« How to tell Classical from Neo-Classical sculpture | Main | Thoughts on Trevor Noah »

March 30, 2015

Comments

and, on the flip side of the culture wars....

Just another obvious government plot.

"....can't you just find another photographer and let it go?"

As a member of the liberal oppressor class, I get this. But still, the ideologues on the right have no shame. All the time they have feces throwing hissy fits about some people forcing others to pay for stuff they don't care to pay for. Yet here we have a class of folks (gays) who are forced to pay taxes so some bigoted cretin can shop their wares in public (roads ain't free), but they cannot avail themselves of the services.

Pretty shitty if you ask me. And discrimination....of course.

plot?

He did sign the bill in secret, did he not?

the IN legislature appears to be desperately trying to walk this back, without looking too much like they're desperately trying to walk this back.

They're flying casually, like Chewbacca.

conversely, can't you just find another photographer and let it go?

Sure. I recommend they pick up the gay version of this to make it easier on themselves.

I recommend they pick up the gay version of this to make it easier on themselves.

I hear you.

Gay people have taken enough crap off of the straight world. I'm not recommending or suggesting that they stand down from insisting on their rights under the law. Or, if their rights aren't actually available under the law, that they stand down from insisting that they be secured under the law.

I just sometimes wish we could all sort it out without even getting the law involved.

We all have our own personal unicorns.

If it takes the law to make it happen, so be it.

I understand the sentiment russell, but I like Epps' better at the end of his piece:

Being required to serve those we dislike is a painful price to pay for the privilege of running a business; but the pain exclusion inflicts on its victims, and on society, are far worse than the discomfort the faithful may suffer at having to open their businesses to all.

Separately, I'm having a hard time seeing what the law in Indiana accomplished, at least from a purely legal standpoint. If gays aren't a protected class in Hoosierland, it's already legal to discriminate against them for any reason or no reason, barring some other statute that might prohibit it (e.g., a common carrier statute or some other state/federal law).

That said, it's horrible, and I can see how it acts as a signal that it's "okay" to discriminate gays, even if it was already legal there.

I predict the Christianists who pushed this law because they think, "Gay? Ewww...," will regret the day it was signed into law. Their goal may have been narrowly focused, but the law itself is very broad.

Imagine the uproar that will happen when some family is told they can't sue a funeral home for burying their Uncle Lou before the family could get into town, because the new undertaker is a Moslem and his right to follow Sharia law trumps their right to have the service a few days later.

Being required to serve those we dislike is a painful price to pay for the privilege of running a business; but the pain exclusion inflicts on its victims, and on society, are far worse than the discomfort the faithful may suffer at having to open their businesses to all.

Amen.

I'd go further, and say that if you're able to summon that much personal distress at the thought of baking somebody a cake, or taking pictures of their wedding, you might want to consider that a signal that it's time to reflect on where you're at.

I don't expect to find any unicorns.

I just sometimes wish we could all sort it out without even getting the law involved.

We all have our own personal unicorns.
...
I don't expect to find any unicorns.

I'm sure people move on all the time without resorting to lawyers at 10 paces, but you wouldn't hear about those cases. Think of them as deaf-mute invisible unicorns. :-)

a remarkable number of people and institutions, including businesses, have come out strongly against the law, which appears to have shocked - shocked! - Pence and the IN legislature.

It's one thing when the openly gay CEO of Apple makes a public statement against something like this. Even other businesses, with less obvious personal stake in the issue coming out against it. But when the NCAA starts making noises about not letting the national basketball championships happen in Indiana? THAT will get big time attention in fly-over country!

I'm having a hard time seeing what the law in Indiana accomplished, at least from a purely legal standpoint. If gays aren't a protected class in Hoosierland, it's already legal to discriminate against them for any reason or no reason, barring some other statute that might prohibit it (e.g., a common carrier statute or some other state/federal law).

I think that is part of why the Indiana legislature (and governor) are so shocked at the reaction. Because this didn't actually change anything as far as gays' legal position in Indiana. It was just a little empty pandering to their ultra-conservative base. But they can't really stand up and say out loud that the law didn't actually do anything, can they? So now they have to defend the pre-existing situation, where before they were getting a pass. Ouch!

... (b) liberal elites hating on the earnest, hardworking people who live in flyover land.

I am an elitist who is not in any way elite. ("Success has not spoiled me." "Have you had any success?" "None whatever.") So maybe I don't qualify as one of the "liberal elites". Still, I am willing to allow that I mildly dislike certain people who live in "flyover land".

But I categorically deny that "earnest" or "hardworking" are the qualities I dislike them for. Bigotry and religiosity are neither the same qualities as, nor invariable correlates to, earnestness and hardworkingness.

Bigots who care for my good opinion need only stop being bigots. God-botherers who feel that their deity's good opinion of them is not enough, so my opinion of them matters, need only grow up.

My TV just spewed Mike Pence at me, plaintively asking The Clinton Guy Shocked By Blowjobs: "Is tolerance a two-way street or not, George?" Why yes, guv'nor. Yes, it is.

--TP

This was meant to be a firewall against the inevitable inclusion of gay people as a protected class. They know that in the end this law won't stop that, but they really only care about inflicting as much pain and humiliation on gay people and their families while they still can at this point. Don't forget, they really are bigots. It's not just name calling. They despise gay people and relish in their suffering. I'm a 45 year old gay man. I remember how these same people used the pain and suffering of people with AIDS as a weapon against us. They wanted to deport us to a deserted island, or tattoo us. They let thousands of people die in squalor by convincing people that it was the result of sin. Why the hell should we trust them now?

Neighboring states should shut down the borders to Hoosiers.

Construct checkpoints.

Vermont, for example, should turn back Hoosier terrorists at their airports. Divert to Riyadh, where they might fit in.

Enlightened Hoosiers who run businesses should bar conservatives from entering their establishments.

Bring out the shotgun from underneath the counter, because that is the only language armed ax-handling Lester Maddox conservatives understand.

Mike Pence is a dumb shit,, born of low IQ talk radio, by all accounts, some even conservative.

Businesses across Indiana who find this law despicable should deny access to pig vermin lawmakers, including Pence, and their dumb shit families, who voted for this law.

Point guns at them.

Speak their filthy, f&cking anti-American language, the gospel of bullets meeting flesh.

It's all they understand.

They've said so themselves.

The Bellmore Cruz-Paul plot ticket is all for this law.

oh now, you're just mad because you're a liberty hating liberal.

"... can't you just find another photographer and let it go?"

Now, imagine you live in a small town where you have the choice of the obnoxiously Christian wedding photographer or the barely competent one that tends to show up to jobs drunk, if you are lucky to have a choice at all.

My thoughts on this likely diverge from the majority here on the substance of RFRAs.

In general, I'm for them. I think running a diverse, inclusive society often means you need to include people whose conscience doesn't line up with yours, mine, or majority, etc.

To the extent possible, I'd like to allow people their conscience, even when I disagree with it. I think that's probably not an uncommon sentiment, although 'extent possible' is carrying a lot of weight in that sentence, and is likely where the sticking point is in many cases.

I also generally feel laws are blunt instruments. We criminalize too much, and we litigate too much. Writing narrowly tailored laws is difficult, and it seems this law is good example of that, although I haven't read the text thoroughly myself.

And I think the response to this is pretty much where the fight should be: in the public space. Discrimination needs to be fought be individuals and organizations, and I think that is happening here, which is a heartening thing to see.

thompson, do you think that civil rights laws requiring businesses to serve all comers are wrong in general?


russell, I get what you're saying about "can't you just find another photographer?", but is that really a thing you'd say to black civil rights protesters? Can't you just find another lunch counter?

I'm deeply confused by the sympathy that these bakers and photographers get. If they said "we won't work with mixed race people getting married because miscegenation is against our religion " or "we won't work with Jews, Christ-killers that they are", no one would be suggesting that they could blow of civil rights law: everyone would recognize that the bigots need to STFU and do their damn job, no matter how much it hurt their racist feelings.

Turb, that highlights the real potential of these laws. There is nothing in these laws (that I can see, anyway) to prevent someone saying "My religion says I must discriminate based on race (or gender or anything else)." And given that exactly that position was taken in the 1950s and early 1960s by those supporting racial discrimination, it isn't really a leap to think that somebody will.

it isn't really a leap to think that somebody will.

it's not even a leap to think that was precisely the intent.

IN made it legal to say "we don't serve your kind."

fuck IN.

do you think that civil rights laws requiring businesses to serve all comers are wrong in general?

No, I do not. I think they are limits of absolute freedom of association that are, in many cases, required for function of a just society.

However, I think providing space for people's conscience is also a worthy goal, even when I disagree with it. I would not use the force of law to penalize someone who didn't wish to photograph a wedding, for example. Social condemnation, boycott, etc, I think are all far more appropriate responses.

I think it is worth considering the federal RFRA was advocated for by a broad coalition spanning both liberal and conservative groups. And, in my mind, it sticks true to many liberal ideals. Building an inclusive and diverse society often means granting leeway to people's beliefs and conscience.

Finally, I would note that the federal RFRA, at least, just mandates strict scrutiny for burdens on religious exercise. That is not the same as banning laws or regulations that burden religious exercise, just heightens the standards for doing so. I believe the IN bill is similar in that regard, although again my understanding is that the bill may be written in an overbroad and poorly tailored way.

Personally, I think the strict scrutiny standard is a good one for balancing the concerns of governing a diverse society.

It is just terrible how unscrupulous people hold a gun to the heads of good Christians and FORCE them to become wedding photographers. Or bakers. Or pharmacists. When actually doing that job would put them in danger of damnation.

Martyrs, that's what they are. Or should be. I'll provide the nails.

is that really a thing you'd say to black civil rights protesters? Can't you just find another lunch counter?

No, it isn't. And, "can't you just find another photographer?" isn't something I would actually say to gay people, to tell you the truth.

Yes, I know I said that in a comment upthread, but no, I can't imagine actually saying it to any of the actual gay people I know.

To be honest, I'm not sure how to address this stuff without making it a matter of law.

I'm deeply confused by the sympathy that these bakers and photographers get.

I think providing space for people's conscience is also a worthy goal

I'm not particularly sympathetic toward folks, who do in fact exist, who can't wait to take the opportunity of the IN RFRA to turn gays away as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

I'm not particularly sympathetic toward people to can't bring themselves to bake a cake for a gay couple's wedding, mostly because IMO the "religious scruple" thing in that case seems overly selective. Would they refuse to bake a cake for the wedding of a divorced person?

The animus toward gays seems, to me, obviously and specifically directed *toward gays*, and not generally toward folks who are engaged in other activities that their particular religion frowns on.

All of that said, I agree with thompson that there has to be room for conscience.

The question I have is how far that "room" extends.

For a society that includes different kinds of people to function, there has to be some space where private concerns give way to public ones. There has to be a res publica.

And, it seems to me that operating a business open to, nominally, all comers falls into that category.

Nobody is requiring anyone to invite anybody else over for dinner. Folks are being asked to make whatever goods or services they offer to some in the public sphere, available to all who participate in the public sphere.

The original RFRA was passed at the federal level to protect the rights of folks who participate in native American religions to take peyote as a sacrament.

What was protected was a *sacramental practice, which was inherent and central to the practice of their faith*.

I see a strong argument for conscience there.

The argument that baking a cake for someone's wedding who your religion says shouldn't be getting married is an undue burden on the practice of your religion seems, to me, considerably thinner.

The law doesn't carve out an exemption for "this offends me", or "I think this is wrong", or "I find these people very annoying".

The exemption is for an undue burden on the exercise of religion. Not your customer's exercise of religion, yours. Your religious practice and expression.

I understand that conscience can be very personal, but IMO baking a cake falls somewhere outside the scope of religious practice and expression.

Especially if the issue of conscience only seems to come up when the parties in question are gay, as opposed to participants in any of the other ten thousand practices that someone's religion might find "sinful".

The folks in IN are taking a beating over this, and some serious money is now involved, which leads me to believe the law is likely to be changed as soon as folks in the IN legislation can make that happen.

Which, again, tells me how deep the issue of "conscience" runs in this case.

What I don't understand is a bakery or photographer could have told anyone "No, I'm too busy to fulfill this order." and that would have been the end of it in most cases. Is it REALLY necessary to have a law that allows them to say, "I don't serve YOUR kind here."?

Isn't that about all this law does?

""Is tolerance a two-way street or not, George?" Why yes, guv'nor. Yes, it is."

No, no.

Tolerance isn't a two-way street. One is either tolerant or intolerant.

OTOH, this is Indiana--a state that apparently idolizes Mississippi. These GOPers thought they could pander to their own worst instincts and now they can't backtrack fast enough.

I would not use the force of law to penalize someone who didn't wish to photograph a wedding

Please demonstrate to the peanut gallery how this passes the Sherbert Test. The compelling government interest is clear; and your "least restrictive method" strikes me as no less than public license to discriminate on whatever basis one choses.

I would argue that it doesn't even pass the sniff test.

The folks in IN are taking a beating over this, and some serious money is now involved, which leads me to believe the law is likely to be changed as soon as folks in the IN legislation can make that happen.

Which, again, tells me how deep the issue of "conscience" runs in this case.

Certainly it has to be said that, if it is really a matter of conscience, the fact that it is going to cost you money should be a total non-issue. In fact, saying that it is seems identical to saying that morality is for sale -- if you pay me, I'll ignore my conscience and do what you want. One has to ask: Would that extend to rape and murder, if someone offered to pay you? Because that is the path you seem to be taking.

Just to be clear, by "you" I meant the members of the Indiana Legislature who are backtracking. In case that wasn't obvious.

Bill Black puts his view up on Naked Capitalism

He has several points about why this is just a VERY bad law.

In case that wasn't obvious.

I thought maybe my evil twin had escaped again...

:)

Yikes. From the Naked Capitalism link, there is this item from the IN law:

Sec. 5. As used in this chapter, ‘exercise of religion’ includes any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.

How, exactly, do we evaluate whether an exercise of religion is actually an exercise of religion, if it is not compelled by or central to a system of religious belief?

The animus toward gays seems, to me, obviously and specifically directed *toward gays*, and not generally toward folks who are engaged in other activities that their particular religion frowns on.

I would agree with this.

The argument that baking a cake for someone's wedding who your religion says shouldn't be getting married is an undue burden on the practice of your religion seems, to me, considerably thinner.

I would also agree the case in thinner. Lines have to be drawn somewhere. However, I have some understanding towards the wedding case specifically, because marriage is a fairly serious rite both in society and many religions, so I can understand how it might come front and center to some people's minds. While I don't approve of not providing services for a gay wedding, I could understand someone have a conscientious objection to a child wedding (still legal in parts of the US), and not wanting to be part of it. Or baking a neo-nazi themed cake. Or, hell, hiring a band to play at a political fundraiser.

My point, perhaps poorly phrased, is that there are many things I could understand wanting to take a conscientious stand on abd would want to protect people's abilities to do so, and I don't see a clear way of doing that without, to some extent, also protecting conscientious stands I don't approve of.

Freedom of speech comes up when the speech is unpopular. 4th amendment rights frequently are asserted to let the guilty go free. The disturbing, saddening, and offensive use of rights are where they are eroded.

Especially if the issue of conscience only seems to come up when the parties in question are gay

I think that's probably true. Do I think its shallow and hateful? Yes. However, I don't think we can have a realistic legal standard that tests the broad theological consistency of someone's beliefs.

For a society that includes different kinds of people to function, there has to be some space where private concerns give way to public ones. There has to be a res publica.

Yes, I agree that a line has to be drawn somewhere. I'm drawing the line in a different point. Most people don't have the luxury of not working publicly: you either are independently wealthy or have some way of earning money. Since most people aren't fabulously wealthy, pretty much everybody's work comes under the public sphere. Because of that, I think society should grant some leeway to nominally public interactions.

How, exactly, do we evaluate whether an exercise of religion is actually an exercise of religion, if it is not compelled by or central to a system of religious belief?

How exactly do you protect minority or offshoot beliefs? Can someone form a system of beliefs that's not based on a religious book or existing tradition? Or are beliefs only valid if they are associated with a major religion?

Thompson makes an excellent point. At what point does a personal belief become a recognized religion? Does it require more than one person? More than one family? How many is the threshold for becoming a real religion?

Further, can you claimm to be part of a "recognized" religious sect (whatever we decide that means), but hold specific beliefs which are different from the general view of that sect, but nonetheless religious?

At what point does a personal belief become a recognized religion?

when an IN court says so.

That would probably have to be the Indiana Supreme Court. Because it seems certain that various courts in Indiana would come up with non-identical answers. (And even then, would a court in Texas, for example, care what a court in Indiana said?)

How exactly do you protect minority or offshoot beliefs? Can someone form a system of beliefs that's not based on a religious book or existing tradition? Or are beliefs only valid if they are associated with a major religion?

As I read the IN law, the question is not how prevalent, or well documented, or of long standing, the belief system is.

What I'm reading there is that, *whatever your system of belief is and however you come by it*, you can claim a religious exemption that isn't actually something demanded by your system of belief.

The peyote church folks who prompted the original RFRA would certainly qualify as "minority", but I see their claim as completely legitimate, because taking peyote is a sacrament in that church.

Rastafarians wear dreads, and Sikhs also don't cut their hair. To me, the thing with the cake is like a Rasta or a Sikh refusing to sell a pair of scissors to somebody, because *they* might use it to cut their own hair.

So, a much more attenuated connection to the "exercise of religion". Somebody else failing to properly exercise your religion is not the same as *you* failing to do so.

The IN law appears to take that an additional step. It'd be like a Rasta or a Sikh refusing to bake a cake for someone for religious reasons.

What religious reason? There's no apparent cake-related religious imperative (or, let's assume there isn't for the moment) in either of those faiths.

What the heck is an "exercise of religion" that isn't compelled by your religious belief? I'm not talking about it having to be orthodox, you could make it up that morning as far as I'm concerned.

But whatever belief you're claiming, it seems like the exemption would have to be, in some way, related to that belief in order to qualify as an "exercise of religion".

Right?

Arkansas, clearly fearing that they are to be outdone in the stupid stakes, have come up with their own particular stupid...
http://asmp.org/SB79#.VRrykBikqrW

Or could this all just be a grand exercise is legislative experimentalism ?
A new kind of science... ?

what if my religion requires me to eat freshly made bagels every Tuesday, but the only bagel shop in town refuses to sell bagels to people of my religion? whose religion wins?

In the baker case I could imagine a legal line to be drawn reasonably between off-the-shelf cakes and custom made cakes.
In the former case the cake is not made specifically for anybody, so a religious claim could not apply to the baking. If the cake was ordered by and baked for a specific person that would be different. The former case could only be about the act of selling and there imo society should show zero tolerence as a far as selective refusal of service goes.
In the case of the photographer an option would be that general services (like e.g. passport photos) cannot be refused but individualized ones could (e.g. event photography and certain in-shop things like intimate photos*).

*I would see no problem with a photographer putting up a sign "no erotic photography here of any kind" but with "only non-gay/only gay erotic photography here" because the latter would be discriminatory while the former is not 'general service'.

cleek, in case of doubt you could be expected to bake your own and the one selling you the ingredients would be the one that cannot legally refuse. I assume that baking bagels is a wee bit less difficult than an elaborate wedding cake and could be done without undue effort even by laypeople.
---
I think the standard cop-out to the question 'what exactly is your religious objection to doing X while X is not a general anti-tenet of your religious group?' would be 'It is a tenet of my and many other religions not to do business with sinners/outsiders, it's not about X in specific.'. Like Catholics until quite recently being banned from any contact with excommunicated people and strongly discouraged from contact with non-Catholics in general. In case of shops a 'solution' could be to make them membership-only establishments. Then a shop could refuse to do business with anyone not a registered member of a specific registered club access to which could be legally denied. Of course only suitable for a shop with a limited customer base, not a big one like Walmart.
There are many ways of legal abuse not in need of a specfic law enabling effortless discrimination.

cleek, better yet, my religion requires that we convert everyone to it. Your religion does not allow anyone to leave it. Which religion wins?

Nigel, at least the Arkansas bill would pretty obviously fall before the Interstate Commerce Clause of the US Constitution. That is, they can (perhaps) regulate how people in Arkansas take and use photographs. But they cannot try to tell anyone else how to do so.

And to think, like every other state, a big portion of those Arkanasa legislators are lawyers. How did they get through law school without learning about that? For that matter, how did they get thru high school?

what if my religion requires me to eat freshly made bagels every Tuesday, but the only bagel shop in town refuses to sell bagels to people of my religion? whose religion wins?

The seller's. You're just a consumer and thus your importance is second (if you're lucky) to that of the business owner. Your religion too.

I guess you get to bake your own fresh bagels...

my religion does not allow that.

How exactly do you protect minority or offshoot beliefs?

You do the best you can.

But you do not "draw a line" that gives carte blanche for not even barely disguised bigotry against a class of people who have historically suffered greatly at the hands of a great deal of it.

That would make no sense.

We are products of our history, and we, and especially the religious believers among us, should be adult enough to own up to it.

my religion does not allow that.

Heresy!

OK, I'm officially putting this down as an own goal on Pence et al's part.

When you've lost NASCAR, you've lost the heartland.

The NCAA and NASCAR??? Man, how bad can you screw up?!?

Perhaps all the Indiana state legislators who voted for this, and Pence, will do the decent thing and resign in shame. (Or whatever politicians use in place of it.)

Yes, I agree that a line has to be drawn somewhere. I'm drawing the line in a different point. Most people don't have the luxury of not working publicly: you either are independently wealthy or have some way of earning money. Since most people aren't fabulously wealthy, pretty much everybody's work comes under the public sphere. Because of that, I think society should grant some leeway to nominally public interactions.

These are all really good points and I'd like to try to make a reply to them.

First, yes, I agree that for better or worse, stuff like this ends up being a matter of drawing a line somewhere.

Which means, most likely, that the result will be somewhat unfair to at least some people. Lines that don't cause that result are really hard, and often impossible, to draw.

Two lines that we've decided to draw are:

1. Public accommodations
2. Protected classes

For good or ill, if you decide to operate something that falls under the category of public accommodation, you're obliged to do stuff that other folks aren't.

For good or ill, we've decided to single out certain categories as being off limits for discrimination for a variety of purposes, including access to public accommodations. So, race, gender, etc. - including, it's worth noting, religion.

As an aside, in IN, sexual orientation is not a protected category, so I'm not sure what Pence et al thought this law would accomplish. Sometimes people do dumb things.

It's true that we all have to do something for a living, but you don't have to open a store, or restaurant, or hotel.

I actually am sympathetic to people who, for reasons of conscience, find themselves running up against the requirements of law or regulation. And that's whether their conscience is motivated by religious faith, or by some other source.

But at some point it behooves people with sensitive consciences to take the burden of figuring out how to fit themselves into the larger society onto themselves, rather than demanding that the larger society accommodate them.

Some people don't eat meat, some people have to have separate plates for meat and dairy.

Some people don't cut their hair, some people eat peyote, some people need to sacrifice animals, some people can't drive on the Sabbath.

Some people can't be in the company of the opposite sex in public, some people need to cover their faces when they're in public.

Some people need to shelter illegal immigrants, some people need to vandalize nuclear weapon sites, some people need to not pay whatever portion of their taxes would go to military spending.

All points of legitimate religious scruple. Each and every one.

How do we accommodate all of that?

At some point it falls to the person with the issue of conscience to make whatever arrangements are necessary to make it work.

It might even cost them something, in terms of employment opportunities among other things. If so, that may be the price of conscience.

I don't know exactly where the best place for the line to be is, but I'm not sure that being able to pick and choose who you serve in a public accommodation because of the use *the other party* is going to make of your good or service is the best choice.

But, I recognize that wherever the line gets drawn, somebody somewhere experiences it as unfair.

I don't think there's a way to fix that.

I think, before going too much into the weeds on this, Hartmut has succinctly captured a lot of what I'm trying to say.

But whatever belief you're claiming, it seems like the exemption would have to be, in some way, related to that belief in order to qualify as an "exercise of religion".

Right?

Sure, I would stipulate to that. I think where it gets hazy is what is related to beliefs, when as you say " I'm not talking about it having to be orthodox, you could make it up that morning as far as I'm concerned." I think more to the heart of the issue is this:

To me, the thing with the cake is like a Rasta or a Sikh refusing to sell a pair of scissors to somebody, because *they* might use it to cut their own hair.

I think I see the distinction you are drawing, but I think you can burden a conscientious belief by compelling contribution to an event or action you disagree with. To give what I hope is a more understandable/less offensive example, Thomas v. Review Board:

Thomas, a Jehovah's Witness, was initially hired to work in his employer's roll foundry, which fabricated sheet steel for a variety of industrial uses, but when the foundry was closed he was transferred to a department that fabricated turrets for military tanks. Since all of the employer's remaining departments to which transfer might have been sought were engaged directly in the production of weapons, petitioner asked to be laid off. When that request was denied, he quit, asserting that his religious beliefs prevented him from participating in the production of weapons. He applied for unemployment compensation benefits under the Indiana Employment Security Act.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_v._Review_Board_of_the_Indiana_Employment_Security_Division

His religious beliefs didn't allow him to contribute to tank fabrication. Nobody was preventing exercise of his religion on his personal time, or inhibiting activities central to his belief (like using peyote as a sacrament). However, he was being compelled (economically, by denial of unemployment benefits) to participate in something he found unethical, and he wanted consideration for his religious convictions. I can understand and respect that, and think the law should provide reasonable accommodation.

Again, 'reasonable' carries a lot of weight, but strict scrutiny and assessment by the courts is, imo, the best option.

I can understand and respect that, and think the law should provide reasonable accommodation.

As can I.

And, had the court not found in Thomas' favor, it would have been Thomas' responsibility to find another way to make a living.

And, had they done so, IMO they would not have been persecuting Thomas for his religion. As a simple pragmatic matter, it is not possible to accommodate every issue of conscience to the full satisfaction of the person with the scruple.

I don't know exactly where the best place for the line to be is, but I'm not sure that being able to pick and choose who you serve in a public accommodation because of the use *the other party* is going to make of your good or service is the best choice.

Yeah, and I think a lot of work is done by what is or is not a public accommodation. A lot of that is varies from state to state. CA, for example, has a very expansive one: basically any business. Other states are more restrictive, and it gets limited more towards stores, lodgings, and walk service types. I'd lean more towards the more restrictive version.

In that, I'd err on the side of letting people doing contract based work a little more flexibility. For example, I think the local hardware store has to sell building materials to everybody, but the individual contractor could decline to build a slaughterhouse if they felt the meat industry was unethical.

But, I recognize that wherever the line gets drawn, somebody somewhere experiences it as unfair.

I don't think there's a way to fix that.

No, there isn't. One of things I respect and appreciate about the US is that we allow accommodation for activities that we find distasteful or offensive. But the corollary to that is that there will always be people that offend the common sensibilities of society.

And, had they done so, IMO they would not have been persecuting Thomas for his religion.

I would agree they would not have been persecuting him. But IMO, the court struck a balance and society accommodated his religious beliefs. I think its a good thing society does so.

...but the individual contractor could decline to build a slaughterhouse if they felt the meat industry was unethical.

The meat industry is not a protected class.

The contractor is not engaged in a business that is characterized by public accommodation.

The pragmatic solution is to let the contractor decline to build the slaughterhouse.

The pragmatic solution to Thomas would be eligibility for benefits or a different job.

The pragmatic solution for Nazis desiring to holding a public meeting in Skokie is to let them have their meeting.

The practical solution for somebody who demands women not ride on public transit in their presence is to tell them to get the fuck off the bus.

Many lines.

You draw one. If we are limited to drawing one, I would argue you are drawing it in the wrong place for all the reasons that others here have pointed out.

Your case does not strike me as compelling, and is based (at its nub) on a judgment as to how "deep" is the "deeply held" moral belief at issue.

The way Selective Service determined Conscientious Objector status back in the day aside, that does not strike me as a pragmatic way to fashion public policy on matters such as these.

Let me see if I can summarize where I think several of us are going here.
-- If you run a business which provides generic stuff (whether rooms or materials or services), you pretty much have to serve everybody who comes in and asks to buy.
-- If you run a business which provides custom stuff (building to the owners plans, taking pictures of an event, etc.), you can pick and choose which custom stuff you will do.

Thus, if you run a cake shop, you have to let anyone who wants one buy one of your standard wedding cakes. But you don't have to make a custom wedding cake -- for any reason or for no reason. If you are a photographer, you can choose to work any particular event or not -- again for any reason or no reason. But if you run a barber shop, you have to serve anyone who comes in the door -- you can tell them that you do not know how to provide the style that they ask for, but if they say "what can you do?" and pick one, you have to do it.

Which brings us to employees.
-- If you object to serving some people, but your employer serves them (whether voluntarily or because required to by law), you either do it or you find other employment. Your employer is under no obligation to accomodate your beliefs.
-- If there are no employers in your area who will let you avoid people you want to avoid, you move. If you can't find anywhere in the country where you can pick and choose as you desire, maybe you get to emigrate.

In that, I'd err on the side of letting people doing contract based work a little more flexibility.

Yes, I am fine with that as well. MA is like CA, basically any business is public accommodation.

The practical solution for somebody who demands women not ride on public transit in their presence is to tell them to get the fuck off the bus.

Agreed, because there is no way to accommodate your need to not have to sit on a bus with women without making the women walk.

Not just be offended or upset, but have to walk.

It's your issue, you walk.

In wj's world, I would land on (a) you have to sell the cake, and (b) you don't have to take the pictures. Assuming that by "take the pictures" we mean attend the wedding, be involved at some level in the ceremony, etc.

If it's just studio shots, you have to take the pictures.

That's just me. My basis for drawing the line there is basically just my sense of how much of a "burden" any of it might create for somebody's religious expression.

Having to participate seems different, to me, then just selling a cake.

YMMV

Having to participate seems different, to me, then just selling a cake.

Given the compelling government interest, I believe the "protected class" is plenty narrow. Both of the "strict scrutiny" criteria are met. Those photographers should show up at the wedding (they can also subcontract the work out to free lancers).

As to "they gotta' make a living somehow" I can only reply that right wingers and free market libertarians never, ever tire of telling some classes of folks (i.e., those who agitate for union representation in the work place) that "this is a free country...you can just go get a job somewhere else".

So if you are going to invoke this principle, at the very least, you should be willing to abide by it when it goes against you.

Pragmatic, no?

If you run a business which provides custom stuff (building to the owners plans, taking pictures of an event, etc.)

You are a developer. You build custom homes or tracts of housing where the client gets to select "custom" features.

Make your case for discrimination in this instance.

My sense is this: Some who would otherwise condemn this sort of bigoted behavior under just about any other circumstance weaken when the circumstances appear, well, inconsequential.

But you get enough of this, and at some point it no longer is. At which point is it easier to draw the line?

I'd lean toward the beginning.

That, for me, is the rub.

My vague recollection is that the law makes a distinction between a contract for personal services and a contract for goods, in that if you're hiring the person (e.g., a photographer), then that person is allowed more leeway when it comes to refusing to perform services for someone based upon protected criteria. Kind of like what is discussed above.

This may all be statutory, however, and not Constitutional (although there is the 13th Amendment and all).

I may also be confusing remedies for nonperformance of contracts with up-front contract decision making.

bobbyp:

Many lines is true. I think doing it in a legally consistent way is more difficult than you are making it to be, IMO. It's always easy to draw lines based on things that society broadly agrees are correct. It's much harder to carve out consistent legal protections for 'worthwhile' things that current society deems worthless, while abolishing things that are inherently toxic, such as anti-homosexual discrimination.

Just as a note:

The contractor is not engaged in a business that is characterized by public accommodation.

As I noted above, that depends on jurisdiction. In CA, that likely would be covered by 'public accommodation'. As it would in MA, according to russell.

The practical solution for somebody who demands women not ride on public transit in their presence is to tell them to get the fuck off the bus.

I would tell them not to disrupt the driver or disturb other passengers, and I don't particularly think 'fuck' is a good foundation for public policy, but broadly, yes, everybody has a right to ride a public bus. And everybody has a right to a marriage recognized by the state. etc. I'm not trying to argue otherwise.

Your case does not strike me as compelling, and is based (at its nub) on a judgment as to how "deep" is the "deeply held" moral belief at issue.

Well, I've never claimed to be compelling. But honestly, no, my argument really has nothing to do with how 'deep' and 'deeply held' belief is. I've gone back and scanned my comments, and I'm unclear on what you are referring to.

My argument has to do with accommodating beliefs and conscience that conflict with my own, or with majoritarian views. I think that that accommodation is important aspect to fostering a diverse society. Balancing that concern with a functioning, just society is not an easy thing to do.

wj has, imo, summed up my views nicely.

and russell:

Having to participate seems different, to me, then just selling a cake.

YMMV

My mileage does vary, mostly on road condition, but also on this. Not that I find your stance unreasonable, just that I disagree. Various people take their jobs, their art, their whatever, very seriously. If a baker thinks making a custom wedding cake a labor of love that deeply involves them in the end use of the cake, I'm not going to contradict them. I'm not part of the 'creative class', but I know people that are, and they take things like their art very seriously.

And again, just to stress the point, I don't find your position unreasonable, I just disagree on an admittedly very fuzzy 'where I would draw the line'.

So if you are going to invoke this principle, at the very least, you should be willing to abide by it when it goes against you.

As I invoked that principle in this thread, I think it's only fair to agree: an employer should be able to terminate an employee for discrimination. Absolutely.

Ah yes, courts do not grant specific performance of personal services contracts as a breach of contract remedy. They do award monetary damages, however.

Thus, if you run a cake shop, you have to let anyone who wants one buy one of your standard wedding cakes. But you don't have to make a custom wedding cake -- for any reason or for no reason.

so, one counter for normal people, and another counter for those people? those people can pick from whatever generic whatevers the baker makes. but if you want something nice, we'll need a personal history and a sworn affidavit, just to make sure you're not violating whichever deeply-held selectively chosen commandments or penumbras the baker feels are the most important that week.

no thanks.

it's a straight-up license to discriminate. and we've done that. and many people fought and died to get rid of that bullshit.

Not that I find your stance unreasonable, just that I disagree.

No worries.

I think a fairly significant subtext here is that a lot of people are finding themselves left behind by the truly remarkable change in public opinion toward gays.

20, 15, 10, maybe even 5 years ago, the idea that freaking NASCAR or the NCAA would bail out of an entire state because of anything connected in even the most indirect way to gay marriage would have been mind-boggling.

The world is changing, and people feel threatened by that.

The flip side of that is the fact that gay people have, not felt threatened, but literally been threatened, for basically ever. Denied housing, denied jobs, denied any protection under the law whatsoever, prey to any kind of physical abuse from any random asshole.

So, there's that.

It's not hard for me to see some socially conservative baker would feel put upon at being required to bake a cake for a gay wedding, but it is miles and miles and miles beyond not hard for me to understand why a gay person would just be so damned sick of taking shit from everybody, about everything, every single day of their lives, that they would decide that they are just not putting up with it anymore.

Gays actually have been persecuted. Really and truly persecuted. Social conservative people have not. Nobody to my knowledge has been denied a place to live, or a job, because they believe in Jesus in a particular way, nor have they been arrested, or beaten up on the street, or any of the other million things that gays have been subject to.

There aren't a lot of teenage socially conservative Christian kids killing themselves because everyone, including their own families, rejects and bullies them daily.

The experience and history of the two groups here - gays, and socially conservative Christians - really are not commensurate.

It's interesting, and (IMO) useful to discuss these things in the abstract, or as a matter of principle, but I think it's also fairly obvious that the RFRA in IN, specifically, was motivated by a desire to make it possible for people to discriminate against gay people.

For some reason, all of the points of deep religious scruple that socially conservative Christians seem to bump up against when marriage is involved seem to involve gay people. Not divorced people wanting to enter into a second marriage while the ex is still alive, not marriages between a believer and a non-believer. Just gay people.

So, it all does have a bit of a whiff of bullshit about it. Not that they don't sincerely believe in what they believe, not they don't sincerely believe that gays shouldn't marry, just that the only time they get worked up about it enough to want to take it to the law is when gays are involved.

So, my take-away is that sincere religious belief is not the whole enchilada. To the degree that that is so, it strikes me that there is something fraudulent about the insistence on a religious exemption.

My two cents, nothing more.

Dale Carpenter has a good article about this on the Volokh Conspiracy blog at the Washington Post. According to him:

The Indiana legislature considered and rejected a provision, similar to provisions in the Texas and Missouri RFRA laws, that would exempt civil rights laws.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation legal at the state level in Indiana, but many localities have laws prohibiting it, and these laws could now be challenged.

russell:

I have nor real objection to anything in your last.

So, it all does have a bit of a whiff of bullshit about it.

I'd agree. And I've attempted to refrain from discussing the IN law specifically, because as I've stated I haven't had a chance to familiarize myself with its text.

But yes, my impression from various reports is that it has reached prominence because Pence and various lawmakers wanted to burnish their social conservative cred by bashing gays. It's not a position I respect, but I'm not a mind reader, I'd prefer to pass my response to the actual text, as that's what people need to live with.

But for various reasons, I don't really care what the IN law says. Mostly because there isn't a chance in hell that it will stand as is. Regardless of what it is or isn't, the perception is very much that it is targeted to LGBT, and US culture at large has, quite rightly, condemned that.

And to me, that's the win, and the indicator of what will ultimately relieve the discrimination targeted at LGBT members of society. Not to say there is not a role of law in preventing discrimination, but discrimination will exist until society erodes it by making it archaic and socially unacceptable. That is happening now, and that is a heartening development.

And to me, that's the win

Yes, I agree.

I think doing it in a legally consistent way is more difficult than you are making it to be...

I believe you are incorrect. You are advocating a position that enables legally sanctioned and enforceable rank discrimination that is wholly unacceptable and in direct conflict with prevailing civil right law.

To take this law into consideration is legally consistent. To advocate some kind of "personal exemption" is inconsistent, and at odds with current policy.

We can all be for protection of minority rights, freedom of speech, association, all that wonderful stuff, even for assholes, but when it comes down to legally sanctioning their right to inflict their bigotry on others, that's where I draw the line.

It is a relatively clear and easy line to draw as these kinds of things go.

Like cleek said, people fought and died for this.

It's damned simple.

many people fought and died to get rid of that bullshit.

Yes, quite so.

There is a real difference in the moral or ethical weight of the claims being made on the two sides of the issue here. At least, it seems so to me.

On one side, some people are being required to sell somebody a cake - or even bake someone a special cake - to celebrate something they think is wrong. The baker isn't being required to *do* the thing they think is wrong, just to make and sell a cake, that will be served at the event they find offensive.

On the other side, people have been beaten up, denied housing, fired from jobs, refused service or even entry into places that any other person can freely go. And so on.

I understand that we want to try to think about things like this in terms of principle, but there is also an actual, concrete history here, that really has to be part of the equation. In my opinion.

As personal note, I'll add that it angers me when people take what is actually a very important principle - the integrity of individual conscience, freedom of religious practice - and use it as a fairly obvious pretext to beat up on people that they basically just don't like, or who make them uncomfortable for reasons that have not much to do with their actual religious faith.

And if you don't think that's a big part of what's going on, I'll be happy to point you to a flood of social media chat, among other things, that will set you straight.

Freedom of religion and/or conscience is also something that people have fought and died for. It's a very expensive and hard-won coin to spend on hating on gays.

If being required to make a cake for a gay couple's wedding is the worst thing that happens to you in any given day, the best response is probably to be grateful.

All of that is just my personal opinion, full stop.

So, when do you take the obvious next step, and mandate that customers, too, not discriminate? Remember, EVERYTHING that's not mandatory is supposed to be forbidden. Why is it ok to discriminate against a baker or florist, when they're not allowed to discriminate?

Are businessmen the only acceptable underclass?

i'd believe these clowns gave a rat's ass about their religious principles if they had already refused to serve adulterers, people who have disrespected their parents, convicted thieves, people who work on Sunday, liars, sculptors, the covetous and those who take the Lord's name in vain. but they haven't, have they.

Might ask what happened the last time somebody asked for a cake to celebrate their tenth adulterous affair, or a successful 2nd story job. That would at least be comparable.

Not that it matters, really, but what would be comparable would be someone ordering a cake to celebrate their 2nd marriage when their ex was still alive, and they hadn't divorced for reason of infidelity.

Or, to celebrate a marriage between a "believer" and an "unbeliever".

Nobody is going to court about either of those things, to my knowledge.

Freedom of religion.

I like their "Deity Dozen".

Sacramental partaking of the sacred weed (item #12) wouldn't really work for me, the kind bud turns my normal everyday introversion into something approaching catatonia, but the first 11 points all look good to me.

Might ask what happened the last time somebody asked for a cake to celebrate their tenth adulterous affair, or a successful 2nd story job.

the law says nothing about celebrations. a bakery could refuse to serve a gay man at any time.

the first 11 points all look good to me.

Looks good to me as well. The establishment of that guys church is an example of why I like RFRAs.

It's a very expensive and hard-won coin to spend on hating on gays.

It's also a very expensive and hard won coin to discard because someone abuses it. My opinion, fwiw.

Why is it ok to discriminate against a baker or florist, when they're not allowed to discriminate?

Maybe because society couldn't function otherwise? Maybe because making people partonize every business in the country would be utterly impractical? Unless you mean something else by "discriminate," which I guess is a distinct possibility, given your recent trend of wordsmithing.

What absolutist words would Tench Coxe have for a gun salesman who refused to sell a weapon to a gay man or lesbian who had no criminal record?

What if a libertarian gay man asked a baker to bake a semi-automatic pistol into a cake to be presented to Cliven Bundy in celebration of the latter's successful armed standoff with the BLM?

Why is it against the law under Second Amendment absolutism to deny a gay man the right to conceal a loaded weapon in his pants when in public, but it is legal to deny him the right to walk out of a bakery with the purchased banana cream pie of his choice on his person?

My country needs to think through this notion of both arming the citizenry and then denying certain members of that citizenry the right to purchase pastry.

Someone's going to get hurt.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4-spBDcJyk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axERGIC5K8s

If being required to make a cake for a gay couple's wedding is the worst thing that happens to you in any given day, the best response is probably to be grateful.

I don't remember who said it, but it goes like this: progressives are open to pretty much anything as long as it's mandatory.

Has anyone looked at the text of the law in question and asked whether the same law is on the books in states like Massachusetts and Connecticut?

What statutory language is it, specifically, that seems to open the door to discriminating against gays?

Can a doctor be required to perform an elective abortion?

Can a priest be required to perform a gay marriage?

The narrow question here is not whether service wholesale can be denied to gays (a general refusal to serve gay people is not protected); rather it is whether people in commerce can be required to render services in aid of a gay marriage.

This is a clash of competing rights and a difficult constitutional question. That so many here blow by the issue at the intellectual equivalent of light speed is troubling. The lack of respect for others' rights--others already held in contempt by many here--is the polar opposite of what liberals claim to be.

i'd believe these clowns gave a rat's ass about their religious principles if they had already refused to serve adulterers, people who have disrespected their parents, convicted thieves, people who work on Sunday, liars, sculptors, the covetous and those who take the Lord's name in vain. but they haven't, have they.

If you understood Christianity, you would understand why your statement is incorrect in this context. Things like forgiveness and redemption are high on the list of people who live quiet lives of faith. Loudmouths on the outside looking in seldom change anyone's minds and often reveal their ignorance in their zeal to score rhetorical points.

If you wanted to make a salient point, it would be something like this: If (some) heterosexual Christians truly believe that gay marriage should be against the law, then in good conscience they should subject themselves in a similar manner to laws that reach *their* sins, i.e. adultery, fornication, covetousness, divorce, not loving one's neighbor and so on.

I'm an unusual liberal, if not liberally unusual, in that I believe it should be mandatory to love one's neighbor, but optional to fornicate with them.

Some believe the reverse, but they take the cake.

Where?

Down to the bakery to visit with the other cakes.

Tench Coxe and George Carlin together in one thread.

That'll do me.

russell: Freedom of religion and/or conscience is also something that people have fought and died for. It's a very expensive and hard-won coin to spend on hating on gays.

thompson: It's also a very expensive and hard won coin to discard because someone abuses it.

Once again, the question arises: who gets to say whether anybody's religion and/or conscience is being abused -- or merely exercised and/or followed -- when people claim that their religion requires bigotry?

It's an expensive and hard-won coin to discard, all right, but it has two sides. You can neither spend nor discard just one side of it.

McKinney: If (some) heterosexual Christians truly believe that gay marriage should be against the law, then in good conscience they should subject themselves in a similar manner to laws that reach *their* sins, i.e. adultery, fornication, covetousness, divorce, not loving one's neighbor and so on.

I believe that McKinney understands Christianity as well anybody. If (some) other Christians understand it differently, who am I to say that they understand it less well? For that matter, who is McKinney to say so?

--TP

You are advocating a position that enables legally sanctioned and enforceable rank discrimination that is wholly unacceptable and in direct conflict with prevailing civil right law.

This overstates the case considerably. Nothing is enforced because Christian is refusing to act. But more fundamentally, compelled participation in an event that is freighted with religious symbolism is a special and very close to unique circumstance. The focus is on bakeries, but what about catering, etc?

There are arguments on both sides and it isn't simple bigotry that informs religious concerns about gay marriage. Jesus never once said a harsh word about homosexuals but was very harsh on adulterers--points I make frequently when arguing for gay civil marriage. However, he did address marriage. For Christians, marriage is a sacrament and it is between a man and a woman who, when married, become one flesh. Most Christians do not expect non-Christians to buy into their view of marriage; however, they do expect to be left alone to follow that view. Compelling a Christian to serve at a function that runs counter to a fundamental belief that was never intended to be discriminatory is not a small matter to be summarily dismissed as bigotry.

Another point worth making: the vitriol many on the left aim at organized religion and the lack of respect for views the left doesn't even understand makes the conversation more difficult. For one thing, it raises the fair question of whether, in time, the left will want churches that fail to recognize and perform gay marriage will be subject to some kind of state sanction.

If you wanted to make a salient point, it would be something like this

i made my salient point, and i'll repeat it since it obviously went right over your head:

Christians who don't give a crap about people who violate the 10 Commandments or innumerable other Biblical rules but do get very excited about backing a cake for a marriage they don't approve of are hypocrites. they'll bake a cake for an adulterer but not a gay man? they'll bake a cake for a murderer, but not a gay woman? make a pizza for a lying serial fornicator but not two women who live together? hypocrites.

when i was in church school, they didn't teach us that selective literalism, picking and choosing specific parts of the Bible for the purpose of justifying your own prejudices and bigotry is how it works.

i made my salient point, and i'll repeat it since it obviously went right over your head:

It didn't go over my head, it just wasn't much of a point.

Christians who don't give a crap about people who violate the 10 Commandments or innumerable other Biblical rules but do get very excited about backing a cake for a marriage they don't approve of are hypocrites.

And where are these hypocrites? You paint, ignorantly, with a very broad brush. And you do a lot of mind reading and name-calling.

they'll bake a cake for an adulterer but not a gay man? they'll bake a cake for a murderer, but not a gay woman? make a pizza for a lying serial fornicator but not two women who live together? hypocrites.

You've seen this happen? You have evidence of this? Not likely. This is bigoted ranting.

I don't quite see the difference in cleek's and McKT's list of sins, except the manner of phrasing.

I suggest as a way of mitigating some of these differences that Catholic bakers, at least, install a confessional booth in their entry ways manned by a priest, who will forgive all patrons' sins after a certain number of Hail Marys and such, and then every patron may proceed to the cake counter on an equal footing.

What could possibly happen in the short distance between the entry and the counter?

Even the most incorrigible sinner walks at least a block from the confessional before renewing their bids for eternal damnation.

If the priest is a woman, well, no one gets cake. What's with that?

What happens to the left-over frozen wedding cake when a closeted gay man marries a woman and then years later comes out of the closet and the marriage ends?

Is it returned to the bakery as restitution or can the baker, if he holds gaiety among the leity to be sinful, demand some sort of pay back because his services were rendered under false pretense?

You've seen this happen? You have evidence of this? Not likely.

the pizza place in IN who just declared that they will not cater gay weddings: do they say they will not cater to parties hosted by adulterers, liars or people who disrespect their parents? no, they do not. so much for their very deep and very important Christianity.

This is bigoted ranting.

so the only bigots you'll stand up for are those who want refuse service to gays. got it.

Again, the real counterpart would be refusing to cater an orgy. They aten,y refusing service to gays. None of these places would refuse to sell a gay a generic cake. Do you understand the difference between a taxi driver refusing to drive someone who frequents prostitutes, and refusing to drive somebody TO a prostitute?

Liberals seem determined to prove that positive 'rights' are the death of liberty.

so the only bigots you'll stand up for are those who want refuse service to gays. got it.

Refusing to participate in something that runs counter to one's beliefs is not bigotry.

Did the pizza person say they would not serve gays at all, because that is your bogus analogy.

There is one limited issue here: compelled participation in a ceremony that runs counter to beliefs that are two thousand years old.

You conflate that issue with refusing service to gays across the board. They are not the same. And your clear animosity to Christianity is bigoted. It is approved bigotry on the left, but it is bigotry nonetheless.

If someone was making the argument that, in commerce, they had the right under their religion to refuse service to gay people, I would agree that this is not only wrong but probably bigoted, although I would leave open the possibility that the refusal was based on a belief that they were required to withhold service.

Some Christians deny themselves things, out of their belief, that many of us do not: alcohol, sex outside of marriage, divorce being some examples.

Some number of Christians would refuse to administer the death penalty, some refuse military service, some refuse blood transfusions. I'm a Christian and I don't subscribe to any of those beliefs, but I understand that some number of Christians feel bound not to do certain things.

Hypocrisy is insisting on sensitivity for some and denying it to others. Hypocrisy is denouncing bigotry while simultaneously practicing it.

This overstates the case considerably.

Nope.

Nothing is enforced because Christian is refusing to act.

Insofar as the bigotry is shielded from civil action, it is implicitly sanctioned by the state.

But more fundamentally, compelled participation in an event...

Nobody is being compelled to participate. Some bigots may be compelled to show up in court and defend their public bigotry. Nothing more.

...that is freighted with religious symbolism is a special and very close to unique circumstance.

Openly bigoted discrimination offends me to the very core of my being.

I don't remember who said it, but it goes like this: progressives are open to pretty much anything as long as it's mandatory.

A great opening, guaranteed to win hearts and minds.

An odd opening to a series of comments that takes others to task for their judgemental and intemperate language toward others.

Just saying.

Has anyone looked at the text of the law in question and asked whether the same law is on the books in states like Massachusetts and Connecticut?

Yes. Specific points of the law have been either cited via links, or explicitly included, in comments throughout this thread.

You're late to the party, so a brief review for your benefit:

The IN RFRA extends the 1st A right of exercise of religion to for-profit corps, which no other RFRA does except SC's.

The IN RFRA extends its protections not only to laws passed by the state government, but to disputes in which the government is not a party at all. No other RFRA does that except TX.

And most bizarre, in my mind, is the language that allows a religious exemption under the heading of "free exercise of religion" for things that are not a part of, or compelled by, the actual system of belief in question.

So, a somewhat unique, and uniquely expansive, definition of "exercise of religion", for purposes of exempting people from doing business with folks whose personal beliefs or practices they object to.

What statutory language is it, specifically, that seems to open the door to discriminating against gays?

Gays are not a protected class in IN, so they start from a position of being vulnerable to discrimination.

The evidence that the motivation behind passing the law was, specifically, to exempt business people from having to serve gays is basically circumstantial, rather that in the text of the law, but it is abundant.

Can a doctor be required to perform an elective abortion?

Since the point of the law is to exempt business and professional people from being compelled to do things they object to on religious grounds, this seems unlikely.

Can a priest be required to perform a gay marriage?

No.

You've seen this happen? You have evidence of this? Not likely.

No, those things are not likely. And, were you to follow the line of argument in the thread, *that's a large part of the point*.

Nobody is going to court to force bakers to bake cakes for adulterers, because apparently no bakers are refusing to bake cakes for adulterers.

Conversely, no bakers are going to court to defend their right to not have to bake cakes for adulterers, because, again, bakers apparently have little problem baking cakes for adulterers.

It's only the gays that seem to bring out the need to stand on religious scruple.

Another point worth making: the vitriol many on the left aim at organized religion and the lack of respect for views the left doesn't even understand makes the conversation more difficult.

Physician, put your own damned broad brush away.

Thanks.

Refusing to participate in something that runs counter to one's beliefs is not bigotry.

nonsense. a bigoted belief is a belief like any other.

Did the pizza person say they would not serve gays at all, because that is your bogus analogy.

more nonsense. my comment, twice, refers to 'catering', which is what the IN pizza place talks about in their public statements.

There is one limited issue here: compelled participation in a ceremony that runs counter to beliefs that are two thousand years old.

the law says absolutely nothing about "ceremonies" or any other special occasion. go read it.

Hypocrisy is denouncing bigotry while simultaneously practicing it.

being bigoted towards hypocritical, selectively-literal bigots is a hypocrisy i'm more than happy to indulge myself in.

And, AGAIN, they're not refusing to sell cakes to gays, they're refusing to sell WEDDING cakes to gays. If they were selling cakes specifically to celebrate adultery, you'd have a point. As it is, you don't.

And, AGAIN, they're not refusing to sell cakes to gays, they're refusing to sell WEDDING cakes to gays.

again, the law says nothing about WEDDINGs, or ceremonies, or special occasions. it's about "burdening" a person's "exercise of religion", and those terms are left essentially undefined.

if Mary Q Bigot thinks serving lemonade from her roadside lemonade stand to gays is a burden on her religion, that's cool with IN law.

If you think bakers refusing to bake cakes for gay people or pizzeria owners refusing to make pizzas for gay people are examples of organized religion, I have to wonder who is more contemptous of organized religion. Your high horse may have thrown a shoe.

And ought to be, so long as not buying that lemonade for the exact same motive is cool with the law. And you can't call the baker a hypocrite on the basis of a law he didn't write.

And, AGAIN, they're not refusing to sell cakes to gays, they're refusing to sell WEDDING cakes to gays.

It's entirely possible that the focus on wedding cakes is that they serve as the tip-off that there are homosexuals involved. Birthday cakes don't usually provide any indication of the celebrants' sexuality.

It's probably also relevant that the number of cakes ordered for the purposes of celebrating adultery is not far from zero.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad