Thursday, June 23, 2011

By force if necessary

Legislators in New York are still trying to decide whether to bring the gay marriage bill to a vote, and have tacked on some language aimed at protecting religious freedom. But not everybody is happy with that:

A religious exemption for caterers? Really? Doesn’t this expose the fundamental contradiction between “religious exemptions” and equal civil rights for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people? If you include catering, a completely contractual and voluntary arrangement to provide food services, in a “religious exemption” clause, you are just catering to bigotry instead.

The situation in New York risks becoming an example of “over-accommodation.” The “Free Exercise Clause” of the U.S. Constitution usually means protections against infringements against individuals’ beliefs and practices that are “fundamental,” “ultimate,” and that have “formal and external signs like clergy and the observance of holidays.” New York’s current laws are already sufficient to protect serious questions of religious conscience in the fundamental issue, namely whether a faith group would be required to perform a same-sex wedding. They won’t.

Of course, the writer of that article is herself a former Catholic, now atheist, so I have a feeling she doesn't get why being placed in a position of having to choose between your religious faith and your livelihood might be a big deal to some. Her focus on catering ignores the reality that asking a Catholic caterer, an Orthodox Jewish caterer, or a Muslim caterer to serve food at the celebration of a same-sex couple's "wedding" is asking them to ignore the teachings of their religion about the impossibility of two men or two women ever being "married," and to risk the possibility of creating scandal by giving the appearance that they have no problem with such a "wedding." Even worse, of course, is the likelihood that should a religious believer actually cater at such a "wedding," and anything at all goes wrong (as things often do at big parties), that the angry same-sex pair will sue the caterer and allege that the burned chicken or cold entree was done deliberately out of bigotry instead of merely being the sort of accident that can happen when you're hired to serve food to 450 people none of whom actually shows up on time, thanks to the photographer.

And as to "voluntary" and "contractual," well, remember the photographer in New Mexico who was sued for refusing to photograph a lesbian ceremony? The reason caterers, photographers, and others are being included in religious exemption language is because otherwise business owners who refuse to enter these "voluntary" and "contractual" business arrangements with gay pairs might be sued and have to prove that they were, in fact, already booked on the day in question or otherwise unavailable--or face the kinds of punitive fines Elaine Huguenin did for refusing to offer her (voluntary? contractual?) services to a lesbian pair.

Let's be honest, here: religious freedom, as far as gay rights activists are concerned, means only that you have the right to go to your place of worship and pray and worship there. It does not mean that you have the right to live as though you actually believed any of the things your church, synagogue, temple, or mosque actually teaches. Anyone who dares to try to do that in a post-gay marriage state will be branded a bigot by the full voice of the government, and punished accordingly.

Which is one reason why religious exemptions aren't worth the paper they are written on; they are a mere tactic to force the pro-gay agenda, and will be revoked as soon as is convenient. What the government gives, the government can take away. And a government which has defined all opposition to gay marriage and the grave moral evil of gay sex acts as bigotry will not hesitate to impose that view, by force if necessary.

UPDATE: Here's an example of the way religious believers who oppose gay "marriage" are treated already. Imagine how much worse it will be when the government is the one punishing thought crimes.

27 comments:

John E. said...

In twenty years, everyone is going to look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

John may well be right, but in the meantime, there is plenty of bigotry to go around.

Generally, I am sympathetic to individuals who do not care to participate in an event that offends their religion. I even sympathize with Muslim cab drivers who don't want dogs in their taxis -- even if the dog is a "reasonable accommodation" of a disability. The first time I recall meeting Erin (virtually) was a discussion about a devoutly Roman Catholic nurse being required to participate in an abortion. I don't think she should, nor should she lose her job for declining.

I suspect that there are PLENTY of caterers and photographers who would be HAPPY to get the contracts for gay weddings. It makes sense to take your business to people who support you. It is mean spirited to seek out someone you know doesn't approve to have them begrudgingly become your vendor. Who wants a wet blanket, anyway?

It would be fairly simply to write a clause that "nothing in this law, in itself, or in conjunction with any other law, imposes an obligation on any person or business owner or employee who has moral or religious differences with the measures authorized herein."

After all, the point of the law is to grant two people a license. The law doesn't even specify that there will be a wedding observance.

I think this is markedly different from a grocery store or restaurant establishing a policy "We don't serve Negroes here." (The well worn reply is "That's good, I didn't want to eat one. Bring me a plate of fried chicken.") Actually, I didn't here Erin advocate that any business should maintain a policy that "We don't serve homos here." She just wants to be sure that they don't have to host a WEDDING.

Hector said...

I agree, Siarlys. While I don't share Erin's views about homosexuality or gay marriage, I believe she (and others) should be able to hold those views and to live by them, just the same way a conservative Catholic pharmacist should be able to not sell birth control, and a Muslim cabdriver should be free not to carry dogs, and a Baptist grocery store should be free to not sell liquor.

I doubt that I would, personally, choose to patronize any of those businesses, but they have a right to run things the way they choose.

Geoff G. said...

Questions for Red and/or her supporters on this issue:

Do you think that it would be fine for a grocery store to deny service to a black person because of his or her race?

Do you think that it would be appropriate for an auto mechanic to decide that he doesn't want to deal with any more female customers?

Do you think that it would be OK if a caterer refused to cater a Catholic wedding because she's a devout Protestant?

If so, then I'm on board with this argument too.

If not (especially on the religious angle, as one's religion is freely chosen, not innate), then you are stating that sexual orientation should be treated differently. Which is fine, but I think you ought to explain your thinking about why that should be so.

Either you buy into public accommodation law or you don't. I'm fine with either choice on that score. What you don't get is some middle ground where you get to cloak your prejudice on this one issue as some kind of defense of private industry while flagrantly ignoring all of the rest.

Some consistency, please.

Geoff G. said...

Incidentally, on the question of morality in the workplace, who here thinks that working for a cable company or a hotel that sells pornographic pay-per-view is immoral?

How many devout Christians and Catholics do you think there are doing perfectly innocuous work (like climbing utility poles to fix cable or processing credit card payments) in companies like Comcast or Quality Inn or whatever? Probably thousands.

Somehow, they seem perfectly capable of differentiating the work they are doing providing service to customers whose morals probably appall them from their own moral acts.

But again, on the question of morality, gay people always have to be the scapegoats, even as the modern Pharisees hypocritically turn a blind eye towards the sins they are more prone to.

Geoff G. said...

UPDATE: Here's an example of the way gay people are treated by religious believers already (and have been for centuries).

BTW Red, you do know that One News Now is run by an SPLC-designated hate organization (the AFA, to be precise, whose commentators don't limit their prejudice to just homosexuals). I'm trying very hard right now to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you don't buy into the rest of the agenda like white supremacy or antisemitism. Please stop making that so difficult.

Anonymous said...

Reply to Geoff F

With the possible exception to the first, my answer would be yes, I would support denial of services for all cases. The grocery store would depend on whether or not it's the only store within a certain radius. Food, shelter and medicine are necessities; the rest are vanities.

"
"What you don't get is some middle ground where you get to cloak your prejudice on this one issue as some kind of defense of private industry while flagrantly ignoring all of the rest."

I worked at a DV shelter that did not accept any men under the age of 10. There are plenty of restaurants that refuse to cater to smokers. If a customer appears at a business either drunk or high, he/she can be asked to leave. So there is prejudice against innumerable behaviors. Unless you can say that you have never discriminated against anyone, ever, you are as inconsistent as the rest of us. After all, there is a biological basis for addictions, preferences and temperament. If you jail the man who punches others and destroys property, aren't you discriminating against sufferers of high testosterone?


"Somehow, they seem perfectly capable of differentiating the work they are doing providing service to customers whose morals probably appall them from their own moral acts."

A lawyer defends several clients that he knows are guilty. He is asked to defend a pedophile and he turns down the case. Should he be allowed to do so?

Red Cardigan said...

Geoff, I would absolutely find it abhorrent for a store to refuse service to a black person or a female solely because of race or gender. I would *not* find it abhorrent for a Protestant wedding planner to plan only weddings for Protestants, however.

And I would defend, as a Catholic, any same-sex oriented person who is unjustly refused some ordinary public service solely because of his or her sexual orientation (which is the phrase you use). But I would also defend refusing a gay pair one's wedding planning services because a gay "marriage" has to do with a pair's behavior and lifestyle choices, not mere orientation.

If a store owner asks a group of teenagers (and let's say they are predominantly African-American, just for the sake of argument) to leave his store because they are being rowdy, knocking over merchandise, and jokingly stuffing merchandise into their saggy pants before pulling it back out again (as if to teasingly pretend to be shoplifters) he has the absolute right to do so, and is not being racist. And if a Protestant wedding planner explains, kindly, to a would-be Catholic customer that she only feels comfortable planning weddings for her fellow Protestants--why not? The Catholic wedding is quite different, and perhaps the Protestant belongs to one of those sects which frown on alcohol consumption, which could make planning a Catholic reception a moral crisis for her.

And if a Catholic baker refuses to bake a wedding cake for a gay pair because he can't, in good conscience, send a cake bearing his store's name and identity but with two little grooms on top to a "wedding" he believes is a mockery of something he holds sacred--then he should have that right, too.

In other words, discrimination because of some characteristic is wrong (and we'll leave the "is the orientation toward homosexuality genetic, chosen, or some combination" argument for another time). But discrimination based on behavior and choices is something we all do all the time, and should have the right to keep doing.

As for your second post: we're getting into things like "remote material cooperation with evil" at that point, which is beyond the scope of the present discussion. When the cooperation is not remote, though--well, a Catholic construction company refused to build an abortion clinic not long ago, as they should have. And we should all have the right to make those choices in a free nation.

Red Cardigan said...

Geoff, I tend to consider the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) a hate group (they hate Catholics, for instance, but they attempt to hide their hatred by only publicly going after "traditionalist" Catholics who are presumably all antisemitic and anti-woman; in reality, they are quite comfortable describing my Catholicism or just about anybody's, except maybe Nancy Pelosi's, as bigotry). So we're sort of at an impasse there.

But of course I don't buy into white supremacy or antisemitism. I just don't take the SPLC's word on much of anything. And I grabbed the One News Now link because it was convenient; the story is out there elsewhere, if you want to look.

Red Cardigan said...

In fact, Geoff, considering that the *reason* the AFA was listed as a "hate group" by the SPLC was because the ALA speaks against homosexual indoctrination (at the school level, for instance) and gay "marriage," I'm surprised the SPLC hasn't gone ahead and added the Roman Catholic Church to its "hate group" list. I can't help but wonder if they're just too cowardly to draw the negative attention that would result from such devastating honesty on their part.

Red Cardigan said...

Sorry; that was AFA both times; it's sort of ironic that my fingers typed ALA instead, given what I've written about them before. :)

Geoff G. said...

Anonymous, I appreciate the answer. And I think you've put your finger on the crux of the problem.

Lots of social conservatives seem to regard homosexuality as something you do, like drink or smoke or gamble (or pray or meditate or read or what have you).

And this can even make a certain amount of sense if you consider that people have predispositions to all of those other activities to greater or lesser degrees. For instance, gambling has never held any attraction or interest for me at all. I think it's boring and a total waste of time and money. But lots of people seem to get quite a bit of pleasure from it and some people can end up having a serious problem with it.

Looking at it from that point of view, then sexual orientation does indeed become a question of morality. And the arguments against everything from same-sex marriage to nondiscrimination in housing or the workplace to hate-crimes laws makes perfect sense.

The problem is that that's not the way homosexual people see themselves. To them, their orientation has nothing to do with who they're having sex with (or even if they're having sex at all; there are chaste and celibate homosexuals just as there are chaste and celibate heterosexuals). It's something that is a fundamental and innate part of your personality.

And we can see this when you talk to people who became aware of a difference in orientation even before puberty. Many gay people are at least dimly aware of their differences even before they have a clear handle on what sex is.

So we would argue that homosexuality isn't something you do, but rather something you are. Which puts it in quite a different category from something like smoking or drugs.

Indeed, according the Catechism, the RC Church itself seems quite well aware that sexual orientation exists separately from sexual activity, stating the Catholic homosexuals are called to a life of chastity. That sentence only makes sense if you accept that homosexuality is something innate and immutable and separate from behavior.

Now, different religions have different moral standards for people who find themselves in this condition. Catholicism prescribes one standard. Other faiths have others. And that's fine; it's why we have religious freedom here in the US; people have to have the freedom to discern the truth for themselves (and it's a mark of my own respect for the religious freedom of the Catholic Church that when I decided that it was wrong on this particular issue, I didn't try to force my views on it but left).

But the flip side of that argument is that the government cannot buy into one faith's understanding of morality and enforce that as the civil law. Otherwise it undermines the right of other churches to preach with they think is right on the matter.

This is an argument that Catholics used to understand very well, back in the bad old days when they were targets of discrimination by Protestants.

Anyways, the point I'm trying to make is twofold: First, the sexuality is something innate and different from behavior, which elevates it to the same level of race or gender. Second, that the availability of a civil right like same-sex marriage does nothing to diminish religious freedom, but instead enhances it.

Geoff G. said...

A lawyer defends several clients that he knows are guilty. He is asked to defend a pedophile and he turns down the case.

That's not true. Lawyers cannot defend people they know to be guilty and are in fact ethically obliged to withdraw from the case if their client insists on a dishonest defense.

Lawyers may well end up defending clients they suspect to be guilty. But suspicion isn't the same thing as knowledge, and in those circumstances are still obliged to defend their client to the best of their ability. Public defenders do this all the time.

But your example does point to the solution here: someone accused of molesting a child would probably want to be sure that the lawyer he or she hires is going to do as good a job as possible. So if one lawyer thinks the accused is guilty, would the accused really want him on the defense?

Likewise, if I were to get married to another man, would I want to go to a caterer who didn't want to do the work? Of course not. Why risk the happiness of the wedding by inviting someone like that to participate? The problem arises when these services fail to disclose their prejudices in advance and so give everyone an opportunity to avoid the situation.

In short, they pretend their services are available to everyone, and then pull the rug out, sometimes at the last minute, when they decide they're not going to follow through on their contract.

Geoff G. said...

Red, before you dismiss what the SPLC has to say about the AFA and Fischer in particular, you may want to read about it first. Suffice it to say that while homosexuality is a main preoccupation of theirs, it is by no means their only one.

There's a good reason why Catholicism isn't on the list; a lot of it has to do with the reasons I was discussing above.

Here they are on the AFA generally and on Fischer in particular.

You may want to check and see just who it is you're so quick to jump into bed with. :)

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Geoff, way back up the list, before several comments each by you and Red, and one or two by someone else, you asked a question. I have a fair amount of sympathy for some of what you've said in between, but the first question you asked, I had answered before you asked it. If you want me to take the question seriously, you might take a stab at explaining why my answer doesn't satisfy you, instead of rhetorically posing the question again.

I favor laws that prohibit refusing service to anyone on account of race, or sexual orientation, in any business. As you say, that is part of who you are, whether you are or are not engaged with a partner, whether you are or are not celibate, whether you are or are not in receipt of a marriage license. Taking a can of tomato sauce off the shelf is the same, no matter what you might be doing in the privacy of your own bedroom several hours later.

I see a difference when a SPECIFIC ACT is on the table. Like others, I would agree that a wedding planner who is only comfortable doing Protestant weddings should be able to make that choice. Take the example of the nurse working at a hospital, who does not want to participate in abortions. IF she owned a grocery store, and refused to sell food to women who had had abortions, or to doctors who performed abortions, that would be wrong. But she has a right to refuse to personally participate in an act that strikes her as grossly immoral. (You think it is immoral too, right?)

Moving on the lawyers, it is NOT unethical for a lawyer to defend someone s/he knows is guilty. Public defenders have to provide the best defense they can to anyone assigned to them, and other lawyers can take million dollar retainers from anyone who has been accused. What a lawyer may NOT do is present evidence or testimony s/he KNOWS to be false, or participate in covering up evidence that would prove guilt. On the other hand, the lawyer doesn't have to PRODUCE evidence of guilt. They can just leave it where they found it, and let the prosecution find it if they can.

Turmarion said...

Regarding the SPLC, I've read their material on and off for years, and I really don't see how they can be said to hate Catholics. They may disagree with Catholic teaching on sexuality, but that's a far cry from hatred.

As to the traditionalist groups they criticize, have you actually read any of the stuff such groups put out? Even traditionalist groups they don't list, such as the SSPX are notorious for harboring Holocaust deniers such as Bishop Richard Williamson; but the truly radical traditionalist groups they do list are truly looney and dangerous.

I have actually read stuff by E. Michael Jones, author of the charmingly titled The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History (he as also referred to Jews as the "synagogue of Satan"), and it's really scary. Ditto the stuff by his buddy, Robert Sungenis. You may not like that the SPLC is "pro-gay"; but it's certainly not frivolous in assigning groups and individuals the label of "hate group".

Patrick said...

Haha; I thought I read this wrong: I couldn't believe people would want to *force* a religious caterer, by law, to cater to a gay "wedding". I thought I'd misunderstood...Though I guess threatening to sue someone beats the very bizarre strategy of getting a different caterer. Sheesh.

@ Geoff:

"I'm trying very hard right now to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you don't buy into the rest of the agenda like white supremacy or antisemitism. Please stop making that so difficult."

Haha. If you found out David Duke liked bacon cheeseburgers, would you stop eating them? No? So you're saying one can hold *some* things in common with certain people while not agreeing with them on everything? C'mon, man.

Anonymous said...

Erin: I am a homosexual man who reads your blog every day and who enjoys your posts while not always agreeing with much of what you say.

That said, I would like to say this: Yes, I think SPLC has properly designated the American Family Association (AFA) as a hate group.

Have you ever read anything by their Bryan Fischer?

Erin, I suspect that you haven't done your homework!

Bryan Fischer is a viscious, hateful homophobe! Check him out on the AFA website or on www.renewamerica.com. Go back to his post of 2/8/11 entitled "Native Americans Have Never Had Morals". What hateful garbage!

Sad that you are an apparent supporter of AFA and their ignorant trash talk!

Bern

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, please. I linked to some info One News Now had, and that makes me a "supporter" of AFA?

SPLC hates Catholics. Do you, too?

Anonymous said...

That's not true. Lawyers cannot defend people they know to be guilty and are in fact ethically obliged to withdraw from the case if their client insists on a dishonest defense.

Siarlys already covered this thoroughly: lawyers are not obligated to withdraw from the case if their client is guilty. They can defend someone who's as guilty as sin provided that they do not violate the law or the state bar laws.

And I have to say that Siarlys also covered much of what I would have said. I am willing to accept Geoff's point on the fine line between church and state, but without the small business protection, there is the risk of forcing Catholics to actively rule against their conscience and participate something that they are strongly against.

In short, they pretend their services are available to everyone, and then pull the rug out, sometimes at the last minute, when they decide they're not going to follow through on their contract.

I have never heard of any such cases and even if they did, this falls under standard breach of contract. Homosexuals aren't the only ones to have a business fail them at the last moment.

Red Cardigan said...

Bern, I apologize for the tone of that last. No, I don't agree with unjust discrimination against same-sex people solely because of their orientation.

That said, I believe--as does my Church--that the orientation is toward gravely disordered sex acts which are gravely morally evil. I believe that gay "marriage" is a lie, a codification of evil which can only work toward the eternal death of those who enter it. I believe that celibacy is the only morally good option for a person who carries the dreadful cross of same-sex attraction--and that it is a heroic and virtuous option which can lead to great sanctity in this life, and eternal reward in the next.

Does that make me a bigot? The State of New York decided tonight that it does.

Red Cardigan said...

I should add, that celibacy is the only morally good option for those for whom heterosexual marriage is unwise or impossible. I don't think that the vast majority of those with same-sex attraction can necessarily leave that attraction behind; but there are some people who really are attracted to both genders and for whom the possibility of chaste heterosexual marriage might (and does) exist.

Turmarion said...

Red, you repeated your statement that "SPLC hates Catholics". Evidence? Surely you're not defending the extremist traditionalists that are the only ones listed on the SPLC website?

Hector said...

Geoff G,

In response to your questions:

Re: Do you think that it would be fine for a grocery store to deny service to a black person because of his or her race?

No.

Re: Do you think that it would be appropriate for an auto mechanic to decide that he doesn't want to deal with any more female customers?

No.

Re: Do you think that it would be OK if a caterer refused to cater a Catholic wedding because she's a devout Protestant?


Yes.

James said...

Refuse to sell a homosexual a filet of fish? Not allowed. After all, what does homosexuality have to do with the price of fish? Nothing.

Refuse to cater a homosexual wedding? Allowed. What does homosexuality have to do with a homosexual wedding? Everything.

Anonymous said...

Erin:

Just catching up!

No need to apologize! I know where you are coming from and I can respect your point-of-view while disagreeing with it, just as you can disagree with my views.

We're still friends!!

Bern

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Well said James. I wish I could be that concise.