Richmond Times Dispatch:

After the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly are preparing to push back in what they call a culture war aimed at destroying religious freedoms.

Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, said protections of religious liberties are going to be the primary focus for House Republicans in the 2016 General Assembly session, which begins in January.

“My concern is that the ultimate goal of the far left is not to secure rights for gay individuals but to tear down religious institutions and the belief systems that support them,” Gilbert said this week.

Asserting that this is the “next frontier for the far left,” Gilbert said he believes it is “more important than ever that we ensure that people’s deeply held convictions” are protected.

“If we are truly going to live in a world where everyone is afforded their rights to live their lives precisely as they please, then surely that has to include people of faith as well,” he said.

While GOP leaders in both houses of the legislature have acknowledged they will abide by the high court ruling that made same-sex marriage the law of the land, House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, said the most pressing concern now is protecting religious liberty.

“We will need to carefully evaluate how this ruling will be applied and make sure we take steps to protect faith leaders, churches, nonprofits and individuals,” Howell said in an email. “The House of Delegates will fight vigilantly to protect religious freedom.”

Gilbert was tapped to take the lead in reviewing current law and what other states are doing to determine what actions Republicans may take during the 2016 session.

I get it that some people feel gay marriage is wrong.  That’s OK.  They can have their beliefs.  The question isn’t what they believe, it’s how they behave.  Gilbert and Lingamfelter apparently want to legalize discrimination.  How well I recall Del. Lingamfelter pontificating in front of the General Assembly against a Richmond prosecutor being appointed a general district court judge because he was gay.   Actually,  the delegate used every reason in the world other than he was gay.  His message was still very transparent.

Someone please help me understand how religious rights have been violated or will be violated.  Gilbert and Lingamfelter are both known for extreme right positions that border on the ridiculous.   Unless Virginians are going to be lined up and forced to marry someone of the same sex, there are no violations.  People are still entitled to believe what they want to believe.   No one is suggesting that a “thought police”  be formed.

Virginians need to send a strong message to Lingamfelter and Gilbert that Virginians do not discriminate.  Since Virginia is for Lovers, that should include its elected representatives.  Both legislators need to understand that people don’t choose who they love.   They need to SDASTFU.  Maybe they need to get busy and work out some Medicaid legislation.  That issue is far more pressing for Virginians than who someone else marries.  It isn’t hurting them.

I guess this is the only way either man can appeal to his base.  How pathetic.

56 Thoughts to “Gilbert and Lingamfelter obfuscate the issue of same-sex marriage”

  1. Tom

    These people are afraid. The legal landscape has changed and they don’t or can’t change.

    As I was growing up in rural Virginia when the Supreme Court legislated integrated schools and made interracial marriages legals, conservative Democrats were scared then and took all sorts of steps in the General Assembly to slow such changes. They were frightened that their beliefs of a lifetime, their way of thinking, and their long held religious beliefs were now challenged.

    Fortunately , new leaders in the Virginia Democratic Party emerged who embraced change, leaders like Henry Howell, Bill Spong, Armistead Boothe, J Sargant Reynolds George Rawlings, so many of these obstinate Democrats became Republicans or independents.

    So what of Lingimfelter and Gilbert and those who think likenthem? Sure, they will fight kicking and screaming against the new reality. But in the great chapters of history that are being written about Virginia, their efforts will be like the dog poop that you occasionally step into…spells bad and a nuisance to clean up at the time, but soon forgotten.

  2. middleman

    Apparently, the R’s never want to win another national election. They seem to want to take the Luddite backwards-looking path on every issue. They’re feeding their diminishing extreme base while the rest of the country has moved on.

    It’s interesting how they’ve tried to spin this civil rights issue into a so-called “religious freedom” issue. But I guess it’s not so surprising when you consider the constant spin from these folks. Like trying to spin the Civil War into a “states rights” issue. If you read the actual seccesion statements from the southern governments, it’s clear that slavery was THE key issue in the formation of the Confederacy. They were actually against states rights, as in the right of non-slave states to interfere with slavery. This was also made clear in the secession statements. The south has been spinning this issue ever since, even with the help of the Federal Government.

    Link to the actual secession statements from various states:

    1. I don’t necessarily think it was a slavery issue for the average Joe. I think the issue was based on where you lived and how you made your money. How about Economics? Was slavery under this big umbrella? Absolutely.

      I think saying states’ rights was out is a little too simplistic. They thought they should get to decide if they wanted slavery or not…but we also have to be reminded that the legislatures were doing all this and making these decisions and writing their declarations of secession. Those were the dudes with the money and coincidentally, the slaves.

      The poor sons of bitches who stood in a line so another line of people could shoot at them probably didn’t give a rat’s ass about slavery. They didn’t own slaves. They just didn’t want the feds telling them they couldn’t. I am never going to believe that the 10% of the population who owned 90% of the slaves convinced the 90% of the people who didn’t own slaves to do their bidding.

      It was a complex issue and unfortunately politics is still shaping “reasons.” I hate to politically pigeonhole anything that strategically complicated. Why must it have jut one reason?

      For the record, Virginia almost didn’t secede.

    2. Each of their reasons were unique. That doesn’t surprise me.

      The more I read, the more I dismiss it being all about slavery. Mississippi was pretty direct. SC and Virginia, not quite as clear cut.

  3. middleman

    If you read these statements, any idea that slavery would have died out quietly without the war is quickly negated. And any idea that only slaveholders benefited from slavery is false- there were economic benefits to all consumers from reduced labor costs, and the obvious general fear of the slaves is palpable here- in many areas of the southern states, blacks outnumbered whites two or three to one. As one can see from these statements, aside from the slavery economic issue, the idea of inequality was all-powerful and what many non-slaveholders fought for.

    1. It boils down to having a tiger by the tail and not being able to let go. Then there is the fear mongering and the notion of fighting for your way of life…just trying to make a little sense out of the world you live in when most of the population had never been more than 25 miles away from the place where they were born.

      I get very frustrated at attempts to evaluate the situation by today’s standards.

      Of course there was inequality. Big time inequality between the social classes of the same race also. In fact, there was almost a caste system amongst white people. Dwelling on the past becomes counter productive. In many ways, many of us have been victims of our past.

      Maybe some day I will be brave enough to tell my own “victimhood.”

      I just think it is time to move forward.

  4. Scout

    I would like to think that some of this “religious liberty” posturing is sincerely held ignorance. But I suspect that at least a good bit of it is political marketing by opportunistic demagogues. The Obergefel decision doesn’t have the slightest impact on religious ceremonies or beliefs among religions that forbid same sex marriages. No one will be forced to marry another of the same sex if that is not their desire. No religious official will be required to conduct a religious marriage of a same sex couple if his/her church forbids it on doctrinal grounds.

    The related delusion is this issue of commerce. Making cakes and selling them is a purely commercial enterprise. I know of no religious which invests that activity with ritual significance. The same can be said of floral arrangements. When you do business, you understand that you serve the public. If a baker wishes to boycott a gay customer, he is making a commercial, not a religious statement, even if his animus is religiously based (although I am hard-pressed to think of any religious requirement that would require a commercial snub like that).

    As Tom’s comment up the thread reminds those of us of a certain age, this is just re-heated Lester Maddux-ism, and has nothing to do with religious liberty.

  5. Starryflights

    The republicans have lost this issue. The sooner they realize that, the better for all.

  6. Pat.Herve

    Yet more fear mongering and drum beating to rally the base. They should learn to take on the issues that matter. Two Catholics (man and woman) can walk into a Catholic Church and the Priest can refuse to marry them.

  7. Kelly_3406

    If a priest can turn down a gay wedding (which we are assured that he can do), then why shouldn’t a baker be able to turn down a gay couple for a wedding cake? There are indeed biblical passages that warn Christians not to support immoral activities. Some of its strongest language is used in reference to homosexual behavior.

    If a baker refuses to supply cakes to gays at all (e.g. not even for a birthday), then there is indeed a case for legal discrimination. If the baker refuses to serve gays only in the case of weddings, then it should be viewed as an expression of religious liberty.

    The baker in Oregon that refused to serve a gay wedding has been found liable for $135K in damages. That, coupled with the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, has the religious community concerned that it will face a flurry of legal challenges.

    1. Baking a cake Is baking a cake. It isn’t performing a ceremony. When a wedding cake is baked, one can assume that someone will eat that cake who “immoral.” This has nothing to do with anything. If someone can’t serve the public without caveats, then close to the public and jut bake for your friends. Baking cakes has nothing to do with religious liberty.

  8. middleman

    Moon-howler :
    Each of their reasons were unique. That doesn’t surprise me.
    The more I read, the more I dismiss it being all about slavery. Mississippi was pretty direct. SC and Virginia, not quite as clear cut.

    Moon, my friend, you’re in deep denial here. Every secession statement specifies slavery as the major reason. The southern white population in general were overwhelmingly favorable to going to war to preserve slavery. They didn’t all own slaves, but they sure as hell believed they were inferior and sub-human, and they were willing to fight a war with the United States to prevent their freedom. Jim Crow and segregation clearly show this bias and hatred lasted into the 20th century.

    Folks like you and I who have Confederate ancestors may not like the reality of the past, but to deny it won’t change it, just like trying to deny the civil rights of gay people won’t make them go away. We have to acknowledge the past and use it to inform our practices and decisions moving forward. No country or person is perfect, but it’s how we use the lessons learned from our mistakes to improve ourselves and our country that determines our future and our legacy.

    Denial condemns us to perpetuating our failures.

    1. I am not sure I understand what you think I am denying.

      I see lots of broad-brushing. Let’s take the statement: “The Civil War was fought because of slavery” as a starting point.
      Slavery was decidedly one of the reasons. I never said it wasn’t. It wasn’t the only reason. It had very little to do with why the North engaged.

      The further south a state was, the more dependent on slavery. The more the region’s economy depended on slavery, the more it was a cause.

      I actually find it arrogant for 20th and 21st century people to believe they can wipe out the writings and musings of 19th century people. Reading old letters and books and written conversation with people of the time really tell a much more complex tale than just “slavery.”

      Ask yourself the following question: Why would some 35 year old man with a bunch of kids who did not own slaves go off to war to fight only for the right to own slaves?

      Once again, complex questions being overly simplified to suit the political climate of the day.

      I don’t think it is I who is in denial.

  9. middleman

    The problem with the “gay wedding cake” issue is the fact that a group of people under the guise of religion has declared another group of people (gays) “immoral.” Imagine how that feels to the group declared immoral.

    I think it’s fine for people to believe in religion, even in arks and parting waters if one so desires, but to use religion to discriminate and denigrate (declare immoral) is when one begins to cross the line.

    We have freedom OF religion in America, but more importantly freedom FROM religion.

  10. Pat.Herve

    Does the baker refuse to bake a cake for any other group? Catholics, Mennonites, Jewish, Atheists, etc. Where does the line get drawn?

    I can see if the baker says to not advertise his name or services, but does it really matter – he is offering a service and is being paid.

  11. Kelly_3406

    That’s not true. If a hypothetical bakery were to supply a cake with racist statements for an anti-immigration event, the same crowd currently commenting on your blog would be in favor of boycotting the business. The justification would be that the baker is supporting racism in the community by doing business with a racist organization.

    Like it or not, the contracts that a business chooses to accept reflect the values of the owners.

    1. I don’t think there is a “crowd” on this blog that represents one thought or another. Not to brag, but I think that is what makes this blog unique and worthy of return visits. Take me for example. At best I am politically schizophrenic.

      Having said that, I wouldn’t boycott a business because they took one customer. Now, if they only worked with anti-immigration groups, then I might have a problem. Look at pencil companies and T-shirt companies, which is sort of on the same line. They are going to have all sorts of different organizations.

      As for the bakery, there are ways to discourage business. Simply saying that you will accept their b usines; but you don’t have any materials that would suit them works.

  12. Scout

    @ Kelly (No. 10) – please tell me that you really can see a difference between cake-baking or cake selling and a priest officiating at a religious ceremony, at least for First Amendment purposes. Cakes are not protected in the First Amendment. Religious ceremonies are. This whole manufactured brouhaha has nothing to do with the performance or observance of religious rites.

    And, taking it through your more recent comment (No. 16), consumers are free to choose where they shop. If I want to withhold my business from Trump, it’s my right (not that he has anything of use to me). However, Trump can’t refuse to sell me a penthouse in one of his Manhattan palaces because he doesn’t like the fact that I disagree with him politically. Most states and localities have restrictions against merchants withholding goods and services from individuals. These restrictions go back to the 1960s, when merchants, particularly though not exclusively in the South would refuse to serve African Americans. Some of them justified these refusals on sheer cussedness, but others invoked religious justifications about prohibitions against racial mixing.

    Of course, there are other issues floating around here. If I were buying a cake and I thought the baker hated my guts (for whatever reason), I think I’d walk on by to Baker No. 2. Apparently in some of these states, the monetary penalties go to the refused consumer. That seems to me to invite set-ups and provocations.

  13. George S. Harris

    While I won’t excuse Lingamfelter’s problem with gay marriage, I can tell you from my 39 years in the military, that in all my years in the military, it was extremely, let me repeat, EXTREMELY, homophobic and I suspect deep down it still is. There was practically a war on homosexuals and homosexuals of both genders were removed from the service as quickly as possible and generally with less than honorable discharges. Perhaps a big portion of Scott’s problem may be the result of 4 years at VMI and 28 years in the Army-he was steeped in the homophobic brew that existed at that time.

    1. The military also used to be very racist. Somehow, it progressed. I hope it does now with gays. Lingamfelter needs to stop trying to legislate his prejudices. I don’t care if he thinks the way he thinks. I care that he is trying to codify prejudice.

  14. Kelly_3406

    @Scout (#18) If a baker refuses to serve gays in general, that would indeed constitute illegal discrimination. However,refusing to decorate a cake with messages/images that are distasteful or sacrilegious should be well within an individual’s first amendment rights. Gay marriage is the example considered here. Racist or misogynous messages are examples also.

    Religious expression is not just about a ceremony in a church — for many people, it includes their conduct and behavior as they go about their daily lives. That includes businesses, as well.

    1. Who would have a distasteful message on their wedding cake?

      Congrats Ed and Fred is not distasteful is it? I just don’t see how same sex marriage hurts anyone else.

  15. Kelly_3406

    If I were a baker, I would not have a problem providing cakes to a gay ceremony. However, I am defending the right of religious liberty. The government should not be able to limit the free exercise of religion, except in the most extreme cases.

    True Christians should try to treat everyone with respect and empathy. The bakery in Oregon probably could have reached a compromise instead of a blanket refusal to serve the gay couple. However, our enumerated rights in the Constitution are being eroded in my opinion. So I choose to err on the side of the First Amendment.

    1. I figure religion tromps on everyone else’s rights (Constitutionally) on a daily basis. I tend to stand up for freedom from religion.

      I think some people (all faiths) tend to have a persecution complex and always seem to think they are being picked on.

  16. George S. Harris

    I have just one question: What would Jesus do?

  17. Scout


    Kelly – I’m sorry. Cake-selling isn’t a religious exercise no matter who’s doing it – Muslim, Jew, Christian, Buddhist. I assume you’re OK with Muslim cabdrivers refusing to carry passengers who have a wine bottle in their grocery bag (this has come up before).

    If your evolving position now says that it isn’t the sale of the cake that is an affront to the baker’s religious freedom, but the icing inscription on the cake, then perhaps you are making a freedom of speech argument, as opposed to a freedom of religion argument. Good luck with that, but I think, legally, a baker would fare better if his position is that I won’t turn away this gay wedding job, but they’ll have to do the inscription themselves or have it done by another baker because I won’t utter “Congratulations Joe and Ed”.

    In any event, I’ve been trying to remember what wedding cakes typically say on them. My recollection (hazy though it admittedly is, is that usually they don’t say anything, they are just decorated.

    1. I don’t remember anything on them either. Doves. Maybe its the double brides or grooms on some.

    2. IN the spirit of Rick Bentley, I am going to suggest that perhaps communion is the selling of cake, of a sort. Sorry, REALLY bad joke. I could never match Rick when it coms to irreverence. My husband, former good Catholic and alter boy, is pretty bad–makes me think I am going to get hit by lightning.

  18. middleman

    I realize this is off-topic, but in the process of trying to make a point relating to civil rights I got Moon into yet another discussion on slavery and the Civil War back a ways and I wanted to re – emphasize a key point.

    Serious scholars recognize (and I think you agree) that the leadership went to war to preserve slavery. Your claim is that the average Joe didn’t- and wouldn’t because he didn’t benefit from slavery. From history, it’s clear Joe did, from lower cost of goods to depressed labor costs.

    And from my personal history, with my father growing up on a farm in Mississippi and me visiting there often, I can tell you that the average Mississippi an was still mad that the slaves were freed in the 1960’s! And that ain’t from a book- I lived it!

    1. I think you are stating opinion as fact. Some serious scholars state that the leadership went to war to preserve salary and I expect people in Mississippi did more so than those folks in Virginia. Virginia was a gateway state and they weren’t as reliant on slavery as people in Mississippi.

      Certainly the military leadership wasn’t part of that leadership you speak of. Lee, Jackson, and bunches of others who had been In the US military simply felt they couldn’t pick up arms against Virginians.

      Its probably safe to say that Virginia wasn’t totally permeated with slavery. The highest concentration was in Tidewater.

      I certainly think slavery was part of it but not all of it. At least in Virginia, it was a complex issue that transcended a simple one issue sound bite.

    2. Finally, I think we are both coming from 2 different parts of the country. I have stated many times how much I hate that war, in terms of lives lost and maimed as well as property destroyed. I am simply not going to argue over it any more. We both have different perspectives and different relatives. Virginia wasn’t Mississippi. I don’t think we can judge on state in terms of another.

      I have spent most of my life living within a stone’s throw of a couple of different battle fields. My brain is infused with this stuff. I know this: No state was hit harder by the war and no state was hit as often.

      Final at the end of the day, what difference does it make how or why it started? I prefer to look at how it ended.

  19. middleman

    I should have said the average WHITE Mississippian!

  20. Kelly_3406


    What gives you the right to define when religious beliefs can play a role in how another adult carries out his daily activities? I get that you view business activity as secular, but going into business does not imply the loss of one’s 1st Amendment rights. We saw that with the Hobby Lobby case. Basically you want to allow the government to define a set of rules that limits when the 1st Amendment has to be tolerated. This viewpoint, which seems to be prevalent among establishment Republican types, is what concerns the religious community.

    1. Kelly, if I am hearing you right, then a person gets to decide what he or she religiously objects to. That s a real slippery slope, in my opinion.

      For the life of me, I think that gays violating other people’s religious rights is a total stretch. In fact, gays civil rights have been violated since the beginning of this country. Live and let live now. Its time.

  21. Scout

    OK Kelly – point me to the cake-selling religious doctrine of the Bible, or any other major religion’s foundation documents. I’ll reconsider my views if you can hook selling stuff into core religious doctrine. If your view is correct, why should a white merchant not be able to refuse to do business with an African American if he says that his religious beliefs forbid racial mixing or interactions? We got a lot of that in the 1960s. How do you distinguish your position from the positions of those die-hard segregationists who invoked religious justifications for refusing to deal with Black Americans? Where do you stand on the Muslim cab driver refusing to carry a passenger with a bottle of wine in her grocery bag? Are you OK with that? I think you have to be for your opinion to have any internal consistency.

    If a person has a set of beliefs, religious or otherwise, that forbids them doing commercial business with the public at large they should be in lines of work that don’t require them to do business with the public at large. It’s that simple.

    1. Excellent examples. How about a motel owner refusing to rent a room to a bi-racial couple? Should that be permitted? I see no difference in that and refusing to bake a cake. Its all commerce.

      Do private business for church only if you can’t deal with the public laws of the land.

  22. Kelly_3406


    There are plenty of biblical references to the immorality of homosexual behavior and the responsibility of believers to avoid condoning that behavior. A reasonable case can be made that bakers, floral shops, photographers, etc. that provide services that contribute to the celebration of gay marriage are implicitly condoning that behavior.

    I do not advocate for religious liberty as an excuse for outright discrimination against specific groups, races, or religious sects. It is already well established that the First Amendment cannot be used to discriminate against racial mixing or bi-racial couples. These limitations are appropriate and need not be re-visited.

    However, I am pushing back against further government attempts to constrain individual religious liberty. I think a Muslim taxicab has the right to refuse to transport alcohol if it is in plain sight. Since no one has the right to inspect packages, alcohol really should not be a problem unless the rider is being a jerk. Kosher delis should not be forced to serve pork, even though it discriminates against Christian buyers. A devout Catholic baker should be able to turn down an order for a cake that celebrates abortion.

    Here is a more in-depth discussion that makes a lot of sense to me:

    1. I have spent a long time in the abortion rights movement. I have never seen a cake that celebrates abortion. In fact, I have never seen abortion celebrated.

      I cant imagine why anyone would go to a Jewish Deli for pork.

      If a muslim refuses alcohol in a public cab, screw them. Plenty of other people oppose alcohol. If you serve the public, that’s part of it.

      One of the biggest violations of 1st amendment is the practice of public prayer before govt. meetings. A 3 minute prayer establishes religion for those 3 minutes.

      As for the

  23. Wolve

    Too bad. By forcing down their throats what many Christians believe is sexual immorality proscribed by Holy Scriptures and which should not be abetted by or participated in by said Believers, you are moving toward a societal war which may divide this country permanently. I believe that, at the least, you are in for a long era of civil disobedience in which you will have to face the possibility of trying to put many Christians, clergy and laymen, and others of like moral faith into the role of prosecutable criminal violators. Are you ready for that picture and for a likely shredding of the national fabric? State government in Oregon, operating below the radar in cahoots with a local LGBT activist group, levying an outlandish fine on those small-time bakers in Oregon and, in effect, destroying their business and their personal finances is the start of this nasty business. You keep going with that kind of thing, and you are walking into a severe and very long confrontation. I guarantee it.

    Cake baking and the Holy Scriptures! Yeesh. Once again…….Oh, never mind.

    1. Thank goodness. You are here. I have been looking for you!

    2. I don’t see an impending war. Who people decide to marry shouldn’t be any of our concern.

      Just bake the cake and tell them you don’t have 2 grooms centerpiece and be done with it.

      Put some wedding bells and doves on it. That’s as far as the bakers involvement should go.

  24. Wolve

    This battle will encompass a lot more religious-secular conflicts than just homosexual marriage.

  25. Scout

    Wolve (re #39): what, pray tell, is being forced down our Christian throats by the Obergefell decision? If you and I have moral reservations about homosexual acts, we deal with it the same way we deal with any activity that we deem immoral – we do not partake. No one is going to be forced into a same sex marriage or forced to commit a homosexual act if they have moral scruples against that sort of thing.

    Kelly – how do you get from the idea that a merchant should not be able to turn away customers to the idea that a Jewish deli is going to be forced to sell pork? Are you concerned that car dealers are going to be forced to sell washing machines? Frankly, I don’t follow.

  26. Kelly_3406


    That’s all you’ve got? My point is made.


  27. Scout

    QED my foot, Kelly. I thought your comment repetitive, non-substantive, and required no further attention beyond what I had previously said. I did think the Jewish deli example was worth a minor eyebrow raise, however, as no one had ever said anything that irrational previously.

    If you read back through the comments, you’ll see that I already have taken the position that selling stuff is not a religious exercise and that people engaged in commercial activity can’t withhold commerce based on having some antipathy for particular customers, even if they try to justify that sort of boycott by invoking religious objections. This is particularly the case when no religion forbids commerce in cakes or flowers as a doctrinal tenet (or at least you haven’t identified any in response to my query at #35). I’ve been an active member of a Christian denomination for most of my fairly long life, and have never come across the first indication that merchants cannot sell things for religious reasons. Bakers and florists (to stick with the more common recent examples) sell things every day to idol worshippers, adulterers, liars, coveters, sabbath breakers, and people who are not particularly respectful of their parents, not to mentions folks who do not love their neighbors as they love themselves or love the Lord with all their might. The sale of the cake or the flowers doesn’t have religious content. This would be a substantive issue if priests were being forced to conduct religious marriages of people who do not qualify for marriage according to the doctrinal requirements of the priests’ religion, but that’s not what we’re talking about, is it?

    You’ve gone as far (as I guess you have to) to say that a merchant can’t turn away an interracial couple or discriminate against specific races or groups (and I take that last term to mean even homosexuals). Your reason is that those points have already been decided and “need not be revisited.” But your rationale is indistinguishable from the rationale used by many segregationists to deny commercial services (or the right to marry) to particular racial groups. (And I’m still puzzling how a cake would “celebrate abortion” or who would by a cake for that purpose. Cakes just get eaten. They don’t do anything else. They certainly don’t perform religious functions).

    The issue is a phony one on several levels and in short order the rough spots sort themselves out. No one would want to do business with a person who despises him or her, even if it is for some bizarre or contorted religious reason. Word gets around, I imagine.

    And, to return to where I started with you in #44, my question re your comment #37, was where you got the idea that this situation is analogous to a Jewish Deli being forced to sell pork. What is the logic of that? Is that the point you deem to have been irrefutably made previously?

    1. If guns are inanimate objects, so are cakes.

      Get that fornicating cake outta my sight!!!!!

  28. Scout

    Way up the thread, I suggested that the cake problem is better seen as a “speech” issue than a “religion” issue. If the baker is asked to put something to which he objects on the cake, he should refuse as a matter of free speech, not as a matter of religion, given the absence of any religious constraints on cake selling. The purchaser can add the objectionable sentiment himself or take it to another baker who has different moral inhibitions.

  29. Kelly_3406

    The issue is whether or not freedom of religious expression allows a business to opt out of providing a service based on its religious and/or moral objections.

    Let’s start with the Hobby Lobby case. The business objected, based on the religious beliefs of its owner, to abortion coverage in medical insurance provided to its employees. There is nothing specific in the owner’s religion that specifically prohibits it from providing insurance coverage for women to freely choose a legal medical procedure. The company objected because it did not want to condone a procedure or drugs counter to its religious beliefs. As we all know, Hobby Lobby prevailed. This case shows that business owners do not lose their religious liberty; nor does there have to be a specific prohibition in the religion (i.e. ‘Thou shalt not provide insurance with coverage for abortion-causing drugs’ cannot be found in any religious doctrine) for an owner to make a valid claim of religious liberty for not following a statute.

    Let’s consider a more relevant (hypothetical) case: an artist renowned for his paintings of Christian scenes has a shop on Main Street, America. He is also available for hire to paint portraits for graduations, communions, and other family events. A couple enters his shop to ask him to paint a scene in honor of their son’s upcoming gay nuptials. The artist declines, citing his moral objection to gay marriage, but recommends another artist.

    My belief is that the artist has the right to refuse on the basis of religious liberty. He is being asked to apply his artistic talents to glorify a practice that he finds morally objectionable. If a gay couple wanted to buy a painting already on sale as a wedding gift, then the artist should sell it to them. He would have no grounds to turn them down.

    Religious liberty should apply to bakers as well. If a wedding cake was already baked and ready to go, the bakers should sell it, regardless of sexual orientation. However, if the baker is asked to create and decorate a cake specifically for a gay wedding, then religious liberty gives him the right to turn it down. A person should not have to apply his artistic talents to support a practice that conflicts with his religion. If a gay couple came into a bakery and simply asked to purchase a wedding cake without specifying any details of the wedding, then the baker should supply it. The baker has no right to ask any details.

    My last point is that no one has the right to discriminate against ethnic groups or religions. Denying services due to skin color or handicaps is not covered by religious liberty–society has a compelling interest to prevent this. However, religious liberty should allow a business to deny services for immoral human behaviors and/or sacriligious events. The distinction is that religious liberty allows a devout person to refuse to provide services that would condone certain behaviors/events, but cannot refuse to provide services in general against a particular group/class of people.

    1. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruled that corporations controlled by religious families cannot be required to pay for contraception coverage for their female workers.

      I think that was a wrongly decided case, just like Citizens United. Having said that, the cases are what they are. Hobby Lobby wasn’t about discrimination and civil rights.

      What you are suggesting is that there should be a ruling where it is legal to discriminate against customers because of your personal beliefs. As long as you are open to the public, it is no more right to deny a wedding cake to a gay couple than to refuse to allow someone into your establishment because they are black.

      When I was growing up, people used their “religious beliefs” all the time to justify Jim Crow laws and segregated schools. Frankly, I don’t see the difference. Both are civil rights issues.

      Furthermore, I am willing to bet that the family in Oregon put themselves out here by making nasty remarks about gays. Its hard to imagine that it just happened to them.

  30. Scout

    The Hobby Lobby case would be analogous if the owners of Hobby Lobby had refused to sell model airplanes to women who had had abortions.

    I don’t think we know what all the implications of Hobby Lobby will be. It will take some time to work through and to see all the imaginative ways civil liberties lawyers attempt to use it. But it was not a constitutional case, it was a case interpreting RFRA, a statute enacted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision that Native Americans could not invoke religious beliefs to justify their use of peyote in religious ceremonies. Justice Scalia forcefully made the point in that case that permitting people to opt out of laws because of general applicability based on invoking religious beliefs “would make the processed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land and in effect permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” This is the problem I see with Kelly’s position on the cakes and flowers. If you permit people to dodge laws because of self-ascribed religious scruples, you create the anarchical situation of a self-proclaimed “private right to ignore generally applicable laws” (again, using Justice Scalia’s words).

    All that seems pretty sensible to me, a conservative, and Kelly’s position strikes me as some sort of anarchical, liberal, situational ethics position. But, RFRA, enacted in the wake of the peyote case does change how the courts look at these things. It only applies to federal laws, not state laws, and many of these dust-ups with merchants and gays are arising in a state law context. Whether Hobby Lobby or RFRA will have any impact on the withholding of commerce situation will have to develop. Again, as I stated before, I expect these cases to be few and far between, if for no other reason that no one wants to buy a consumable or and artistic product from someone who hates him.

    But just to keep the discussion going, I am completely puzzled about how Kelly draws the line between his saying that of course, no one should be able to refuse service on self-declared religious grounds to a particular ethnic group or some other classification of people, but they should be able to discriminate against “behaviors” (like getting married, I presume). That distinction seems fairly artificial. Again, this may be generational for people my age who distinctly remember that among the many justifications offered for being able to refuse service to African Americans, be it in food, housing, or lodgings, was that to provide these services in a mixed race situation violated Holy Scripture. If Kelly is right that a merchant should be able to refuse to sell a cake to homosexuals because they have religious objections to things that the homosexuals might be doing in privacy at some remove from the bakeshop, why should not a motel proprietor be able to refuse to provide a room to a mixed race heterosexual couple seeking lodging? Is the principle not the same? And does that not lead to permitting the Muslim cabdriver or grocery checker to refuse me service when I purchase a bottle of wine? Is this not a situation envisioned by Justice Scalia of “professed doctrines of religious belief” becoming “superior to the law of the land and in effect permit every citizen to become a law unto himself”?

  31. Scout

    My quote from Justice Scalia had a typo: “processed religious beliefs” should have read “professed religious beliefs”. Sometimes there would be a big difference, sometimes not. I’ve seen and heard some professed religious beliefs that strike me as highly processed. But it wasn’t an accurate quote as I typed it.

  32. Kelly_3406

    I agree with you that cases such as these will be few and far in between. This scarcity of cases suggests it would not be anarchical at all. The Scalia ruling was overly broad and provides municipalities with the means to attack religious liberty. It is time to push back.

  33. Scout

    “push back” how? What is your limiting principle on the idea that a self-declared religious belief grants you the right to opt out of the Rule of Law?

  34. Kelly_3406

    The pushback will be in the form of civil disobedience and renewed culture wars. Much like Wolve referred to above.

    The latest example is the 10th Circuit Court’s decision that the Little Sisters of the Poor must abide by the contraception mandate in Obamacare to self-certify their religious objections. The nuns disagree with self-certification because they would be complicit in “designating someone else to provide abortion drugs” on their behalf.

    Their argument sounds very similar to the bakery argument — Christians do not want to be complicit in activities prohibited by their faith. Granted that one example is a federal law and the other a state law, but the principle for citizens is the same.

    Religious expression should allow someone to opt out of actions that require them to condone/be complicit in activities that run counter to their faith. It is not opting out of the “Rule of Law”, because the 1st Amendment expressly forbids laws that impede the free exercise of religion except in cases of compelling government interests. When a government entity invokes compelling interest for restricting religious expression, it should face strict scrutiny when being invoked. The burden of proof should be on the state to demonstrate a compelling interest, not on the individual to show why his religious convictions are what they are.

    1. Huge stretch. Back to what if my religion told me that miscegenation was sinful. Would it be illegal for me to not bake and sell a cake to a mixed couple?

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