Thursday, October 6, 2016

ADF takes another step towards becoming a certified hate group

Lorie Smith
At some point untruthful statements increase the probability that an organization will come to the attention of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian legal group, is again claiming that marriage equality is somehow a threat to Christians. In an unsigned email sent out to supporters this afternoon, ADF makes the remarkable claim that “Small business owner silenced from sharing her beliefs on her own website.”

This is about Lorie Smith again, the Colorado wedding designer who claims that she doesn't want to be forced to design a website for a same-sex wedding — not that she has ever been asked to do so mind you. She has not responded to an email requesting comment. Colorado law prohibits de facto discrimination (discrimination in fact). A public accommodation is prohibited from advertising that a protected class is unwelcome. Doing so is tantamount to refusing service. According to the email:
The government in Colorado is monopolizing the wedding industry, making it only acceptable for people who support same-sex marriage to be in business.
The owner of a public accommodation can hold any belief that they choose to hold. Ms. Smith might also believe that Jews are all going to Hell for not accepting Christ as their lord and savior. Yet she cannot refuse to design a website for a bar mitzvah because she holds that belief. No reasonable person would agree that designing a website for a Jewish teen is an insult to her religion as a conservative Christian. Similarly, no reasonable person believes that making a website for a same-sex wedding is an endorsement of same-sex marriage or homosexuality.

Let us be perfectly honest here. In general, people who need to express their disapproval of gay marriage are really wanting to express their disapproval of gay people. And a demonstration of that disapproval is what this is all about. That's ultimately what these people want to do by refusing service. The service itself is less relevant than the opprobrium. The reality is that Ms. Smith is demonstrating why nondiscrimination laws are important. The need is so compelling that Ms. Smith will allow ADF to destroy her business to make a point in spite of the fact that ADF has never won a similar case at trial or on appeal.
But a brave woman is standing up and refusing to let the government take away her freedom to express her faith.

Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Lorie Smith, owner of her own marketing and design business in Colorado, 303 Creative. Lorie has been prevented from expanding her business to include wedding-related projects because of a Colorado sexual orientation, gender identity law.
The “marketing” part is new. Smith is perfectly free to expand her business any way that she chooses to do so. Doing so and obeying Coloado's nondiscrimination laws are not mutually exclusive. As I pointed out previously, Smith's portfolio gives no indication that she ever designed so much as a single website for a wedding prior to Colorado's legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
As a result of this law, Lorie would face burdensome investigations, fines, and re-education mandates if she operates her business consistently with her belief that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman. But this law also goes one step further. It forbids her from even expressing her religious beliefs about marriage on her own website!
Someone at ADF thinks that “re-education” a la North Korea has some compelling value. ADF presupposes that her Free Exercise of religion requires her not to comply. Smith's notion of her own importance is just staggering. It is not an uncommon trait among people who discriminate.
Lorie is challenging the Colorado government on its unconstitutional law before it can be used against her, but the personal attacks and slander of her business have already started. Lorie is being called unthinkable things because she’s standing up to a government that has no right to dictate what she can and cannot express through her art.
Were these laws unconstitutional then sure ADF would have won at least one of these cases. One of them (Elane Photography v. Willock) went all the way to the Supreme Court after nearly ten years of unsuccessful litigation. They also have another case a few miles away in Lakewood; Masterpiece Cake Shop. Moreover, this will not be ruled as art. But ADF knows all that. They don't care. They even have a separate website for all of their losers.
Bullies try to make you feel small and intimidate you into silence. As you can imagine, this is difficult, and Lorie refuses to be silent. But she needs encouragement and your prayers. Please pray for Lorie as she challenges this unconstitutional law and her case progresses through the Colorado courts.
Someone in the Christian majority should probably never refer to bullies when the fair treatment of LGBT people is involved. If Smith is victimized it is at the hands of Alliance Defending Freedom.

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