I am a firm believer in, and supporter of, the First Amendment of the United States and all its’ protections including Freedom of Religion. I often remind people that you have Freedom OF, not freedom FROM, religion, and removing religious symbols of any kind because they make people uncomfortable is anathema to our founding.
Similarly, yet conversely, I have spent two decades pointing out that your religious freedom ends when it violates another’s civil or human rights. Additionally, your 4th amendment private property rights disappear when you own property open to the public to do business. If you own a home and, for religious reasons, don’t want a gay person inside of it, you have every right to enforce that rule. If you open a business and don’t want to serve a gay person, you have absolutely no right to do so. And, once again, for the record signs that say “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” are completely un-enforceable, unconstitutional, and bear no weight on reality whatsoever. Please stop citing signs as your argument…it makes you look foolish, ignorant, ill-informed, and just plain dumb.
As for the goofy notion that one can sight their religious freedom to defend discriminating against not just gays, but anyone, It’s so black-and-white it is frighteningly sad that it even needs to be explained in America, 2017, especially in light of this country living under Jim Crow laws less than a century ago for almost exactly the same reasons.
In the 1950’s, America was littered with businesses, policies, and leaders who cited their religious beliefs as reasons for, almost 100 years after the Civil war, legitimately not having to offer the same services to blacks and/or interracial couples that they offered to anyone else.
From the very bench of no-less-than the United States Circuit Court came this gem of a judgment in 1959 explaining why American businesses could, legally, turn away an interracial couple:
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow…and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
— Judge Leon M. Bazile, January 6, 1959 in upholding why, at the time, interracial marriage was, and would remain, a crime.
Plenty of Senators agreed with such vile thoughts. Theodore Bilbo was one of Mississippi’s great demagogues. After two non-consecutive terms as governor, Bilbo won a U.S. Senate seat; Bilbo was also a virulent racist who used his Biblical beliefs to defend his hatred. “I call on every red-blooded white man to use any means to keep the n[*]ggers away from the polls,” Bilbo proclaimed during his successful reelection campaign in 1946. Bilbo claimed that allowing Blacks equal rights like voting would “open the floodgates of hell. Raping, mobbing, lynching, race riots, and crime will be increased a thousand-fold; and upon your garments and the garments of those who are responsible for the passage of the measure will be the blood of the raped,” he so eloquently bellowed.
Sound familiar? It should…we were told just 10 years ago that allowing gays to marry would ruin the sanctity of the institution and lead to men and women marrying animals, children, and stuffed toys.
And today we hear that people have every right to run a business open to the public by using their religious beliefs to turn away customers, violating, in the exact same way, the human and civil rights we violated just 60 years ago.
As former talk show host and conservative Republican Montel Williams wrote last week in the most comprehensive take down of this stupidity:
The Masterpiece Cakeshop case argued Tuesday before the Supreme Court cuts to the core of who we are as a country. Colorado baker Jack Phillips says he would be violated if he had to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. We, as a nation, have seen arguments like his before. It wasn’t long ago, in our history, when politicians and business owners made similar religious liberty arguments to justify segregation in businesses. Because of that dark chapter in our history, we decided — long ago — that when a business is open to the public, that means every member of the public.
Religious people in this country are entitled to near absolute protection of their beliefs, and rightfully so. Every house of worship has the right to define for whom they provide sacraments, whether it’s the sacrament of baptism, or religious marriage. Religious people, however, are not entitled to absolute protection of their actions. When a business owner refuses service to customers based on their sexual identity, that isn’t religious liberty. It’s discrimination. In this case, there has been absolutely no affront to Phillips’ religious liberty. He was and remains free to attend the church of his choosing and worship however he pleases.
That should be the definitive, open-and-shut, black-and-white and of the argument. But I predict it won’t be. Just like 60 years ago, I expect our Supreme Court to fatefully and wrongly side with the religious freedom Kennard and once again place our nation in the pitiful predicament of having to explain to our children and grandchildren what in the actual hell we were all thinking in 2017.
When a person, a company, an organization, or even a country, repeats the identical mistakes of the past, justifying them with the same lunatic fringe arguments made before, it is an indictment on the entire society. If the Supreme Court in June of 2018 sides with religious freedom fanatics on this issue, it may as well also decree rounding up all American citizen Muslims and placing them into camps “just in case…to keep us safe.” We should also immediately dissolve all inter-racial marriages and declare any such unions moving forward to be illegal, and, let’s not forget separate lines at the DMV, “blacks only,” sections in restaurants, and segregated schools.
Why stop with discriminating against gays? If we’re going to go back to the disgraceful American policies of the 1940’s and 50’s, let’s go all the way.