Monday, January 20, 2014

Mullah Tony Perkins is wrong on the law and wrong about his faith

Not surprisingly Tony Perkins, head of Family Research Council, has added his one cent to the Oregon bakers, Aaron and Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa. These are the folks and the business that refused to bake a wedding cake for two lesbians. According to this evening's email blast:
Now, 12 months later, the state of Oregon is weighing in -- and not on the side of free speech and free exercise. Investigators from the state Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled late last week that the couple was guilty of discrimination and ordered the Kleins to settle. If they refuse, the Bureau threatens to bring "formal charges." Herbert Grey, the bakers' attorney, was flabbergasted. "They're being punished by the state of Oregon for refusing to participate in an event the state of Oregon does not recognize." Even the state constitution defines marriage the same way as Aaron and Melissa -- and they're being persecuted.

Where to begin? This has absolutely nothing to do with free speech. This is about conduct. Moreover, this has nothing to do with the free exercise of religion. Religion is not a license to refuse service contrary to the law. Don't take my word for it. Read Scalia's opinion, writing for the majority, in Employment Division v. Smith. The Supreme Court has never entertained religious exemptions to valid laws. To do so would make laws totally unenforceable. There exists no restraint on the Kleins' practice of their religion and baking a cake is not participation in the event for which it is baked. This might be clearer had the bakers refused a cake, on religious grounds, to a mixed race couple.

That attorney Mr. Perkins refers to would be Herbert G. Gray, a one-man practitioner out of Beaverton, OR. While Mr. Gray is displeased with the decision, there is no indication that he is "flabbergasted." Nevertheless, he should know better. There is no doubt that the Kleins operate a public accommodation. Furthermore the board  found substantial evidence that Sweet Cakes by Melissa unlawfully discriminated against the couple based on their sexual orientation. Whether or not the state currently recognizes same-sex marriage is entirely irrelevant.

Inevitably people want to know if the baker checks to see if any of the participants, for whom the Kleins are baking a cake, are re-marrying. Do they inquire about premarital sex, which makes the woman a "harlot?" Would they deny a cake to a Muslim couple? Their wedding would certainly be contrary to Christian faith. How about a bar mitzvah? You get the idea.

There is a very good reason for the selective observation pertaining solely to gay couples. It's part of a strategy because there exists no reasonable secular argument in opposition to marriage equality. There are no consequences if same-sex couples are wed. In 2009 National Organization for Marriage adopted a policy (among many others); “Behind Enemy Lines: Document the Victims — Keeping Gay Marriage Controversial in Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut.” NOM goes on to explain that victimization creates “an effective culture of resistance.” NOM insults our collective intelligence. We are capable of understanding exactly what is going on here. These people are victims of their own stupidity and prejudices.

Nevertheless, given this climate, attorneys from ADF are trolling for would-be “victims” around the country. Their words are repeated from the pulpit and people are willing to exercise defiance in order to become defenders of the faith. In other words there are people who are eager to find a circumstance to deny service to LGBT people knowing full well that they will be accountable to the law. They get free legal representation and believe that fellow Christians will flock to their establishment. It usually doesn't work out that way because far more people are offended by discrimination than those attracted to its practitioners. This leads me to the beginning of Perkins' email. Boo fucking hoo. It pretty much lays out precisely what I just wrote. By now the Kleins probably wish that they had just baked the cake. Ironically, this does not seem to deter others from sacrificing their businesses to make a point. If anything it seems to attract the holier-than-thou crowd who want to be "persecuted."

In a politically correct world, the costs of running a business are a lot more than dollars and cents. For Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of a small Oregon bakery, the price is their First Amendment rights. Their dream of opening a dessert shop near Portland, Oregon turned into a nightmare when two lesbians refused to take "no" for an answer on their request for a same-sex "wedding" cake.

Exactly one year ago, the Kleins explained that they couldn't take the order because it would violate their faith to participate in a same-sex "marriage" ceremony. Furious, the women filed a complaint with the state. The story made national headlines, as the young couple became another face in the war on religious liberty. "We still stand by what we believe from the beginning," Aaron told reporters. "I'm not sure what the future holds, but as far as where we're at right now... it's almost as if the state is hostile toward Christian businesses."

And the state isn't the only one. After word spread, the harassment in the liberal suburb of Portland became too much to take. The Kleins were forced to close the shop in Gresham and operate out of their home. Even there, the family was a target. Activists broke into their company truck and painted "bigot" across the side.
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