks if they wanted to keep their white customers—the individual freedoms of the business owner were trumped by the fact that a whole class of people were effectively being denied the right to travel.

Moving forward to modern times, I agreed with the substance of the Hobby Lobby decision but not the particulars. That is, I agree that owners of very small businesses ought to be able to operate their businesses according to their religious precepts but think Hobby Lobby is too big a business to quality. At some point, sheer sizes transforms you from a personal business into a public accommodation.

At an instinctive level (that is, I’m arguing here what I think the law should be rather than outlining the current state of the law) I believe even single proprietorships that operate a storefront open to the public have at least some characteristics of a public accommodation. If someone bakes cakes out of their house and sells them to neighbors on a word-of-mouth basis, they ought be able to decide whom to sell to. If they open up a shop on main street, they ought to have to sell their cakes to black people, gay people, people wearing Muslim headgear, or people wearing Auburn jerseys.

But I do think there’s a difference from refusing to sell your cakes to gay people and refusing to bake a custom cake for a gay wedding. The former is pure commerce, whereas the second could be seen as active endorsement. Given that there is no shortage of qualified bakers who would gladly have the business of Adam and Steve, there’s very little harm to protecting this bigotry from legal action.

If someone wanted to open up a business, call it “Takei-akes,” that exclusively baked cakes for same-sex weddings, on the basis that supporting that enterprise brought him joy and that he couldn’t operate on sufficient scale to supply cakes for the more numerous opposite-sex weddings, it would be absurd to deny him the right to do so on the basis of discrimination. Granted, bigotry wouldn’t be the motivation there. But neither would there be a grounding in a fundamental Constitutional protection, the Free Exercise of religion.

Ultimately, I think Brooks is right. We should move towards a world in which nobody gives a damn whether a man marries another man or a woman marries another woman. We should remove legal barriers to that choice, irrespective of whether a majority of the folks in a local community have religious objections to that choice. We should work to persuade those still holding on to outdated social mores. But the way to do that is to convince them that their understanding of the world is simply wrong, not subject them to legal coercion.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    You can dress it up any way you want. What Pence and Bush are presenting is an updated version of “Hell no, ni**gers can’t sit at the lunch counter.” And it appears to be a popular position among many conservatives.

    not subject them to legal coercion.

    Am I reading you correctly? It sounds like your message to the Greensboro Four is “Hit the bricks”…

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  2. James says:

    But I do think there’s a difference from refusing to sell your cakes to gay people and refusing to bake a custom cake for a gay wedding. The former is pure commerce, whereas the second could be seen as active endorsement.

    Walmart endorsed my son’s birthday. Hurray!

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  3. James Joyner says:

    @anjin-san: No, not at all. If you have a lunch counter, you have to serve gays. You don’t have to cater gay weddings.

    @James: Walmart is a giant corporation. A mom-and-pop is a different animal. That’s both intuitive and well established in decades of law.

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  4. Loviatar says:

    You can dress it up any way you want. What Pence and Bush are presenting is an updated version of “Hell no, ni**gers can’t sit at the lunch counter.” And it appears to be a popular position among many conservatives.

    not subject them to legal coercion.

    Am I reading you correctly? It sounds like your message to the Greensboro Four is “Hit the bricks”…

    This

    And people got offended when I called James Joyner a neo-confederate.

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  5. anjin-san says:

    @James Joyner:

    @ James

    No, not at all. If you have a lunch counter, you have to serve gays. You don’t have to cater gay weddings.

    Ah, so its “You can sit at the counter boy, I can’t stop you. But I’m not baking no damn cake for your daughter’s birthday party.”

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  6. CSK says:

    @James: @James Joyner:

    Walmart has explicitly repudiated Arkansas’s version of the Indiana law, which is expected to be signed by Governor Hutchinson.

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  7. Modulo Myself says:

    I disagree with every word, but I think this is a good post.

    I just can’t believe the nonsense about tolerance. Racial history following the Civil Rights Act is mostly a story about whites who admit that racism is wrong taking extreme measures to make segregation a fact. Somewhere in 1970 a David Brooks was babbling about seeing the other side and being tolerant. Meanwhile the other side was rezoning and setting up new school districts and doing everything they could to make sure that blacks were inferior to whites.

    I don’t think the prejudices are the same. But there should be no mercy offered to prejudice. There’s no wisdom in it, no humanity, nothing.

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  8. anjin-san says:

    I’m still waiting for some “people of faith and conscience” to show me where Jesus preached intolerance and hatred. I can’t find it. What I do find is a message of compassion, tolerance, inclusion, forgiveness, and brotherhood.

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  9. Vast Variety says:

    How many businesses in a town denying service to gay people does it take before it’s considered a systemic problem? I live in a small Iowa town of 8000 people. There is only 1 photography business in town that I’m aware of that takes photos for weddings. If they choose not to serve my wedding because I’m gay then I’m kind of out of options, other than paying for the added expense of an out of town photography service from Des Moines or Iowa City, both of which are an hour away.

    What if all three of the grocery stores in town decide I’m not allowed to buy groceries?

    What if no one in town will rent me a place to live?

    Where do we draw the line between “just a few backward yahoos” and a systemic break down of equality?

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  10. Dave D says:

    We need to protect the religious beliefs of these people to avoid gay weddings when they will gladly bake a cake for someone’s second, third, fourth,fifth, etc wedding because the gendered pronouns are correct. Because Jesus said nothing about gays but was pretty adamant against divorce. What we are seeing here is the same thing we see from the So Cons every time they lose a battle. They spend years working discrimination into law then when that is peeled back they flounder and try again one last time. Then it is they who are truly discriminated against because the jack-booted thugs in Washington are making them serve people who have sexual habits their god said something about 3,000 years ago. I saw a good tweet yesterday from Josh Barro that really unpins all of these states rights arguments:

    “You won the culture war, let us be” really means “You got yours, leave the non-coastal gays to be mistreated.”

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  11. michael reynolds says:

    My son is very active in LGBTQ issues with the Marin County Youth Council, not a wild-eyed radical, but definitely very rigorous. But even from the narrower perspective of youth (almost 18, not quite) he and I marvel together at what has been accomplished in so short a time. It is astonishing. And we the people, we Americans, ought to be pretty damned pleased with how far we’ve come and how quickly. Yes, if we’re down to arguing about gay wedding cakes, I’d have to say we won this one resoundingly.

    I do not feel the need to haul out the guillotines for the last hold-outs. I welcome the late converts. It is time for generosity.

    That said, the Indiana law is nonsense, and as I said yesterday, the backlash that knocked Mike Pence on his ass is what happens when you outsource your policy to the Tea Party. The bigots didn’t all suddenly disappear, any more than racists all disappeared. Vigilance is called for. I frankly don’t think the forces of Mordor have much fight left in them, but you want to keep a close eye out, just the same, and be ready for a counterattack.

    Anti-gay laws – and that’s what this is – cannot be tolerated. But, in the absence of law if Mom and Pop Cake Baker don’t want to bake a cake for a gay wedding, eh, who gives a damn. We don’t need to hunt them down and exterminate them, they’re exterminating themselves.

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  12. Mikey says:

    @anjin-san: Jesus doesn’t show up in the Old Testament.

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  13. wr says:

    It’s great to use gentle persuasion to change prejudice — as long as you’re not in the class that’s being hurt. “Gosh, Frank, I know we want to get married and live our lives together, but Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel thinks it’s wrong, so we must live as second class citizens knowing that his grandchildren might have a different opinion and further generations of gay men may be treated as equals under the law.”

    Funny how when it comes to the horror of using affirmative action to bring minorities into universities and the workplace, none of these straight white men is counseling that things will get better if we all just wait.

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  14. Dave D says:

    Also remember what makes this law so special is that it was passed not just to enshrine discrimination at a small business level, but a personal level within the small business. As to Vast Variety’s post above what if the convictions of the only local pharmacist deny you BC pills. What is the acceptable accommodation for you drive to the next town? Who is really being burdened? The only bright side of IN RFRA is that a church of cannibus opened up with their sincerely held beliefs that they can smoke as much weed as they want and hopefully get a sweet tax exemption. The burden of proof is now on the government to prove their ‘religion” any more bullsh!t than the churchs that somehow took the Gospel of Jesus and turned it into Gays aren’t people I should ever have to take money from.

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  15. al-Ameda says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    I just can’t believe the nonsense about tolerance. Racial history following the Civil Rights Act is mostly a story about whites who admit that racism is wrong taking extreme measures to make segregation a fact.

    People will twist themselves into pretzels to rationalize discriminatory behavior. I am not naïve, I understand that civil rights laws forced people to change their anti-discriminatory behavior, however it did not easily change attitudes.

    @Vast Variety:

    How many businesses in a town denying service to gay people does it take before it’s considered a systemic problem?

    Exactly. Notwithstanding the morality of the law, it’s a lot easier to find another photography studio in Indianapolis than in a much smaller town in rural Indiana.

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  16. John O says:

    Lost in this debate, and what makes it different from racial discrimination, is the fact that we are dealing with behavior and forcing people to accommodate behavior they find immoral is simply wrong – it violates their basic rights of freedom of association. If business owners want to shun those who behave a particular way that is their business – the state has no business intervening.

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  17. Loviatar says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’d have to say we won this one resoundingly.

    See here is where I have to disagree with you, we ‘haven’t won. You can never win against bigotry, you can only hope to push it underground and deny it power.

    Look at civil rights, we thought we had that fight won, but look at the regression thats occurred since Reagan made it ok again to hate on the blacks and browns. You can never win against bigotry.

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  18. MarkedMan says:

    Pence lives inside the Fox bubble and therefore is completely unable to imagine how anyone outside that bubble would react to his nonsense. I mean, did anyone see his interview where he refused to answer 5-10 times as to whether the law allowed someone to refuse service to gays? Indiana business leaders should not be supporting these kinds of bubble-bound fools.

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  19. James says:

    @James Joyner: I wasn’t aware that it was intuitive that bigotry was acceptable as long as it’s in small, artisanal batches.

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  20. gVOR08 says:

    They’ve persuaded me that Brooks, Bush, Pence, and others are wrong on one issue, at least. Namely, the Indiana version of RFRA goes further than the Federal version of 1994 and those of other states.

    … it became clear to me that at least part of Pence’s protest—the last part—is clearly disingenuous.

    I don’t think “disingenuous” gets it done. Brooks, Bush, and Pence are lying, about both the content and the intent of the law.

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  21. Dave D says:

    @John O: Is it ok to turn someone away from business based on their religion?

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  22. Tony W says:

    @wr:

    It’s been working amazingly well over the last 25 years or so.

    I was thinking the same thing about Justice Delayed.

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  23. Joel says:

    @Dave D: @Dave D: Is it okay to refuse to cater for a particular religious gathering? Like, say, a religious anti-abortion rally if you are deeply pro-choice? Or is it for a print shop owner to decline to print religious tracts he finds objectionable?

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  24. Vast Variety says:

    @John O: Religion is a choice behavior that is considered a protected class, so even if being gay was a lifestyle choice, which it is not, you still shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate against it based on the 14th amendment.

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  25. Tillman says:

    @Modulo Myself: Nonsense. Without prejudice, it’s likely we wouldn’t have made it the first hundred thousand years to eventually invent lasting writing. It’s a very human thing.

    And the rest of my comment is outsourced to michael reynolds. Just know my version would have been Christiany, preachy, magnanimity, etc.

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  26. John O says:

    @Dave D:

    No, its not ok. But doing so shouldn’t be illegal.

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  27. KM says:

    But I do think there’s a difference from refusing to sell your cakes to gay people and refusing to bake a custom cake for a gay wedding. The former is pure commerce, whereas the second could be seen as active endorsement.

    Could be seen. As is, subjectively viewed. Opinion, not fact.

    I’ve stated before on other threads that there’s a real ego factor in all this. I have absolutely no idea why there’s this notion of “personal investment” (for lack of a better term) in these things. Does a cook personally endorse your eating habits when he cooks your steak to medium instead of rare as it is a custom order? How about when he alters a dish for someone with allergy issues – can he say “hell no, I don’t support this gluten free nonsense, take your sickness somewhere else” and still have your approval? What makes that cake more important then a birthday cake that special ordered- something that simply means not off the shelf? A custom order could be they wanted sugar flowers, for Christ’s sake!

    For the last damn time, they are NOT participating in the wedding. They are the freaking hired help with pretensions of inclusion and delusions of grandeur. They are not there because they really care or want the world to be a brighter place because LOVE or they’s so attached to the couple they simply must make it the most magical time ever. They are being paid. They are doing a job and will move on to the next job, most likely never speaking again to the couple. They are not important to the process, as anybody who’s ever eloped or got married on the cheap can tell you.

    The waiter doesn’t participate in your dinner and you’d be offended if they decided to plunk themselves down at your table like they belong there. The kid at Xerox doesn’t participate in creating a best-selling book even if they are mass-printing out custom materials for it. A tailor doesn’t participate in your business meetings even if they bespoke your suit. The guy who details NASCAR rides isn’t participating in the race. Why some cakemaker thinks they’re special because they made dough look super pretty and tasty is beyond me but the fact remains they are no different than any other custom business transaction except in their conceited heads.

    (Sorry for the rant but this point really irks me as former customer service…..)

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  28. M1EK says:

    The claim that there is nowhere in the country where gays couldn’t get somebody to bake them a cake if the most bigoted form of the RFRA were enshrined in law is poorly supported and fails most common sense tests.

    People in some states might have to travel hundreds of miles to the nearest appropriately blue big city to find a business that would actually serve them. That’s a non-trivial burden on a non-trivial number of people.

    Possible? Yes. Is that the country we want, though?

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  29. gVOR08 says:

    @KM: Apologies. My old trick of switching to the iPad to give a second upvote doesn’t work anymore.

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  30. John O says:

    @Vast Variety:

    For both homosexuals and heterosexuals, public pronouncements and displays of sexuality are choices. I have known landlords who won’t rent to promiscuous women – should that be illegal?

    The 14th amendment applies to governments, not private citizens. I lean strongly libertarian and don’t like to see homosexual individuals discriminated against; but that is an issue best handled by society and people applying social pressure, not state coercion.

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  31. KM says:

    @gVOR08 :

    Awww… It’s the thought that counts :)

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  32. James Pearce says:

    But the way to do that is to convince them that their understanding of the world is simply wrong, not subject them to legal coercion.

    Some minds cannot be changed. Some people cannot be reasoned with. I accept that.

    That’s why I also accept the “legal coercion.”

    (I will say nothing of the abject ridiculousness of “professional” bakers who must be “legally coerced” into baking cakes.)

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  33. dennis says:

    @James Joyner:

    This also puts the controversy in its proper light: the folks who are deathly afraid of selling wedding cakes for or taking photographs at same-sex weddings are in the same category as the folks who are afraid of vaccinating their kids. These are marginalized people outside the mainstream of society.

    You wrote that, huh? Although it can be said that these two groups are equivalent in that they believe unproven, unevidenced (is that even a word?) stoopid stuff, conservative Christians specifically, and Christians in general, are definitely not “outside the mainstream of society.” Christianity is the majority religion in America, and conservative Christians have taken over an entire political party, making them the norm of society. Don’t make me list example after example by denying this, James; I’m not of the stomach for it right now.

    Second, bringing the public accommodation portion of the ’64 CRA down to a boil: any interest, business or otherwise, providing a public accommodation must provide to the ENTIRE public, not just a cherry-picked, God-chosen few.

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  34. Gustopher says:

    Why should only the religious get this special right of refusal?

    I would be very happy if we got a broad, simple law that declared that no private person was required to support a religious activity — and I would even be willing to lump civil marriage in with this (the private person part means that the government must still do the civil marriage).

    Gays cannot get wedding cakes, and there are no tax exemptions for churches. A fair trade off.

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  35. M1EK says:

    I posted this in a comment on a thread on a (no kidding) sports site; it’s really simple. Profanity removed.

    Business. Religion. Two different things.

    If you want to be a business, shut the f- up and serve everyone that’s a protected class. Smile and take their money.

    If you want to be a religion, be a g-d religion. Don’t be open to the general public. Be as mean as you want to be.

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  36. James says:

    @John O:

    I have known landlords who won’t rent to promiscuous women – should that be illegal?

    Yes.

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  37. Hal_10000 says:

    @Vast Variety:

    Where do we draw the line between “just a few backward yahoos” and a systemic break down of equality?

    I think you’ve just articulated it: when the discrimination becomes a significant burden. If you live in a big city where there are 20 caterers and 18 will do a gay wedding, then I don’t think we should mandate the others do. However, if you live in a small town with only one, then the discrimination law applies. Or if you live in a big city and none of the twenty will do it, then the discrimination law applies.

    As Doug and James have noted, it’s the same logic for why racial segregation in the private sector had to be outlawed despite private property and freedom of association concerns: it was unreasonable to ask black people to wait for a hundred years while “market forces” eroded a uniform edifice of discrimination. Where such an edifice exists (such a small town), the government should act. Where it doesn’t, they should let twerps be twerps.

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  38. Tillman says:

    @KM: Just to go Devil’s Advocate* for a sec, technically those people are all participating. Their participation is slight, but infinitesimal amounts add up. No, the kid making your first novel’s printing at a Kinko’s (that betrays my age) isn’t contributing to the writing of the novel, but she’s definitely contributing to its distribution. (We can argue from dawn to dusk on the merits of outsider art, that’s another discussion.) It’s the same argument Elizabeth Warren makes eloquently about the social contract: every time you travel, the poor schmucks who laid and shoveled asphalt have contributed ever so slightly to your good fortune on that travel.

    By making their break with the social contract explicit, these religious folks (I’d say misunderstanding their own religion) hope to draw attention to their arguments, however stupid those arguments might be. And the fact that people can disagree and be subjective over what counts as “contribution,” even in something as stupid as splitting a check for lunch when you only had salad and some douche had steak, means we should be at least receptive to one another’s lived experiences. That is a progressive value — to properly respect minorities in the culture — and bigots of this stripe are increasingly the minority. That’s the gist of what I got from James’s post.

    * I put that in bold because I realized pretty early on going Devil’s Advocate without announcing such leads people to think you kill babies sometimes. :)

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  39. John O says:

    @James: So the only acceptable criteria for landlords to use in discriminating among prospective tenants are those established by the state?

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  40. Tillman says:

    @Tillman:

    That is a progressive value — to properly respect minorities in the culture — and bigots of this stripe are increasingly the minority.

    To elaborate on this point in response to dennis, and still Devil’s Advocate, I wouldn’t call what conservative Christians have done to the Republican Party a “takeover” by any means. Not unless you think ISIS has taken over all of Iraq.

    No, that is the analogy I’m going with. Christianists (the term Andrew Sullivan used for them) are just a preeminent faction in the Republican Party. The Tea Party succeeded in getting more “true believers” elected if the gossip mill on the Hill during the debt ceiling showdowns was anything to go off of, but there are plenty of businessmen in the Republican Party who hate them, probably more than we do.

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  41. KM says:

    @Tillman:

    Their participation is slight, but infinitesimal amounts add up.

    Touche – this is a fair point, sir. We didn’t build that, indeed.

    However, the ruckus they are raising makes it sound like they are major actors, not the background extras. I find it very hard to concede to their point when they are over-exaggerating their importance to a ridiculous degree. Whatever logically correct point they have is getting lost in sheer asshattery.

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  42. dennis says:

    @M1EK:

    Amen! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

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  43. CSK says:

    Breaking news is that Hutchinson has refused to sign the Arkansas bill.

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  44. al-Ameda says:

    @John O:

    For both homosexuals and heterosexuals, public pronouncements and displays of sexuality are choices. I have known landlords who won’t rent to promiscuous women – should that be illegal?

    Very interesting. Four questions occur to me:
    (1) How did those landlords know that prospective female renters were promiscuous?
    (2) Did promiscuous women make public displays of their sexuality when apartment hunting?
    (3) Did those landlords apply the same standard to promiscuous men?
    (4) Or did those promiscuous male tenants tell these landlords about these promiscuous women?

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  45. Gustopher says:

    Ultimately, I think Brooks is right.

    Really? Really?

    I think anyone typing that needs to step away from the keyboard, go down to their favorite day drinker’s bar, and reevaluate their life.

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  46. Modulo Myself says:

    @Tillman:

    Okay, it’s made by humans. But the happy little tribe of homo sapiens with fears of blacks/gays/Jews would have been crushed by its rivals or poisoned by plants or a million other things. Learning what’s dangerous is not like learning to be wary about the Jewish bankers who rule the world.

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  47. grumpy realist says:

    Good rundown in the New Yorker.

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  48. James says:

    @John O: How about we go with zero discrimination?

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  49. John O says:

    @al-Ameda:My friends tried to use references from previous landlords to evaluate prospective tenants.

    In the 90’s I bought a Chicago two flat, living upstairs and renting the first floor. I sought advice from several landlords I knew; their advice:

    Gay men in a committed relationship are prized tenants. They won’t bust the place up or skip out on their lease and will often leave the place nicer than when they moved it.

    Promiscuous women are poor credit risks and the most likely try and break a lease.

    Young, single heterosexual men w/o a professional white collar job are the worst tenants. Background aside, they are unpredictable – a big risk, both lease-wise and for property damage. Rent to them as a last resort and keep a close eye on them.

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  50. John O says:

    @James: We don’t.

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  51. Tillman says:

    @KM: Oh, most certainly. If they have a logical point at all.

    Far as I can tell, the only good anti-gay marriage argument is the one from tradition, and that gets tossed out the window if you have any understanding of social studies. I guess everyone slept during that class.

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  52. al-Ameda says:

    @John O:

    Promiscuous women are poor credit risks and the most likely try and break a lease.

    I must admit, I’ve never heard that professional women who like to have sex are a poor credit risk.

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  53. Moderate Mom says:

    I spent over a year helping my daughter with planning her wedding, doing everything from choosing a photographer, reception location, the band, the florist, a caterer, the wedding cake to all the other seemingly thousand details that go into a large wedding. And every single bit of it is expensive as hell. I’m convinced that once the word “wedding” is uttered, the price for everything doubles. For all that money, you would prefer that everything is perfect – the flowers lovely, the food delicious, the cake beautiful, the photographs wonderful, etc., etc.

    Based on this, just out of sheer practicality and not any type of religious belief, I can’t imagine forcing anyone that didn’t want to perform these services to do it, only out of self interest. I would be afraid that I would wind up with bad food, ugly flower arrangements and a dry, tasteless cake. I can understand the anger and frustration if vendor options are truly limited, but that’s not usually the case and I would much rather give my money to someone that not only wants it, but wants to do the best job possible.

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  54. Scott says:

    The irony is this: the Brooks approach would work if the Indiana legislature did nothing. Yet, they wrote and voted for a completely unneeded law. They are the ones that brought this on themselves. Their actions are derived from their motivations. Which are abundantly clear to all.

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  55. grumpy realist says:

    @John O: The question is–what’s your definition of “promiscuous.” And how do you identify them?

    My roommate and I shared an apartment on the sleazy side of Beacon Hill the last year we spent at MIT and I swear, we had at LEAST as many guys showing up at our apartment at weird hours as the two call girls did that lived below us.

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  56. James says:

    @Moderate Mom: I think it just boils down to the pain of being told, “We don’t serve your kind here.” Assuming they are even that polite about it. Now, how about wondering that you could receive that treatment at any store you walk into. Just makes you want to run out and plan all those details, doesn’t it?

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  57. grumpy realist says:

    @James: Even if it’s a pizza parlor.

    (Note: on Yelp!, they’re down to one star already.)

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  58. grumpy realist says:

    Whoopsie!

    (Bet ol’ Pence wasn’t expecting THIS twist!)

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  59. Vast Variety says:

    @grumpy realist: Iowa is ahead of you on that… Iowa is going to have a Wiccan perform an invocation at the state house next month.

    http://www.kcci.com/news/lawmaker-talks-wiccan-priestess-invocation-offer/32094202

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  60. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @John O: But does the landlord know apriori that the women are promiscuous or does he discover that women with poor credit ratings (a measurable phenomenon) also are promiscuous (a less measurable phenonenon)?

    Many people confuse the two as being causative (maybe even of each other) when they may just be coincedental. Never the less, one’s credit rating is a legitimate area for evaluation, what one does for a living can be, one’s social life is out of bounds.

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  61. grumpy realist says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker: Everyone born in 1850 is now dead. Everyone born in 1850 also ate pickles. Therefore, eating pickles causes death.

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  62. John O says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker: Why is one’s social life out of bounds? Its my property. If I think prospective tenants will be somehow undesirable or I don’t trust them around my kids or I simply don’t like them, its strictly my decision whether or not to rent to them.

    When I owned rental property 20 years ago I was lucky to have stable, reliable tenants. Some friends of mine weren’t so lucky and they paid for dearly for it through no fault of their own.

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  63. Liberal With Attitude says:

    I think its interesting how Brooks frames his argument in terms of the SSM proponents being “polite”- using gentle social pressure, rather than state coercion, to change things.
    Why does the burden fall on them to be polite, rather than the business owners?
    One of the most fundamental rules of social graces- politeness- is that we all are often called upon to mingle and cooperate with those we find disagreeable.
    The rule of etiquette is to be gracious cooperative to the extent possible.
    So how much of a burden is it to sell something to a gay couple?
    Not very. It is completely appropriate for society to insist that they behave graciously and cooperative, so the rest of us can enjoy the benefits of social cohesion and inclusion.

    I wrote elsewhere that contemporary conservatives have lost not just the battle for a single issue, but they have lost the war for the very definition of conservative.

    On this and other issues liberals are pressing for social cohesion and enforcement of moral norms, while the conservatives are left calling for radical individualism.

    Per John O’s comment above- I expect any day now to see a bumper sticker- “My Property, My Choice”

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  64. Scott says:

    @Liberal With Attitude: Prediction: next claim: property rights have supremacy over other rights.

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  65. wr says:

    @M1EK: “People in some states might have to travel hundreds of miles to the nearest appropriately blue big city to find a business that would actually serve them. That’s a non-trivial burden on a non-trivial number of people.”

    According to the very same people, it’s no imposition to demand a poor pregnant woman travel hundreds of miles to get to a clinic for an abortion — or for prenatal services, for that matter.

    Of course if there’s one place anywhere in the world where these same people aren’t allowed to wave their guns around, that’s Islamic Fascist Communism.

    But as long as it inconveniences that guy and not me… it’s fine!

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  66. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    [quote]Their participation is slight, but infinitesimal amounts add up.[/quote]

    Even that does not hold water.

    We have to remember that these people object to the fact that gays are getting married.

    At the point where wedding photographers and cake bakers come in, the wedding is over. They have absolutely no contribution towards the (according to their religion) objectionable fact that two gays get married. They only contribute to the aftermath.

    They will not be forced to facilitate a wedding. They will be forced to make that wedding a pleasant occasion. So what they want to be protected is either sheer assholery (“I can’t do anything about you getting married but I can make it as un-fun for you as possible”) or their public perception (“People might think I’m endorsing this”).

    Neither is, strictly speaking, a religious objection. The first one is most certainly not and even if we were willing to push for something like “standing in the congregation” to be an actual religious value (instead of merely a result of religious behaviour), it would be a adequately covered by discrimination laws. If you are forced by the state to do this, the fact that you do this is not a sign of endorsement.

    I totally agree that no minister should be forced to perform a wedding. I might be convinced that actually facilitating the wedding might be a problem (limo services etc.) although I’m sceptical. But that is not what is in that bill. And shedding sweet tears about the caterers is definitely a bridge too far for me.

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  67. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: “Where such an edifice exists (such a small town), the government should act. Where it doesn’t, they should let twerps be twerps.”

    So the whole idea of all our laws applying equally to everyone should just be tossed?

    Granted, it’s more a myth than a reality right now, anyway — there are different sets of laws for white and black, for rich and poor. But at least today we maintain the pretense. You want to get rid of that?

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  68. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @John O:

    If I think prospective tenants will be somehow undesirable or I don’t trust them around my kids or I simply don’t like them, its strictly my decision whether or not to rent to them.

    So, using your logic, you should be able to hang up a sign on your rental property saying “no blacks need apply”, or for that matter “no jews” either, and that should be ok?

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  69. grumpy realist says:

    @Scott: Well, not quite. We give a lot of slack to landowners if they want to be picky about who they chose to rent to, given that once an individual is in the apartment it’s very hard to dislodge them legally, especially if they’re paying their rent. Heck, parents can’t even kick out their freeloading children without going through a legal eviction process!

    (Said pickiness doesn’t of course extend to discriminating on the usual bases, but it’s perfectly fine to discriminate on the basis of “I think you’re going to have wild parties and cause holes in the walls” since that’s not a protected class.)

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  70. grumpy realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Now, now, he didn’t say that. Be nice. It’s when that “somehow undesirable” means “someone with dark skin” that there are problems.

    Heck, if I had a drunk and stoned idiot show up loudly demanding that I rent him an apartment I’d kick him out of consideration as well.

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  71. wr says:

    @Moderate Mom: I wonder… how many of the vendors you met with looked you in the eye and said “I’m sorry, ma’am, but your daughter disgusts me. She is an immoral whore will will spend eternity burning in hell, and since God hates her I’m not going to work on this revolting travesty of a wedding” — and had the majority of the state government nodding in appreciation and saying “tell it, sister.”

    Maybe if this actually happened to YOU once or twice you might feel differently. But as long as its happening to people you don’t know, who cares, right?

    Say, weren’t you the one complaining the other day about a poster saying Republicans lack empathy? (Apologies if that was someone else…)

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  72. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Now, now, he didn’t say that

    LOL, yes, he did, here:

    or I simply don’t like them

    I think you’ll agree that there are a lot of prospective landlords who “simply don’t like” African-Americans (or, for that matter, Jews like myself).

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  73. John O says:

    @HarvardLaw92: @HarvardLaw92: I wouldn’t say posting such signs is ‘ok.’ But it shouldn’t be illegal; neither should posting a sign that read ‘no peyote users need apply.’

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  74. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @John O:

    So, you are admitting that you believe you should be able to deny housing to African-Americans based solely on the fact that you do not like African-Americans?

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  75. grumpy realist says:

    Well, it turns out that that God-fearing Christian pizza parlor place isn’t so sure that the same rules apply to divorced couples remarrying. Because the owner himself, you see, is divorced.

    Biggest case of IGMFY I’ve seen in my life.

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  76. grumpy realist says:

    @John O: Now I’m coming down against you. Posting a sign saying that you will not rent to members of a protected class WILL get you in hot water, and it damn well should.

    Don’t discriminate on the basis of sex, religion, race, national origin, (check up to see what other protected classes your town may have created), and you’ll be ok.

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  77. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    This clown doesn’t think there should be any protected classes.

    I wonder how he would feel about me, as a Jew, firing him solely on the basis that he is a Christian?

    Like you said, it’s IGMFY (until “Y” is them anyway …)

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  78. Realist says:

    Is Jim serious? Pence scored an own goal. Now demands “clarification” of a bill that he said, and says, was fine and signed into law. The presidential contenders (those who weren’t in witness protection programs) did a tap dance but essentially far from coming out against the law supported it. Like most “sophisticated” Republicans Jim has adopted the de minimis approach to this PR disaster (the Brooks piece was another of his masterpieces of obfuscation) and tried to hide behind the fiction that it’s really just like the 1993 act which it’s not. This is not the greatest issue in the world but it’s just another piece of the jigsaw that firmly positions the Republican party as bigoted and backward looking. Democrats are enjoying the spectacle as Pence and now Hutchinson in AK try to get the toothpaste back in the tube.

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  79. John O says:

    @HarvardLaw92:I never said anything about denying housing to anyone based on their race. But why shouldn’t property owners be the exclusive decision maker regarding which renters they accept? Who are you (or anyone else for that matter) to tell them what they can and can’t do? Or must do?

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  80. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @John O:

    I never said anything about denying housing to anyone based on their race

    Nor are you denying it. Do you, or do you not, believe that it should be permissible to deny housing to African-Americans based solely on their race? You framed the boundaries of the assertion, so own them.

    Who are you (or anyone else for that matter) to tell them what they can and can’t do? Or must do?

    So now you are asserting that the landlord has no obligation to fix (or to even provide) heat? The plumbing? The electrical service?

    For that matter, you didn’t address my point above. Should be be ok for me, as a Jew, to fire you for being a Christian?

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  81. Liberal With Attitude says:

    @John O:
    Do you think property rights are absolute?
    As opposed to negotiable, with varying degrees of control ceded to the community?

    Most of us accept the idea that property rights are negotiable with the community. The community after all, is the one who establishes their legal and physical boundaries, and defends them against intruders. So we get to have some say in how they are enforced.

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  82. John O says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I believe in freedom of association and in treating people as individuals, not grouping them in classes. Firing/not hiring me because I’m Catholic is both dumb and wrong; that doesn’t mean it should be illegal. Societal pressure and simple economics are much preferred remedies for such behavior, not state coercion.

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  83. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @John O:

    Societal pressure and simple economics are much preferred remedies for such behavior, not state coercion.

    Yea, they did a great job of ending Jim Crow. Oh wait …

    What societal pressure is there to treat African-Americans equally in, say, backwater Mississippi? What economic consequences would accrue as a result of failing to do so?

    For that matter, bringing my own people into the equation, what societal pressure is there in, say, Williamsburg – Brooklyn not to exclude Christians?

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  84. JohnMcC says:

    @anjin-san: http://www.redstate.com/2015/04/01/two-years-later-youll-still-be-made-to-care

    Erick Son of Erick is a seminarian now so he will explain how Jesus condemns everyone who has icky sex.

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  85. grumpy realist says:

    @John O: Dude, go read up on some history of law. Go read some law, period. The reason why we have the rules and protections we have at present is because societal pressure and simple economics did NOT work.

    P.S. Haven’t you heard of “slumlords”? Haven’t you heard of the Triangle Fire? We just had a few fires here in Chicago which happened because the damned landlord decided to not keep the fire escapes in order and totally blew off maintenance of the smoke detectors. How many kids have to die before you realize that “societal pressure” means jack squat to people who only care about money?

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  86. John O says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Jim Crow was state coercion.

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  87. James says:

    @John O: Why can’t I build an addition onto my house without permits? Why can’t turn my back yard into a petting zoo or open it up as a land fill? Apparently I need a liquor license to sell beer out of my basement. Your property rights were never absolute, let’s not pretend that’s what this is about.

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  88. Realist says:

    @John O:
    “Firing/not hiring me because I’m Catholic is both dumb and wrong; that doesn’t mean it should be illegal.”

    So you have no problem with the doctrine of no Jews, Blacks, Irish or dogs. We can reinstate quotas or total exclusion at ivy league universities, clubs, rooming houses, restaurants, etc. and just wait for the market to do its work. Unbelievable but pleased we got that straight.

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  89. Realist says:

    @John O:

    Actually it was voter coercion. Voters elected racists because they were racists.

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  90. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @John O:

    Jim Crow was state coercion

    Really? Then explain to me why, in light of your assertion that the state forced people against their will to segregate, the populace fought so hard to preserve it, if you would please.

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  91. Realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Given the events of the last few years this fellow’s belief in EMT is touching given that it proved totally flawed in purely economic matters, let alone social ones. I think it was Raymond Aron who said it was a denial of the experiences of the 20th century to suppose men would sacrifice their passions for their interests. This sentiment seems particularly apposite when you have people that don’t appear to be all there.

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  92. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Realist:

    I suspect that he is (badly) attempting to use EMT (which I have my doubts he truly understands) as window dressing for “I shouldn’t have to rent to n**gers if I don’t want to.”

    The words may change, but the song remains the same.

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  93. DRE says:

    @John O: Fortunately, your view is just your wish. It is illegal, and has been for 50 years.

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  94. Realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    You’re probably more familiar with him than I since I just showed up today but there definitely appears to be few sandwiches short. The fact he’s disappeared probably says it all. He may have gone for a martini of course.

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  95. Rob Prather says:

    James, you’re a Democrat. It’s time to face that. I did that in 2005. You can too.

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  96. DRE says:

    @Realist: He did a pretty good job of demonstrating what these “religious freedom” types of laws boil down to.

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  97. Realist says:

    @Rob Prather:

    Back in the 60’s I went to a Billy Graham rally (I was not saved I’m happy to say) but alas it’s going to take a Graham like epiphany to shift Jim from god’s path. It’s all about tipping points really rather like the furore over this Indiana nonsense. There’s clearly been a tipping point in the country on gay issues which happened as best I can tell about 7 years ago that has left the Republican party like a beached whale when the tide went out. This is true of so many issues out there. Immigration, global warming, inequality, etc. etc. What’s Jim’s tipping point?

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  98. Realist says:

    @DRE:

    Well that’s the beauty of today’s Republican party and it’s base. By their acts shalt thee know them.

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  99. Tillman says:

    @Realist: We’ve already had defections from the Republican party; the ranks of the Independent have swelled in the last few years (though there are other factors to it). The people left are either valiantly trying to defend a cultural touchstone of their lives (anyone smart voting Republican) or they believe the media bubble and happen to vote a lot.

    Once it becomes obvious there’s no going back, it’ll happen. Of course that sort of change might happen so slowly no one notices.

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  100. Tillman says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius: Sure. I just find it odd that the same essential progressive argument about wealth inequality works equally well in addressing why someone of religious conviction (or sheer assholery) might not want any part of a ritual they disagree with because of those convictions (or their sheer assholery).

    These generally are the sorts of people progressives try to convince on economic matters to their way of thinking, so the fact that such an argument fails in social matters would probably convince conservatives on some instinctive level that progressives don’t believe anything they say and just want power.

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  101. Tillman says:

    :)

    Did no one else notice the article headline says “Bright Sight” instead of “Bright Side”? I’m guessing that’s the idiom James was going for.

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  102. DRE says:

    @Tillman: The same argument does not work at all. All of those minor economic activities add up to a vital and necessary component of larger economic activities. They are not necessary for a marriage to occur. As Ebenezer said earlier, they only affect the ability of celebrants to enjoy it.

    I’d say that you are missing, and thereby highlighting, the primary distinction here. These people are providing an economic service, not participating in a social activity. Economic matters are not the same as social matters.

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  103. jukeboxgrad says:

    James P in the prior thread:

    Discrimination on the basis of behavior is perfectly acceptable.

    John O in this thread:

    we are dealing with behavior and forcing people to accommodate behavior they find immoral is simply wrong

    Number of comments by James P in the prior thread: 22. Number of comments by John O in the prior thread: zero. Number of comments by James P in this thread: zero. Number of comments by John O in this thread: 11.

    Pretty obvious, don’t you think?

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  104. Tillman says:

    @DRE:

    All of those minor economic activities add up to a vital and necessary component of larger economic activities. They are not necessary for a marriage to occur. As Ebenezer said earlier, they only affect the ability of celebrants to enjoy it.

    Are you suggesting marriage in the twenty-first century between people of middle-class means (so, $50k a year in the U.S.) doesn’t become “a larger economic activity”? :) How many weddings have you been to?

    Just to be clear, video gaming as an industry globally is something like $80 billion annually (it eclipsed movies at somewhere around $50 billion annually sometime ago), but the American wedding industry alone is about $70 billion, and the global industry is certainly bigger. (I could only find one estimate that claimed $298 billion but that seemed a little far-fetched.)

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  105. Tillman says:

    (You’d have to either have access to some paywalled sites or be far better at finding information on the Internet than I am to dispute those seemingly-asserted figures, either of which entirely probable.)

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  106. MarkedMan says:

    @Tillman:

    the American wedding industry alone is about $70 billion, and the global industry is certainly bigger. (I could only find one estimate that claimed $298 billion but that seemed a little far-fetched.)

    FWIW, if the US estimate of $70B is accurate, the $298B for the world seems completely reasonable. In many many cultures (including the US) a wedding may be one of the biggest economic activities in a person’s life, certainly in the tip 10. I’ve been to a couple of middle class (not wealthy) Chinese weddings in Shanghai and it sure seemed like the total cost around the wedding exceeded a middle class wedding in the US. Maybe by multiples. And although the percentage of middle class in China is smaller than the US, I would guess the absolute number exceeds the US. And that’s just China.

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  107. Moderate Mom says:

    @wr: No, that wasn’t me.

    Actually, we did have one vendor tell us that she couldn’t help us. Not because the date was taken already, nor that she didn’t like us (although maybe she didn’t). No, she wouldn’t book the job because my floral budget wasn’t at least $5k, and that was her minimum. I thanked her for her time and found a different florist, who did a beautiful job.

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  108. anjin-san says:

    @John O:

    Why don’t you get back to Galt’s Gulch? I’m sure they will let you discriminate to your heart’s content.

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  109. anjin-san says:

    @John O:

    You know what? My religious beliefs are very strong on inclusion and brotherhood. I don’t think I want bigots to be able to do business in my town any more. It’s offends me, and their behavior is immoral. You OK with a law that says I can run them out of town on a rail?

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  110. Tyrell says:

    I am against these laws because they can be used against religious groups, including Christians. I don’t want to be barred from a restaurant, coffee shop, hamburger joint, motorcycle bar, or a convenience store because I have on a Bible t shirt or am wearing one of those nail crosses.
    There are many sincere people who believe that a marriage is between a man and woman. This is usually from their religious beliefs and is certainly not some form of hatred, racism, or “homophobia”. That is not the deal here. They are not against anyone. That would be like someone calling me a racist because I drive a Ford !
    Likewise I would not want a gay caterer refusing to cater my swimming party because I am straight ! But that still would not mean that they hate or even dislike me, or that they are some sort of “heterophobe” !

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  111. gVOR08 says:

    @Tyrell:

    That would be like someone calling me a racist because I drive a Ford !

    No. That would be like calling you a racist because you drive a Ford with a Confederate battle flag license plate and claim God told you to.

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  112. wr says:

    @Moderate Mom: “she wouldn’t book the job because my floral budget wasn’t at least $5k”

    Yes, that’s exactly the same thing as being refused because the vendor calls you an immoral whore who’s going to hell. You should sue.

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  113. Tyrell says:

    @gVOR08: But not everyone who has the so called Confederate flag or car tag is a racist. Some are Civil War enthusiasts. Others are just showing southern pride. That flag is rarely seen today anyway.
    That form of the flag that you are referring to was just one of many used by some regiments in battle.
    As to the Ford reference, at one time Henry had developed a reputation as being mean, unfair, and some said he had racist views . Ford cars had also gotten very bad, just junk. So a lot of people refused to buy Ford products.

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  114. Realist says:

    @Tyrell:

    “Some” didn’t just say. Ford was a notorious anti Semite and bankrolled an anti Semitic magazine. And if you think the stars and bars is rarely seen then your grasp of reality is as shaky as your knowledge of Henry Ford.

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  115. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    As a bit of atonement for my intemperate remarks of late, I’m going to try to take on the role of peacemaker here and offer a bit of a different perspective in hopes of converting some of the excessive heat here into a bit of light.

    I spent a day or two reading up about this on other sites, and I think I have an understanding of the mindset of some of the pro-RFRA side. Further, I think I can relate it in a way I don’t intend to be provocative.

    One of the tenets a lot of Christians hold to quite strongly is “love the sinner, hate the sin.” They consider God’s command to reject no one, hate no one, to hold out hope that everyone can come to feel God’s grace. However, they cannot embrace the conduct of the sinner, even while they offer their embrace to the sinner. It’s similar to the Terms of Service on this site, along with many others: don’t attack the other commenters, attack their arguments, their words, their ideas.

    And yes, it’s a sentiment that is far more espoused than practiced, but it’s still the ideal.

    For the sake of argument, let’s personalize this slightly and use Memories Pizza as a representative of one such business. The proprietor was contacted by a reporter and asked if they would, hypothetically, refuse to cater a gay wedding. The proprietor said she would.

    Note that she didn’t say she wouldn’t serve gay people. If a gay couple were to come into her shop and say loudly, “We’re gay, we want a large pizza, smothered in big, juicy, sausage,” I’m quite certain she’d say “what would you like to drink with that?” She doesn’t have a “NO GAYS ALLOWED” sign on her door, and would never put one up.

    But would she cater a gay wedding? She says no.

    She isn’t discriminating against gay customers. That would violate the dictate of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” She might say a quick prayer out back that the Godless Sodomites would find God’s grace and turn away from their sinful ways, but she would serve them their pizza.

    But catering a gay wedding? Personally participating in a ceremony that celebrates something they see as sinful? That would put them in the position of loving the sin (or, at least, participating in something they sincerely believe as sinful). That would be an affront to their faith.

    The discrimination isn’t against the individual. It’s against an event. And it’s not even discrimination, it’s refusing to participate.

    I know of a halal deli. I’m not Muslim. If I were to walk in and say “I’m not a Muslim, and I demand you sell me a pound of roast beef,’ they would most likely serve me. But if I were to demand a pound of boiled ham, they would refuse that — because their religion says that ham is unclean. (I think they and the Jews are nuts, but that just means more bacon for me.) Their adherence to their religion is causing them to refuse me service.

    And I’m OK with that.

    That’s the mindset I’ve seen, looking around at what others have said. I offer it here in hopes of reducing at least some of the invective being thrown around. And I will keep the tone I have tried to express on this thread.

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  116. Tyrell says:

    There is a local photographer who, a few years ago, started limiting their service to only events that were held at local churches (weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, and other events). This was done because they had been encountering more problems and issues (motorcycle clubs), (drinking and behavior had gotten out of hand) that were making a lot of weddings just not worth the hassle. By limiting work to church sponsored events, they avoid a lot of those hassles, legal issues, and can still pick and choose what to do. Around here there are just a handful of churches.

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  117. Barrr@scre@biz says:

    @John O: “I believe in freedom of association and in treating people as individuals, not grouping them in classes. ”

    These arguments always come down to ‘repeal the CRA’.

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  118. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Tyrell: That’s a rather inventive way to avoid the issue, and I applaud the ingenuity. However, I find myself annoyed that the photographer had to take such measures in the first place.

    What they’re doing is, essentially, outsourcing their screening and security to the church, and shifting the burden on the churches. It seems that the churches are fully aware of that and are willing to take on that burden, and find it advantageous to them in their own way, but it still bothers me that this is necessary.

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  119. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Barrr@scre@biz: I prefer these sentiments:

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

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  120. DRE says:

    @Tillman:

    Are you suggesting marriage in the twenty-first century between people of middle-class means (so, $50k a year in the U.S.) doesn’t become “a larger economic activity”? :)

    Not at all. That’s my point in fact. It is significant economic activity and is fair game to be regulated as economic activity. It has nothing to do with the legal recognition of any type of marriage and therefore doesn’t impinge on religious freedom to object to any type of marriage. The only religious freedom that is affected is the freedom of the those getting married who have to struggle to get businesses to conduct their normal business due to differing religious beliefs.

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  121. Monala says:

    @John O: You should judge behavior that is directly linked to preservation of your property. Someone with poor credit: might skip out on rent. Someone whose previous landlords said they like to party: might trash the place. Someone who is promiscuous: irrelevant to how good a tenant they will be.

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  122. DRE says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    But if I were to demand a pound of boiled ham, they would refuse that — because their religion says that ham is unclean.

    Do you think they would sell a pound of boiled ham to a Muslim? Their business is to sell halal food, and no one is going to require them to sell anything else. Similarly no one is going to force a Catholic priest to officiate at a same sex marriage. But if you have a business that provides a non-religious service to the general public, you don’t get to deny that service to certain “classes” of people, even if it is because of religious differences. Is that so hard to understand?

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  123. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    LOL!

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  124. DRE says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    Yes. Gender and sexual orientation are in the color of their skin category, not in the content of their character. A person who objects to a remarriage for someone who cheated on or beat up a previous spouse could legitimately claim that it is based on the content of an individuals character, but one who bases the objection on the gender of those being married can’t.

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  125. Monala says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: AFAIK, no one in the media originally contacted Memories Pizza (and really, why would they? It’s a small pizza shop in a town of 2,100). The owners contacted the media to proudly announce their support for this law.

    And at least one Indiana restauranteur admits to denying any kind of service to LGBT customers: http://www.eater.com/2015/3/30/8313959/indiana-restaurateur-discriminate-against-lgbt-gay-lesbian-rights. So your faith that Christian business would only discriminate in the event of a gay wedding is misplaced.

    Furthermore, one reporter in Oregon discovered that the bakeries that were so opposed to gay weddings because of their Christian values, had no problem making cakes to celebrate divorces, out of wedlock births, and pagan solstice ceremonies: http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-20698-the_cake_wars.html

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  126. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Monala: AFAIK, no one in the media originally contacted Memories Pizza (and really, why would they? It’s a small pizza shop in a town of 2,100). The owners contacted the media to proudly announce their support for this law.

    That is incorrect. Here is the news story that broke the whole mess. In the introduction, ABC-57 said “We went into small towns tonight for reactions to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. We found one business just 20 miles away from a welcoming South Bend with a much different view.”

    The business didn’t seek out the press, the TV news station sent their news crew about 40 miles to find one business that would say what they wanted to hear.

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  127. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @DRE: Do you think they would sell a pound of boiled ham to a Muslim? Their business is to sell halal food, and no one is going to require them to sell anything else.

    I don’t even understand that first part. I could conceive of circumstances where a Muslim would buy ham (a gift to a non-Muslim friend), but it would be extremely odd.

    Ace of Spades had an even better example. Could a devout Muslim who owned a convenience store refuse admission or service to women who were dressed immodestly? Or other examples: could they refuse to admit service dogs, because dogs are unclean in the Muslim faith? Could a Muslim cabbie refuse to take someone to or from a gay bar?

    Similarly no one is going to force a Catholic priest to officiate at a same sex marriage.

    Considering how previous pledges from gay marriage activists have held up, I’d want that one graven in stone. There are already pushes to take away the tax exempt status of churches that refuse to host gay weddings.

    I don’t endorse the parallel between race and sexual orientation, but a lot of the activists do. And in 1983, the Supreme Court said that churches that racially discriminate can lose their tax-exempt status. (Bob Jones University v. The United States) So if the parallel that is being pushed keeps going, then churches being told to not discriminate against gays or lose their tax-exempt status is definitely on the horison.

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  128. JohnMcC says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The ruling in Bob Jones University v US involved the granting of 501(3)c status to the University (not church). The tax exemption was revoked because the IRS decided to limit “charitable” status to organizations that did not practice discrimination. BJU “while permitting unmarried Negroes to enroll…(denied) admission to applicants engaged in an interracial marriage or known to advocate interracial marriage or dating….” Federal District Court found for BJU but the Appeals Court and later the Supremes found for the IRS. A co-defendant of BJU was a private religious high school, Goldsboro Christian Schools.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/461/574

    So, interestingly from the POV of our present discussion on religious freedom and marriage rights and public accommodations, this case included all three. But BJU isn’t and wasn’t exactly a ‘church’.

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  129. Monala says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Bob Jones University is not a church.

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  130. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Yes, I read it too quickly, and made an error. BJU (a truly tragically amusing abbreviation) isn’t a church, but a Christian private college. Thank you for the correction, and also thank you for the civil manner of correcting me.

    So I would modify my parallel, and bring up halls and other properties owned and operated and used by churches, but not actual places of worship.

    Quite a few churches have such facilities for their events, that they on occasion lease out. I can easily see a future challenge to use those facilities for gay marriages.

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  131. Monala says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I stand corrected.

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  132. DRE says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I don’t even understand that first part. I could conceive of circumstances where a Muslim would buy ham (a gift to a non-Muslim friend), but it would be extremely odd.

    The point is that it makes no sense to compare refusing a service that isn’t provided to anyone to refusing your usual service to someone because of religious differences.

    And in 1983, the Supreme Court said that churches that racially discriminate can lose their tax-exempt status. (Bob Jones University v. The United States)

    I’m quite familiar with this one, as both of my parents went to Bob Jones University. Bob Jones University is not a church. It provides a religious education but denied admission to most non-white students based on a belief that inter-racial marriage was wrong. (Originally all non-whites were excluded, later admitting same-race married non-whites, and finally admitting single non-whites only if they agreed that interracial marriage was immoral). The Supreme Court held that they could be denied Tax-exempt status since the burden of paying taxes because of this exercise of religious beliefs did not exceed the government interest in removing racial discrimination from education.

    The governmental interest at stake here is compelling. As discussed in Part II-B, supra, the Government has a fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education [n29] — discrimination that prevailed, with official approval, for the first 165 years of this Nation’s constitutional history. That governmental interest substantially outweighs whatever burden denial of tax benefits places on petitioners’ exercise of their religious beliefs. The interests asserted by petitioners cannot be accommodated with that compelling governmental interest, see United States v. Lee, supra, at 259-260; and no “less restrictive means,” see Thomas v. Review Board of Indiana Employment Security Div., supra, at 718, are available to achieve the governmental interest. [n30] [p605]

    This same logic would mean that a school that refused admission to gay student might lose their tax exemption, but it says nothing about compelling them to admit gay students.
    It has nothing at all applicable to the tax exempt status of a Church or Clergyman refusing to perform gay marriages, much less to any actual compulsion to do so.

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  133. DRE says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    So I would modify my parallel, and bring up halls and other properties owned and operated and used by churches, but not actual places of worship.
    Quite a few churches have such facilities for their events, that they on occasion lease out. I can easily see a future challenge to use those facilities for gay marriages.

    I doubt that Bob Jones would have lost its tax exemption if it had only refused to allow the use of campus facilities to hold inter-racial marriage ceremonies. It lost the exemption due to refusing to provide the education that it was in the business of providing based on a racial classification, and even then the ruling was tied to a specific compelling government interest related to the nature of the service provided (education).

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  134. MarkedMan says:

    I don’t say this often, but I thought Jenos long-ish description of the mindset of those fundamentalist’s that refuse to cater a gay wedding insightful. Today, in 2015 many of us act like this is a black and white decision (heh. no pun intended). But there is a continuum and that continuum is shifting. For me it is very clear that, say, a taxi driver that refuses to take passengers to a gay wedding should lose their badge. After all, badges are limited and supplied by the government as a public good. Pharmacist’s that decide they don’t want to supply certain legally prescribed drugs because of their religious preferences, maybe a little bit more of a gray area, but not much. However, people who don’t want to cater a gay wedding is well into gray area for me. I don’t think we should generally use a big hammer (passing a law) to solve a small problem. So the question – is this a small or a large problem is relevant. For blacks in the 50’s there is no doubt. Huge problem, wasn’t changing, actually getting worse, and as the Bob Jone’s example above shows, religion was used as a reason for discrimination. Laws were needed.

    What makes this case different is that the Republican’s decided to pass RFRA and alter the language so it was clear they were endorsing the right of business to lock their doors to gays. When they got caught they went into the typical right wing mode of “how dare you suggest that what we were doing is what we were doing?” But once the idiot state congress and the idiot Pence decided they wanted to stick their fingers in the eyes of people on the other side, well, that was a compelling call to action.

    But what is absolutely not fair is hounding and harassing a small business owner because they don’t agree with you, but otherwise sound like they are sincerely trying to deal with this disagreement in good conscience. This McCarthyism of hounding and harassing anyone who steps out of line is ugly when conservatives do it and is no less ugly when liberals do it. And we are in a mode right now where my side is doing it more than the other.

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  135. Tyrell says:

    @Monala: I certainly would refuse to bake a cake or do anything for any pagan group or event. Sick! Disturbed !

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  136. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @MarkedMan: First up, I owe you an apology. Your “down-twinkle” was from me, and from a slip of the finger, not deliberate.

    Second: I don’t say this often, but I thought Jenos long-ish description of the mindset of those fundamentalist’s that refuse to cater a gay wedding insightful.

    I feel your pain.

    What is often forgotten is that no one is a villain in their own eyes, and quite often people will cheerfully tell you what they want, what they believe, why they believe it, and how they came to those beliefs. It’s basic human psychology.

    Most Christians who hold their beliefs very strongly, very closely, and very dearly will be thrilled to explain their beliefs. They, of course, want to convert you, but they’re very open about it and tend to be OK with rejection — as long as you’re polite and civil and respectful. (Which is a basic human obligation, but one that is way too scarce.)

    One need not ascribe their beliefs to listen to them, to understand them, and to respect them. And I personally think it’s something we owe our fellow citizens.

    It’s way too easy to demonize one’s political opponents. Once you convince yourself they really are demons, it’s easy to discredit their stated goals and simply ascribe all the worst to them. And then the next step is to simply treat them as you are convinced they would treat others, had they the power to do so. And it’s so easy to say “they’d do the same thing, or worse, so we are justified in doing this.”

    If I sound like I’m lecturing, I apologize. I certainly don’t intend that, and part of the reason I think I understand this because I am pretty damned good at doing the wrong things myself.

    I don’t agree with their opposition to gay marriage, but I do understand it. And I have no desire to punish them for that.

    As for the “slippery slope” bit I cited, where I can foresee a time when churches will be pressured to give up some of their anti-gay-marriage stances, such as allowing the weddings to take place within their facilities (if not the church proper) and clergy being required to perform the weddings.

    Would you oppose such a move? Would you do so publicly? Would you pledge yourself to a certain line, and no further?

    I’m not asking you to do so publicly, to me and whatever readers might still be here. I’m just asking you to ask yourself, and to remember that pledge. Because there was a time when advocates of gay marriage said that to demand people to participate and support actual weddings was absurd.

    And here we are.

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  137. Tyrell says:

    @Monala: But what if a Jewish caterer refused to serve barbecue as requested and the wedding couple feel they must go somewhere else ? Is that discrimination ?
    We live in an age that is controlled by the pc crowd. So sad.

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  138. MarkedMan says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I can foresee a time when churches will be pressured to give up some of their anti-gay-marriage stances, such as allowing the weddings to take place within their facilities (if not the church proper) and clergy being required to perform the weddings.

    Would you oppose such a move?

    Good question. First, the easy (partial) answer. I absolutely would speak out against a clergyman being forced to perform a wedding ceremony for someone who violated their religious beliefs. Full stop. Well, one exception I can think of. If that clergyman also happened to be a justice of the peace or someone else who’s job involved doing public weddings. If they can’t do them, they shouldn’t have that job. Now the more difficult one: Church facilities. In general I would speak out against a church losing its tax exempt status or any other means of legal coercion to hold gay weddings in their legitimate church facilities. And this despite the fact that I think what they are doing is immoral and further, that I don’t think church’s should be tax exempt in the first place.

    But I am an engineer and have been a project manager so by my nature I look for all the cases where we might misinterpret each other. So here are places where I think we might disagree. First example: There is a megachurch outside of Altlanta that has a health club, movie house,cafe and who knows what else. Basically, to me, it’s just a sham business that runs for-profit enterprises in a tax free fashion by saying “Jesus” a lot. I think it is ridiculous to treat those things as part of a church regardless where they are located and I wish the law would agree. I would also put into this category a church or church hall that is regularly rented out to non-members of the church. That’s a business, not a religious calling and should be treated as such. Second example: Hobby Lobby. Basically a business working in the public arena that wants to claim certain church like exemptions from the law by selectively taking on the trappings of religion. No. They are a public business and should be treated like one. Third, church or religious schools. Insofar as they don’t get tax exempt status or participate in government funded programs (ex: government backed student loans) and they are primarily focused on their religion, then I would treat them like a church. But once they, like Bob Jones U, step into the public arena then they should be treated like any other public arena.

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  139. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Honestly I would really enjoy your contributions here if you just could leave your “and Hitler was totally a nice guy too” bombthrowing shtick for pages where the silly hardcore liberals congregate.

    Thanks for the post man! Keep up the good work :-).

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  140. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius: Honestly I would really enjoy your contributions here if you just could leave your “and Hitler was totally a nice guy too” bombthrowing shtick for pages where the silly hardcore liberals congregate.

    I PROMISED to be nice here, but you’re sorely testing my resolve, because I have this enormous temptation to take that last part and name names. In fact, I have this coppery taste in my mouth from biting my tongue.

    Instead, I’m going to just say “thank you,” and get my mind off beef jerky…

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  141. Tyrell says:

    The practice of churches renting out some of their facilities is a good point. This is a potential mine field in many ways: liabilities, responsibility, clean up, damages, etc. As far as being selective in what groups can rent the buildings, our church was told that as long as the church did not advertise or go through a real estate company, it was free to rent to whom ever. Our rentals were confined to events hosted by members for such events as parties, anniversaries, receptions, etc. Sometimes community organizations would use it for a meeting. In each case a deposit was collected, list of rules was given, and there was an inspection after use. The fee was not large, just enough to cover utilities and supplies.
    In general I would think most people would agree that the government and courts should stay out of the church.

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  142. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @MarkedMan: There is a megachurch outside of Altlanta that has a health club, movie house,cafe and who knows what else. Basically, to me, it’s just a sham business that runs for-profit enterprises in a tax free fashion by saying “Jesus” a lot. I think it is ridiculous to treat those things as part of a church regardless where they are located and I wish the law would agree.

    I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here and present an argument to you.

    To a lot of religious people, separating one’s “religious” life from the rest of their life is wrong. Their faith isn’t part of their life, it’s part of their identity.

    In that context, the church here is reaching out and presenting a religious community that extends the faith and culture outside the walls of the church proper.

    For example, that movie house. I have no idea what church you’re referring to, so I’m purely speculating here, but I would wager that they play a lot of “family-friendly” movies, as well as those films aimed at Christian audiences — the “Left Behind” series, “God’s Not Dead, “Heaven Is For Real,” and the like. And they don’t show films like “50 Shades Of Gray” or “Dogma” or “The Last Temptation of Christ” or “Monty Python’s Life Of Brian” or those types. In that case, one role it is serving is promoting Christian values and giving their members a place where they can go and be comfortable that their beliefs and values are respected and celebrated.

    I could make a similar case for a church-affiliated health club.

    To a lot of the devout, their faith is holistic. It’s always a part of them, and it’s a part of everything in their life. They don’t put it on when they walk into church, and take it off when they leave. And knowing that there are places where they can enjoy the diverse pleasures of life without having to worry that their faith will be insulted, and they can count on being around others who share their values and beliefs, can be quite comforting.

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  143. MarkedMan says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    To a lot of the devout, their faith is holistic. It’s always a part of them, and it’s a part of everything in their life.

    First a side comment: Jenos, you are like a completely different person when you are making a point instead of making an argument.

    Back to your post. I get it. And I don’t think it is black and white. But barring people from public facilities because you don’t like their religion or color or sexual orientation or think they are too dumb or too fat (or too smart or too skinny) is past my personal line. And then asking those people you bar from your facilities to pay extra taxes so you don’t have to pay any is way over my line. And as Hobby Lobby shows, it is a slippery slope.

    In reading your recent comments, I think both of us agree their is a line somewhere. I suspect we disagree on where that line is.

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  144. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    In general I would think most people would agree that the government and courts should stay out of the church.

    …. and I would add, the church(es) should not be imposing their beliefs on the public, in our public institutions, our schools, our city halls, our courts. Why are religious institutions to be given special privileges?

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  145. DRE says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I don’t agree with their opposition to gay marriage, but I do understand it. And I have no desire to punish them for that.

    I don’t care about their opinions about gay marriage, unless they try to impose those opinions on others.

    As for the “slippery slope” bit I cited, where I can foresee a time when churches will be pressured to give up some of their anti-gay-marriage stances, such as allowing the weddings to take place within their facilities (if not the church proper) and clergy being required to perform the weddings.

    There is no slippery slope here. The First Amendment provides powerful protection for the free exercise of religion. The only question is one of balancing burdens. We have a pretty clear body of law that says that providing an economic good or service that you normally provide to the general public for compensation does not create as great a burden on your rights as the denial of that service does on the rights of members of classes that would otherwise face, or have faced, significant discrimination. However, providing a religious service in any way that violates your religious beliefs creates a greater burden than the denial of the service to an individual who is in no way required to obtain the service in order to meet a legitimate need. Losing a tax benefit due to the refusal of the service might be a lesser burden in specific cases but that would require a specific showing.

    The point of all this is, if you accept the balance of burden logic, and the way it has been applied through civil rights laws, there is no need for a “religious freedom restoration act”. Passing or supporting such an act implies a rejection of balance in favor of an absolute right for economic actors to impose their religious beliefs on any that might require their service. (It might alternatively imply a willingness to pander to others who object to balancing burdens in the knowledge that the law will have no effect.)

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  146. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @MarkedMan: irst a side comment: Jenos, you are like a completely different person when you are making a point instead of making an argument.

    As someone who is often (falsely) accused of being one person with more than one identity here, it’s rather refreshing to be accused of being one identity with more than one person behind it. So thanks.

    For me, there should be a balancing in the issues. Some baker doesn’t want to make the cake for your gay wedding? Not to stereotype, but there isn’t exactly a radical underrepresentation of gay people in the professions that serve weddings. Having to find another baker or caterer won’t likely be a tremendous burden. On the other hand, being coerced into supporting an event that you have profound and sincere objections to tends to be more significant.

    To me, a wedding should be a happy event, about the couple and their future. To turn that into making some kind of political statement seems, to me, a bit…. well, tacky.

    And sad. I freely admit I’m a political animal (but taking baby steps towards recovery), but even for me that’s a bit much.

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  147. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @al-Ameda: …. and I would add, the church(es) should not be imposing their beliefs on the public, in our public institutions, our schools, our city halls, our courts. Why are religious institutions to be given special privileges?

    I’ve noticed that when a lot of people say impose, they would be better served saying expose. To me, “impose” has an element of coercion and force in it. If someone is making me see some aspect of their beliefs, that’s not an imposition. If they are trying to make me comply with those beliefs, then that is.

    There are circumstances where that is acceptable. Such as putting on a yarmulke when entering a synagogue — it’s their place, their rules, and it doesn’t really cost me anything.

    But if there is a genuine imposition involved, I get annoyed. (I’m being polite and mild here. “Annoyed” is an understatement.) For example, it’s a tenet of the Muslim faith that one should not depict Mohammed in any way. It’s become literally a mortal danger for anyone, even non-Muslims in non-Muslim nations, to draw a picture of Mohammed. That, to me, is an imposition.

    On the other hand, if some Catholic wants to tell me how sinful it is to use contraception, that’s not an imposition. They are annoying me, but they aren’t trying to force me to abide by their beliefs.

    So it depends on how you define “impose.” How do you define it?

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  148. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    To me, a wedding should be a happy event, about the couple and their future. To turn that into making some kind of political statement seems, to me, a bit…. well, tacky.

    How is asking a bakery to bake a cake for your event more of a political statement than refusing to bake the cake because you object to the wedding?
    I know I’ve asked you this before, but do you think it should be legal for that same baker to refuse to sell cakes for interracial or interreligious weddings? Should it be legal for them to refuse to bake cakes for weddings for people of ethnic or religious backgrounds they don’t approve of? No cakes for Catholic weddings or no cakes for Asian weddings for instance.

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  149. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    On the other hand, if some Catholic wants to tell me how sinful it is to use contraception, that’s not an imposition. They are annoying me, but they aren’t trying to force me to abide by their beliefs.

    When said Catholic (or evangelical, etc) tries to make contraception or abortion illegal or near impossible to get when legal that is an imposition.

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  150. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: How is asking a bakery to bake a cake for your event more of a political statement than refusing to bake the cake because you object to the wedding?

    Asking? No. “Asking” means that one has a choice in complying or not. “Asking,” followed by “do it or I’ll see you in court” is a demand.

    Personally, I’d get more satisfaction out of leaving, finding another baker willing to take my money, and telling everyone I could find just what happened with my first choice. I sure as hell wouldn’t want my wedding cake made by someone who I had to force to comply. For one, I’d be paranoid about how the cake turned out after being made by a disgruntled baker, and I’d rather not have that to worry about on top of everything else.

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  151. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    What I’m curious about here is your anger about the political statement of the couple getting married and your apparent support of the political statement made by the bakers. You’ve also failed to address the effects on the couple if all of the bakeries in a given locale refuse service to their wedding. This is not at all difficult to see happening in large swaths of the South and MidWest, particularly in rural areas. What is your answer for people there? Move?

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  152. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: hen said Catholic (or evangelical, etc) tries to make contraception or abortion illegal or near impossible to get when legal that is an imposition.

    Contraception? Yeah, I can see that. But opposition to abortion can be motivated by moral concerns not based in religion.

    Several of the Ten Commandments are reinforced by civil laws. “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” just to name two. Should we repeal laws against murder and theft because they can be supported by religion?

    Note that I’m not interested in a debate about abortion here. And I’m not asking you to accept the arguments against abortion. I’m just asking you to acknowledge that the arguments do not necessarily come strictly from religion, and that they do have a certain validity. I would respect you more if you said that you thought that the pro-choice arguments were more valid than if you were to insist that the pro-life side holds no legitimacy.

    I think that there are people of good conscience and sincere belief on both sides, and in general respect their declared positions and motives. That doesn’t mean that I agree with both sides (and I’ve been very careful to avoid actually expressing my personal opinion,.

    Hell, I’ll be even more candid. As noted, I have a pretty strong “devil’s advocate” instinct, and the pro-choice side is very thoroughly represented here. I have, repeatedly, worked to present the pro-life arguments that I think have the best chances of being listened to without ever saying that they are my beliefs. I don’t do that because I necessarily believe in them, but because I think that an honest discussion on the topic demands that the best arguments from both sides be presented.

    All too often such arguments are presented as “I believe in X because it’s the right position and I’m a good person, but those who believe in Y do so because they are bad people and just want to do bad things.” And in abortion, that’s especially prevalent on both sides. (Around here it’s mainly the pro-choice side that does it, but I’ve seen plenty of the other side do it, too.)

    I can present both sides’ arguments, and I can do so both respecttfully and insultingly. I’d rather not do the latter, as there is no shortage of candidates who can do it, and from a position of sincere belief that I can only try to fake, but I can do it.

    OK, that was way, way too many words in response to a single sentence. But I wanted to make it clear that I was taking seriously both your words and my pledge to be civil and respectful on this thread.

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  153. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: The wedding isn’t necessarily a political statement. Insisting on who makes the cake, regardless of their personal beliefs and preferences, is.

    In this case, the baker isn’t insisting they get married. The baker’s just refusing to participate. But the customer is doing the demanding.

    If it was my wedding, I would want all the participants to want to be participating, or at least indifferent (say, the chair rental company). Why would you want someone participating who had to be forced to do so? What would you be achieving by doing so? What would their unwilling participation add to your happy event?

    Seems to me that would be a political event in and of itself.

    And I’d want someone to taste that cake before I ate it.

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  154. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I’d also like to note that this latest round of controversy was triggered by a TV reporter going to a pizza place in a tiny town 20 miles outside a city and asking them, theoretically, if they’d cater a gay wedding.

    This brings up a host of questions.

    1) Who the hell would want a pizza place to cater their wedding?

    2) How much of an inconvenience would it be to find another caterer who’d be thrilled to take this hypothetical couple’s money?

    3) Seriously, who the hell would want a pizza place to cater their wedding? Apart from, maybe, someone who owned a stake in a dry-cleaning business…

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  155. DRE says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The wedding isn’t necessarily a political statement. Insisting on who makes the cake, regardless of their personal beliefs and preferences, is.
    In this case, the baker isn’t insisting they get married. The baker’s just refusing to participate. But the customer is doing the demanding.

    The baker normally makes cakes for weddings. People getting married normally order wedding cakes. If the baker provides the wedding cake as normal, without opining on the wedding, then no one is making a political statement. However if the baker decides that it’s his business to pass judgement on the wedding before he provides the cake, he is making a political statement. Whether those ordering the cake respond by walking away or by making a point in response, it is the baker who has turned an ordinary transaction into a political issue.

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  156. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @DRE: There’s an old saw: in a bacon and eggs breakfast, the chicken was involved, while the pig was committed.

    In this case, the particular baker participating in this event, the customer is involved, but the baker is committed.

    Here’s another old saw: there can be no offense given when none is taken. This becomes a political disagreement when the customer chooses to take such offense at the refusal that they are willing to use the full force of the government to compel the baker to make that cake, dammit, and it better be perfect or else.

    By the way, if you’re curious to see how a variety of Muslim bakeries — who actually make custom wedding cakes as part of their business — react to a request for a cake for a gay wedding, see here.

    Personally, I think the Muslim bakers were within their rights to refuse to make the cake. Note that none of them were overly rude to the customer, and many suggested alternate bakers. (Since this was in Dearborn, MI, none of those alternate Muslim bakers would comply, either, but at least they weren’t insulting about it.)

    However, I would be quite curious to hear how you, Grewgills, and others from this thread feel about this video, and the bakers featured in the video.

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  157. DRE says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’d also like to note that this latest round of controversy was triggered by a TV reporter going to a pizza place in a tiny town 20 miles outside a city and asking them, theoretically, if they’d cater a gay wedding.

    No, the controversy was triggered by Indiana passing a law that was widely interpreted to allow discrimination based on religious beliefs. Whether or not that was the either the intent or affect of the law, that is what you have been defending.

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  158. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Oh, and if anyone is interested in a fascinating look into a truly rare mindset, here’s a devout (and covert) Christian who is also a professor at an elite law school discussing how he sees his faith being seen and treated on campuses. It’s a hell of a read.

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  159. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @DRE: The specific example is, of course, a subset of the larger story. And even the Indiana law is also a subset of the larger issue of gay marriage, which is a subset of gay rights.

    And even that is a subset of the age-old argument of how to resolve when assertions of rights come in conflict. The hypothetical baker has their rights, the hypothetical would-be customer has theirs, and they are in conflict. That is not disputable.

    The dispute is over whose rights should prevail.

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  160. DRE says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    However, I would be quite curious to hear how you, Grewgills, and others from this thread feel about this video, and the bakers featured in the video.

    OK, I’ll tell you. It appears to me that the baker was perfectly willing to provide a regular cake, but was unwilling to write something on the cake that he found unacceptable. That is a different matter entirely. He is not refusing service to a class of people he finds immoral, he is refusing a specific service that he would not provide to anyone. This is just about the same as your earlier reference to a Halal deli refusing to sell ham. No one is going to be forced to do anything that they don’t do as a regular part of their business. I don’t care what a baker believes about gay marriage, he does not have a religious objection to baking and selling cake, and that is all he is required to do.

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  161. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @DRE: Sorry, I disagree.

    Their business includes making custom wedding cakes.

    They were being asked to make a custom wedding cake.

    His objection was on the content of the message.

    That objection was based on his religious beliefs.

    Even when Crowder was willing to compromise and accept “Steven and Ben Forever,” they refused.

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  162. DRE says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    There’s an old saw: in a bacon and eggs breakfast, the chicken was involved, while the pig was committed.
    In this case, the particular baker participating in this event, the customer is involved, but the baker is committed.

    You have this exactly backward. The customer is getting married, which is a life changing and highly significant event. The baker is selling a wedding cake, something he has done many times before, and he will go on to sell many more wedding cakes, none of which will create any further legal obligation to the buyer.

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  163. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Contraception? Yeah, I can see that. But opposition to abortion can be motivated by moral concerns not based in religion.

    It is possible, but that is not the rationale used by catholics and evangelicals when they protest in front of planned parenthood and other places that provide abortions along with other services. They are making explicitly religious arguments in virtually every case I have seen.

    Several of the Ten Commandments are reinforced by civil laws. “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” just to name two. Should we repeal laws against murder and theft because they can be supported by religion?

    Those are the only two other than, in some circumstances, not bearing false witness. Adultery hasn’t been illegal for a while, honoring your parents and coveting property haven’t ever been illegal in the US and the remaining four are explicitly religious. The idea proposed by some Christians that our national ethic rests on the commandments is ridiculous. (I realize this isn’t the argument you are making, but it annoys nonetheless.) The 10 commandments have no bearing on the laws of this country. The prohibitions on murder, theft, and in certain cases lying existed long before the religions of Abraham, existed alongside them in almost all other cultures and were in no way instrumental in forming the constitution or laws of this land.
    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The wedding isn’t necessarily a political statement. Insisting on who makes the cake, regardless of their personal beliefs and preferences, is.

    In this case, the baker isn’t insisting they get married. The baker’s just refusing to participate. But the customer is doing the demanding.

    The baker by refusing service based on his (political and religious) opinion of their marriage is making a loud and clear political statement. Can you not see that?
    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’d also like to note that this latest round of controversy was triggered by a TV reporter going to a pizza place in a tiny town 20 miles outside a city and asking them, theoretically, if they’d cater a gay wedding.

    Their bigoted stance is paying off for them. Their GoFundMe has made over three quarters of a million and growing. Apparently it pays to be a bigot.
    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    The muslims are just as wrong as the christians and anyone else that denies service because of bigotry, whether inspired by religion or any other source.

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  164. DRE says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Sorry, I disagree.

    You don’t get to disagree as to what I think, which is what you asked for. I’m telling you that I think that a baker is within his rights to refuse to write a particular message on a cake if he finds the content offensive. At that point the burden on rights has shifted. The customer is perfectly capable of writing the message if necessary. In the normal scope of business, I’m sure that bakers refuse many specific requests. I would be amazed if any court were to find a civil rights violation based on that refusal.

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  165. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @DRE: You’re misunderstanding my point. The wedding will go on regardless of who makes the cake. (I’m assuming that the couple won’t cancel the wedding just because the cake isn’t from Cakes By Joey Lugnuts.)

    In the grand scheme of the wedding, the maker of the cake is of very low importance. Even the presence of a cake at all is not that important. It’s certainly not mandatory.

    Would you refuse a free Ferrari if the valve cap on one tire was missing? Would that totally ruin the car for you?

    I will repeat my point, a bit more clearly: in the case of the maker of the wedding cake, the baker is committed. That cake represents their full participation in the ceremony.

    But the couple is involved. They’re getting married regardless of who makes the cake, or even if there’s no cake at all. The may want a Cake By Joey Lugnuts, but they’re still gonna get married even if Joey says “thanks, but I think I’ll pass.”

    Here’s a thought that just occurred to me. If this sort of situation was so likely to happen, and I were a baker who had no problem with gay weddings (well, I got the latter down cold, but do NOT ever eat anything I prepared), I’d go around to all my competitors and ask them if they had a problem doing cakes for gay weddings. I’d give each of them a stack of my cards and say that any customer they refer to me for a gay wedding cake will get a 5% discount, and I’d give the referring baker a 5% kickback referral fee.

    Hey, look! Bakers don’t have to make cakes for weddings they don’t approve of. Happy couples get a discount. And I get business I wouldn’t get otherwise. Everybody wins! (Except the lawyers, of course, but that’s another win in my book.)

    On the other hand, if I find that there are almost no bakers who won’t make cakes for gay weddings, then I’m out the cost of the business cards and my time going around. No great loss.

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  166. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @DRE: By saying “I disagree,” I mean that I disagree with your opinion. I certainly don’t mean to say “you’re wrong,” and I would not have you take offense when I intended none.

    If you’ve seen me on other threads, I have no problem with being offensive when the spirit moves me. But here, I am going to great lengths to not give offense. I assure you that any offense you may find will be inadvertent, and certainly not intended. I ask you to give the benefit of the doubt, should you think that I am trying to insult you, or anyone else, on this thread.

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  167. Grewgills says:

    Could someone please fish my comment from moderation?

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  168. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: On a Friday evening? I doubt it. It’s nothing short of a miracle that I’m still sober. And that’s an… impermanent circumstance.

    The most common reasons for moderation are excessive links and naughty language. My method in such cases is to break up the comment so each segment has no more than two links, or paraphrase/misspell the bad words to evade the filters. Or, in some cases, both.

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  169. Grewgills says:

    My comment from moderation minus the links to the posts they were responding to:

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Contraception? Yeah, I can see that. But opposition to abortion can be motivated by moral concerns not based in religion.

    It is possible, but that is not the rationale used by catholics and evangelicals when they protest in front of planned parenthood and other places that provide abortions along with other services. They are making explicitly religious arguments in virtually every case I have seen.

    Several of the Ten Commandments are reinforced by civil laws. “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” just to name two. Should we repeal laws against murder and theft because they can be supported by religion?

    Those are the only two other than, in some circumstances, not bearing false witness. Adultery hasn’t been illegal for a while, honoring your parents and coveting property haven’t ever been illegal in the US and the remaining four are explicitly religious. The idea proposed by some Christians that our national ethic rests on the commandments is ridiculous. (I realize this isn’t the argument you are making, but it annoys nonetheless.) The 10 commandments have no bearing on the laws of this country. The prohibitions on murder, theft, and in certain cases lying existed long before the religions of Abraham, existed alongside them in almost all other cultures and were in no way instrumental in forming the constitution or laws of this land.

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The wedding isn’t necessarily a political statement. Insisting on who makes the cake, regardless of their personal beliefs and preferences, is.

    In this case, the baker isn’t insisting they get married. The baker’s just refusing to participate. But the customer is doing the demanding.

    The baker by refusing service based on his (political and religious) opinion of their marriage is making a loud and clear political statement. Can you not see that?

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’d also like to note that this latest round of controversy was triggered by a TV reporter going to a pizza place in a tiny town 20 miles outside a city and asking them, theoretically, if they’d cater a gay wedding.

    Their bigoted stance is paying off for them. Their GoFundMe has made over three quarters of a million and growing. Apparently it pays to be a bigot.

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    The muslims are just as wrong as the christians and anyone else that denies service because of bigotry, whether inspired by religion or any other source.

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  170. DRE says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I’m not taking offense, I’m trying to point out that I am not arguing for an absolute. I am arguing for a balance of burdens. My problem with most of this debate is that the defenders of the Indiana law, like the “closeted christian” law professor want to claim that anything other than an absolute concession to their religious beliefs is an absolute denial of them. “Poor baker has to sell a cake to someone he doesn’t approve of, that denies his right to have an opinion about the validity of his wedding”. What civilized society (and US law) requires is a balancing of burdens on rights. The baker has the right to his religious belief, and the customer has the right to be given normal service. The question is a balance of burdens. If all the baker has to do is sell a cake, that’s not much of a burden. If he has to write something that he finds offensive that is a significant burden. If the customer has to comply with the bakers moral code in order to get normal service, that is a heavy burden. If the customer has to accept the bakers limits on what he is willing to write on a cake, that is not that great a burden.

    All of that being said, the wedding that is at the center of the issue is of vastly greater importance to the customer than to the baker, so I personally believe that the baker is a self-important ass if he refuses to just sell a cake. It is the baker that is basing his position on an opinion about the customer’s morals rather than his own. The customer just wants to buy a cake and is willing to let the baker live his life as he chooses. I fail to see how any rational person can feel that the baker is the one imposed upon.

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  171. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: So much to respond to. In no particular order:

    1) The pizza shop didn’t set up the GoFundMe site, Dana Loesch did. And I see it a bit like the Chick-Fil-A “buycott” — people who were angry about how the company was being treated (Memories Pizza got quite a few death threats) deciding to counter the economic harm being inflicted by the Social Justice Warriors.

    2) The “they’re making a religious argument, and therefore it doesn’t count” works if you’re having a debate with just that party. That they aren’t making the other arguments doesn’t discount those arguments. I don’t care who makes the arguments, and why — I care about the points being made. And the non-religious arguments are valid, in my opinion. What’s debatable is how much weight they carry against their counterpoints.

    3) I don’t see the baker as “making a loud and clear statement.” They’re not taking out an ad or making some big statement. They’re just carrying out their business, as they see fit. Unlike us, not everyone else sees politics in every single thing they do.

    It seems you’re arguing in absolutes. You even use absolute language — your line about “Apparently it pays to be a bigot” is… out of character for this thread.

    I don’t see this as an absolute. I think both sides have rights, and I weigh the various factors. As I said, I look at the particular circumstances and try to find a way to compromise. A way for both parties to feel like they aren’t being crapped all over, with the full force of the government aiding and abetting in the crapping-on.

    If for no other reason that it avoids getting either side so angry that they find other ways to lash out and escalate the fight. In this case, suppose the baker, under threat of lawsuit, says “screw this” and makes a crappy cake. Not poisoned, or anything, just crappy. And if the couple sues? The baker’s reputation is already shot, and the Social Justice Warriors have made it clear that even “unconditional surrender” won’t take you off the enemies list. You’re there forever. So why not go out with a bang?

    After all, from your perspective, these are bigots and haters and in general awful people. Why wouldn’t they take a little revenge on the people who ruined their lives?

    That’s what I want to avoid. That’s why I argue as I do. I agree with your goals; I reject your methods. And I respect you enough to try to persuade you by showing why I reject those methods.

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  172. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    1) What actual economic harm was done to the small town pizza place. I’m guessing $750K is better than they typically do in a year.
    2) The point was about religious people imposing their beliefs on others. If the arguments they are making to limit someone else’s freedom is religious that qualifies.
    3) When they say, “I’m not baking your cake because I don’t approve of your marriage” they are making a political statement whether they mean to or not..

    It seems you’re arguing in absolutes. You even use absolute language — your line about “Apparently it pays to be a bigot” is… out of character for this thread.

    How is pointing out their bigotry being absolutist? How else would you characterize their position?

    I don’t see this as an absolute. I think both sides have rights, and I weigh the various factors. As I said, I look at the particular circumstances and try to find a way to compromise. A way for both parties to feel like they aren’t being crapped all over, with the full force of the government aiding and abetting in the crapping-on.

    Your preferred solution is not a compromise. Your preferred solution is for the couple getting married to suck it up and go somewhere else. How are the bakers making any compromise whatsoever in your preferred solution?

    After all, from your perspective, these are bigots and haters and in general awful people. Why wouldn’t they take a little revenge on the people who ruined their lives?

    ??? They are bigoted against homosexuals. Beyond that I don’t know much else about them. I’m not sure where you’re dredging up the rest of this. As for revenge, what are they getting revenge for? How would baking a cake or not baking a cake ruin their lives?

    That’s what I want to avoid. That’s why I argue as I do. I agree with your goals; I reject your methods.

    What are my methods that you disagree with?

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  173. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    My apologies for my absence. I have certain… ongoing health issues and other obligations. (Alcohol might have also been involved. It’s kind of blurry.) But I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, and if you’ll indulge a bit of a “reboot,” I’ll back up a bit.

    First, I want to dump this hypothetical baker and look at two concrete examples. The fist is Memories Pizza, the second is Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, WA. The owner, a 70-year-old woman, was asked by a longtime friend to provide flowers for the friend’s same-sex wedding. The owner said she couldn’t do it in good conscience, but recommended another florist. The friend got (apparently excellent) service from that other florist, but complained about it on social media. The Washington State attorney general’s office got wind of the complaint and sued the florist under Washington’s anti-discrmination law. The AG won, but the actual fines/damages have yet to be set. (And there’s a Kickstarter campaign going to raise money for her charges.)

    I think that’s a fairly objective description of the situation, but I also think I’ve given enough details for you to check for yourself if you like.

    Now let’s talk about the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, and I’m going to make a parallel and a contrast, and I don’t think you’re going to like either. But I’ll ask you to bear with me.

    First up, I’m going to compare the pizza place and the florist to the civil rights protesters. But not on a moral basis. Hell, I’ve said that I think that they’re wrong. Instead, on the consequences they’re dealing with.

    The civil rights protesters were breaking existing laws. That’s not debatable — that was their whole point. They broke the laws, and were punished for doing so. But the penalties were grossly out of proportion for the nature of the offense. (Yes, the laws were unjust and needed to be taken down, but even if the laws were appropriate, the penalties — both formal and informal — were grossly out of proportion.)

    I see the modern cases as similar. A pizza place in a tiny town was asked by a reporter from the nearby big city if they would cater some hypothetical gay wedding. Note that there was no actual wedding, and who the hell would want a pizza place to cater a wedding anyway? The result was a nation-wide backlash that threatened to shut the place down. There were even bomb and robbery threats.

    The florist? She politely declined, the wedding went on with just-fine flowers. And now she’s also facing being shut down. Again, I think that’s out of proportion for the offense.

    Now for the contrast, the non-parallel. The civil rights movement was fought against an overwhelming culture. The South was overwhelmingly racist, and the civil rights movement was going up against serious opposition and not a little actual danger. People were hurt, people died in the struggle.

    With the gay rights movement, that stage is long over. There is no overwhelming opposition to gay rights now. We’ve reached the point where if someone makes an anti-gay remark in public, they are immediately pilloried. Mel Gibson is still pretty much blackballed. Hell, a would-be NFL player came out, and it was actually a career positive — it got him breaks he wouldn’t likely have gotten if he hadn’t come out.

    As far as I’m concerned, the fight is over. The good guys won. The question is, do we want to keep pressing for unconditional surrender and the total destruction of the other side, or do we want to just let them die out from natural causes?

    Look at the two (very real) examples. They didn’t involve people going out looking to make a stand. They didn’t involve people looking to make (or preserve) a big effect on society. Their only concern was limited strictly to their own immediate circumstances, and didn’t go looking for their situations — they came to them. And they weren’t even rude or confrontational or aggressive about it; they were polite and civil.

    These are not the kinds of brutal oppressors from the 1960’s South. They’re small people, living small lives, trying to abide by their sincerely-held beliefs. Most importantly to me, they aren’t arrogant about their beliefs. They don’t put down or threaten or show any kind of hostility when they refuse service, and they even offer alternatives. And that’s the kind of thing that I can respect and appreciate, even while I disagree with them. They aren’t going all-out, demonizing the other side and calling down the wrath of God on their enemies. (OK, maybe not quite the right metaphor in this case, but I think you know what I mean.)

    Good God, I’m wordy. My thanks if you waded through all this.

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  174. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Did you really just try to compare the people who refused people service because of their bigotry to civil rights protesters?

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  175. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: Yes, I did. On a very narrow basis, not on the morality of their cause, but the consequences suffered vs. the magnitude of their actions.

    I thought about mentioning a second parallel — how both were acting in service to their conscience while understanding that they were going up against a significant majority which has demonstrated a tolerance (at best) for draconian retaliation, but thought that it would be difficult enough for you (and others) might get hung up on making a moral comparison, even though I explicitly said that I was not comparing the two on a moral basis.

    Did I ask too much of you to consider the comparison on strictly limited grounds? I knew it would be a challenge, but I was hoping you’d be willing to stretch a little. I think that the comparison, on that basis I defined, was valid.

    Personally, I enjoy such exercises. They’re kind of like aerobics for the brain, and they force one to think about things in new and different ways. And sometimes you get some interesting results. This one started when I saw someone say that the gay rights activists/civil rights activists parallel is flawed because the civil rights people were David fighting Goliath, while this time the activists are Goliath. That struck me as accurate, and it stuck with me and went through quite a few permutations and variants in my head until I wrote the above.

    In a nutshell, yes, I did make the comparison, and I stand by it. And I hope you don’t get so hung up on an aspect that I explicitly did not make that you can’t go any farther.

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  176. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Comparing people fighting against oppression with those fighting to maintain it is in poor taste, even on that narrow basis. The people fighting against Jim Crowe weren’t disproportionately punished, they were entirely unjustly punished by unethical laws. The people denying services to homosexuals, while now in a narrow national minority, are generally in a comfortable local majority. The only legal sanction they face is relatively limited financial punishment. They may also face legitimate threat of boycott. The threats of violence made against the pizza place were a long way over the line, but still are FAR less consequential than the ACTUAL violence faced by the freedom riders. Your comparison fails on every level.

    You still haven’t answered any of the questions I posed to you in my comment of Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 00:29. I’m particularly interested in knowing what compromise you think the bakers, pizza place etc should be making. You said there should be compromise, but thusfar you have said that compromise means the businesses being allowed to refuse service without consequence and the homosexuals finding somewhere else no matter how far they might have to travel to do so. That doesn’t sound like compromise to me. Perhaps you have a different definition of the word?
    I am also curious which of my methods you disapprove of?

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  177. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I had to take some time to think, as we are so far apart mentally that I needed to fully deconstruct my ideas, then rebuild them in a way that might make them easier to relate.

    In matters like this, I divorce the issue of morality from the subject for two reasons. For one, “morality” tends to be subjective, and I want to keep the discussion based on areas where there is a better chance for common ground. For another, “morality” and “the law” shouldn’t be overly intertwined — the law should not be rendering moral judgments, and should be treating all equally.

    From that point, I look at the race-based laws that the civil rights activists were breaking were very akin to minor offenses — disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly, simple trespass, and the like. Nothing serious. But the penalties imposed on them were grossly disproportionate, because the “real” crime they committed was threatening the established social order and threatening the dominance of the self-styled elites. The punishments inflicted weren’t for breaking the written laws, but the unwritten ones.

    Likewise, the pizza place and the florist are also being punished for breaking the unwritten laws. The pizza place didn’t actually break any laws at all, they simply answered an absurd hypothetical situation in a way that the dominant social status. The florist just tried to say “no, thank you” and was foolish enough to give a reason.

    These two cases aren’t monstrous. These people aren’t Bull Connor, James Earl Ray, Lester Maddox, George Wallace, Robert Byrd, or any of the other leaders of the segregationist movement. They aren’t championing some grand cause to change (or preserve) the existing status quo. They don’t have legions rallying to that grand cause. And to use the same tactics used against those unworthies I cited, to demonstrate the same level of force and resolve against them — that’s wrong to me. And the biggest reason it’s wrong is that it’s counterproductive.

    Note the response to the attacks on the pizza place. Nearly a million dollars raised, voluntarily, to (more than) cover their losses.

    And the sentiment by the majority of those who gave their money? Not “they were right to take that stand.” No, it’s been “they don’t deserve what they’re going through.”

    I also like how the response isn’t anger, isn’t destructive. It’s constructive. That appeals to me, too.

    Let me toss another example here: Joe The Plumber. He didn’t look for attention, he didn’t try to make himself a national figure. He was This Guy who was put playing with his kids when Candidate Obama chose to make and unscheduled stop in Joe’s neighborhood. Joe saw a chance to have a few words with the possible next president and asked him a question. And when Obama’s answer gave Obama’s opponents a chance to bash him, Joe Must Be Destroyed. He must be made into some kind of bad guy and totally discredited, so that he and his question (and most importantly, Obama’s unscripted answer) could be buried. Because Obama must be protected.

    Joe didn’t ask for that, he didn’t deserve that. But he got it. Obama supporters went digging through every detail of his life and released (in some cases illegally) every bit of dirt they could find on Joe. Why, his name wasn’t even “Joe,” that was his middle name!

    What has he done since then? I don’t care. How much of his own story was true? I don’t care. What I care about was Obama’s answer, and how that uncomfortable answer triggered such a massive response against Joe.

    There’s my latest attempt to explain where I’m coming from here. Again, way too wordy, and a bit delayed, but a sincere effort.

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