Home / General / “Pity the poor Christian photographer” is a tactic

“Pity the poor Christian photographer” is a tactic

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As I mentioned earlier, my views on the general approach embodied in RFRAs to protecting religious freedom as a general matter are complicated and conflicted, but my views on the political dynamic at work in the current push for them are not. Another reminder, via Dan Savage, comes this morning from Springfield, Missouri, where an effort to roll back civil rights and social equality for LGBT residents was, depressingly, successful:

Voters have narrowly repealed an LGBT-rights law in Springfield, Missouri, according to ballot results Tuesday night.

With all precincts reporting, the Greene County Clerk shows Question 1 passing 51.43% to 48.57%.

“We are very disappointed that we didn’t have the exact outcome that we wanted, but we are encouraged that the vote was so very close,” Crystal Clinkenbeard, a spokeswoman for the LGBT-rights campaign No Repeal, told BuzzFeed News.

The vote comes after a fierce clash between LGBT advocates and religious conservatives, who invoked campaign themes of Christian-owned businesses forced to sell products for gay weddings and cross-dressing predators lurking in women’s restrooms.

Whether one is personally sympathetic or not, it’s hard to deny that the image of the hard-working independent baker/florist/photographer, portrayed as perfectly decent to gay customers most of the time but bound to avoid participation in a same sex wedding ceremony not by animus but by deep personal religious conviction, is probably the most broadly sympathetic face those opposed to civil and social equality of LGBT people can construct for their movement. (And they need it: when the question is posed abstractly, the American public is much less conflicted about anti-discrimination protections than they are about same sex marriage.) But of course what happened in Springfield yesterday was not the carving out of a narrow exception–the citizenry not only overturned protection against discrimination in all public accommodations, they overturned it in housing and employment as well.

When we treat the current debate as being about whether we should carve out a very narrow, specific in anti-discrimination in public accommodations laws, we fall for a trap in two ways. First, because such a framing contributes to the widely held but false impression that anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people are widespread (for example: all the bad coverage of the Indiana law telling us it would “allow” what was already perfectly legal). Second, because for a significant number of the people pushing the ‘pity the poor photographer’ narrative, the photographer is little more than a wedge; a means to an end; an appealing and pitiable image designed to disguise a far uglier and less pitiable cause. This is a close cousin of the previous decade’s successful efforts to use the specter of Churches forced to solemnize same sex marriages to persuade voters to not only constitutionalize existing bans on same sex marriage, but also any legal recognition or protection whatsoever for their relationships and families.

As Dan Savage also notes, the short-term victories produced by the decision to maximally oppose any and all rights and protections for LGBT people, while occasionally still successful, comes at a very real cost in the long term:

When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? : “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”)

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  • Whether one is personally sympathetic or not, it’s hard to deny that the image of the hard-working independent baker/florist/photographer, portrayed as perfectly decent to gay customers most of the time but bound to avoid participation in a same sex wedding ceremony not by animus but by deep personal religious conviction, is probably the most broadly sympathetic face those opposed to civil and social equality of LGBT people can construct for their movement.

    Isn’t that deep personal religious conviction a form of animus, not a contrast?

    Seriously, is there any religious doctrine that forbids people providing services to marriages (other than officiating) outside their faith? From providing services to a purely secular event?

    It really is bigotry all the way down.

    • Joe_JP

      Yes, there is some religious doctrines that forbids taking part in certain things deemed to be immoral. Trying to be amateur comparative religion experts here and try to argue “not really” is silly at some point. The same to those who try to argue that Jesus didn’t talk about same sex marriage or something. It is pretty clear that for some, there is a personal religious (and yes that can overlap with animus) belief at work.

      Ultimately, at some point, it doesn’t matter. Religious free exercise is not absolute.

      • DrDick

        That is all well and good, but they bear the burden of presenting scriptural support for this position, which is totally absent.

        • Joe_JP

          Scriptural support? What if I get a special revelation ala Joseph Smith & write new scriptures. That work?

          • mds

            That work?

            Not for most of the people behind the push in Indiana, Arkansas, Georgia, and Springfield, who are primarily of the “complete, unchanging, inerrant Word of God” clown troupe, no.

      • Yes, there is some religious doctrines that forbids taking part in certain things deemed to be immoral.

        Can you give me an example of a religious doctrine that antedates the current gay marriage wars, that says that a believer may not make a wedding cake for someone outside their faith?

        Trying to be amateur comparative religion experts here and try to argue “not really” is silly at some point.

        So, two things. 1) it’s still animus against gays in most cases (ie if I can sell wedding cakes to non believers in general) and 2) current doctrine seems conveniently ad hoc, recent, and inconsistent (a la abortion opponents).

        Not all recent innovation would be ad hoc of course and being ad hoc doesn’t mean not protected, but come on.

        The same to those who try to argue that Jesus didn’t talk about same sex marriage or something. It is pretty clear that for some, there is a personal religious (and yes that can overlap with animus) belief at work.

        My first point stands. It’s both. For many it’s just animus.

        Ultimately, at some point, it doesn’t matter. Religious free exercise is not absolute.

        This has nothing to do with exercise. Religious animus might be protected. But it’s still animus.

        • Crusty

          “Can you give me an example of a religious doctrine that antedates the current gay marriage wars, that says that a believer may not make a wedding cake for someone outside their faith?”

          This example isn’t dead on, but in Judaism, Idolatry is a very strong no-no- an extreme no-no. So, the Jewish baker would theoretically be barred from baking a cake for a wedding ceremony taking place under the auspices of an Idol worshiping religion, but that same Jewish baker would be permitted to bake a cake for a Muslim wedding. While Islam is not Judaism, it is still a mono-theistic, Ibrahimic faith, so go ahead and sell all the cake you want.

          • djw

            the Jewish baker would theoretically be barred

            I think what Bijan is looking for is an actual concrete example of X, where X is a non-gay, pre-SSM version of “my sincere religious conviction compels me, a wedding services provider, to avoid commercial activity related to your wedding.” I’d be very curious to see if anyone can find an example.

            • Crusty

              What do you mean actual by actual concrete example? An historical example? An example where a religious text said, thou shalt not cater the gay wedding?

              If I asked a Rabbi if I should provide services to an idol worship ceremony (wedding or otherwise) he’d say no. I say theoretically, because I’ve never asked. The answer wouldn’t be the same for can I sell a cake to a gentile, can I sell a kosher steak to a gentile, etc.

              This is a very, very narrow example that only applies to idol worship. And the causal chain would be pretty short. If you’re in a generic business, let’s say you sold candles, you wouldn’t have to ask everyone what they’re using the candles for just to make sure it isn’t an idol worship ceremony.

              • Thanks! That’s very interesting.

                The divide of actually participating in some form rather than contributing a factor seems significant. Being a photographer or performer puts you “in the midst” the way that providing cake, flowers, invites, or a load does not.

                I don’t know how much weight I’d put on it but it’s intelligible.

            • This.

              For example, if you asked an observant Jew to bake a cake on the Sabbath, they could refuse because they can’t do that without violating variously religious prohibitions. Is there an example of one being prohibited to sell a wedding cake to someone getting married in a non recognized way?

    • djw

      I don’t necessarily disagree (a lot hinges on how we specifically characterize and operationalize ‘animus’); I mean to describe the image being presented here.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      when you’re on the wrong side of it, there isn’t a dime’s thickness of difference between ‘animus’ and ‘deep religious conviction’

      • ColBatGuano

        Folks who use the “religious beliefs” defense for discrimination are either:

        1) Followers of a religion which uses a flimsy doctrinal justification for anti-gay bigotry.

        2) Using “religious beliefs”to justify their anti-gay bigotry.

        There is no religious justification for their hatred.

  • ASV

    Still waiting for someone to cite the Bible verse that says, “Thou shalt not sell flowers to sinners.”

    • Joe_JP

      That’s not really the only way to determine if something is “religiously” motivated.

      • ASV

        What other methods do you have in mind to separate “religiously motivated” from “don’t want to”?

        • DrDick

          Exactly.

        • Randy

          The modern conservative Evangelical Christian has gone way past relying on Scripture for their religious teachings. They will also rely on TV preachers, radio hosts, and random internet crackpots.

          • I’d argue that most of their “religious” teachings come from TV preachers, radio hosts, and random internet crackpots. If you took a modern American Christian, sat ’em down, and had them read the Beatitudes, they’d never accept that it was from the Bible. Most of them really do seem to believe that the Bible consists of Adam and Eve, Noah, the one verse from Leviticus, and whatever they can remember from the Christmas story and the Book of Revelations.

        • Joe_JP

          What if, e.g., I don’t rely on “the Bible” or at least specific verses exactly saying things to determine my religious faith? If, e.g., my religion rests on the writings of some “saints” of a more modern vintage, do they not count? Or, if the believers rest on commentaries. For instance, many Catholic doctrines cannot merely be found by looking up biblical verses.

          • ThrottleJockey

            That’s the thing. Trying to ‘nail down’ if someone has a ‘good faith’ religious belief is ultimately futile. The Bible means what they think it means. Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics, Lutherans, etc have profound differences over what different passages mean and no one has a monopoly on ‘the truth’. Its ultimately purely subjective.

            • DAS

              I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well…are you religious or atheist?” He said, “Religious.” I said, “Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?” He said, “Christian.” I said, “Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?” He said, “Baptist!” I said,”Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?” He said, “Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?” He said,”Reformed Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic scum”, and pushed him off. — Emo Phillips

              • Hogan

                That might be my favorite joke ever.

    • Hogan

      Well, we do know Jesus refused to associate with prostitutes and taxgatherers and . . . oh shit.

      • DrDick

        Yep. The reality is that the Rabbi Yeshua made a lot of proclamations that run directly counter to these laws.

        • rm

          Radical Middle Eastern Cleric Sides With Criminals

        • Joe_JP

          That guy is a troublesome hippie who wasn’t even white. We here in anti-gay land support Jesus H. Christ, not some Jewish guy.

          • mds

            So who’s going to tell them the H. stands for “Herschel”?

            • heckblazer

              I thought it was “Haploid”.

              • Warren Terra

                Can’t be. Could in theory be homozygous, but then Jesus would be anatomically female. Unless maybe he’s testosterone-insensitive?

        • DAS

          Something tells me most of the so-called Christians behind these laws also don’t have a clue as to what the Samaritans were up to and what kind of statement Jesus made when he told a parable about a good Samaritan.

          • Now I am intrigued. What WERE they up to?
            [apart from that sneaky business of only accepting the Pentateuch].

            • Malaclypse

              What happens on Mount Gerizim stays on Mount Gerizim.

        • What were his positions on almonds and beef? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Lee Rudolph

      Consider the lilies of the field; they do not toil, neither do they spin, but they are fabulous!

  • Gwen

    The law might be overly-broad with regard to the definition of public accommodations.

    But I agree generally. The focus on “religious freedom” is about flipping-the-script. It’s a way to scare people into thinking the gay-rights-patrols are coming for THEM and not just the most obnoxious bigots.

  • Malaclypse

    Been a long time since I was current on this literature, but it used to be thought that one of the reasons Europe had lower levels of religious attachment than America was that no church in America allied itself with feudalism.

    I suspect this is another “first as tragedy then as farce” moments in history.

    • TribalistMeathead

      I wonder how religiosity in liberal democracies that have an official national church compares with religiosity in liberal democracies that don’t.

    • Randy

      Tocqueville discussed that very point, and concluded that the strength of religious belief in America was due to the lack of an official church.

    • rm

      But churches in America allied with slavery, and that still affects us. Unfortunately, too many American Christians are still following the completely backwards anti-christianity that Frederick Douglass described as the religion of the land.

      For some of us people of faith, it’s very disheartening to see that American Christianity is defined by hatefulness, exclusion, segregation, tribalism, basically all the evils Jesus was against. Me, I think Jesus is all for inclusion and universal rights. I think this translation of Matthew 5:41 is exactly right: “If someone forces you to bake a cake for a gay wedding, bake for them two,” though I agree with the blogger that there is actually nothing unjust about the baking scenario, as there was about the Roman law conscripting people into carrying stuff for soldiers. But if you think a gay wedding is wrong, the real Christian response would be to go beyond the call of duty in providing wonderful cakes.

      • Malaclypse

        But churches in America allied with slavery, and that still affects us.

        It does, but (and this is meant more as a question) I don’t think that the national image of Real True Christians in 1850 was pro-slavery. Somehow, now, despite the obvious existence of UUs, Quakers, Disciples of Christ, etc, Real True Christians are now Republicans, in a way that I don’t think is comparable to the 1850s.

        • Steve LaBonne

          The Liberal Media deserve a lot of the blame for that. (P.S. UUs really aren’t Christians, except for a fairly small minority who identify as such.)

          • Malaclypse

            (P.S. UUs really aren’t Christians, except for a fairly small minority who identify as such.)

            I pondered their inclusion in my list. But there are non-Christian Quakers, and yet they seem to belong on the list. I suppose I was thinking of historical roots…

            • Steve LaBonne

              Fair enough! But the real puzzle is that there are several times as many UCC members, who are incontrovertibly Christians, as UUs, and that’s just one of a number of mainstream Protestant denominations that staunchly oppose homophobia. Yet all these millions of people seem largely invisible to the media. Maybe it’s because journalists are more likely to be non-churchgoers than liberal Christians, so they actually don’t know the latter exist?

              • Malaclypse

                Maybe if you all would follow through on this, we would all get some visibility ;-)

                • Steve LaBonne

                  Heh, I wish. With actual UUs it’s generally all you can do to get them to even think about telling anyone we exist. It’s slowly changing, but for a long time “evangelizing” was a very dirty word.

                • efgoldman

                  With actual UUs it’s generally all you can do to get them to even think about telling anyone we exist.

                  Well, I broadcast a UU service every Sunday for ~16 years (and it was done before me, and is still done.) I must have had as many as, oh, 20 or 25 listeners, at least when the weather was bad and they couldn’t get to church.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  Look at it this way: all those radio signals are spreading out across the galaxy. They may not be as many or as strong as those have emanated from Kathryn Kuhlman, Garner Ted Armstrong, R. W. Schumbach, or The Bible Answer Man—but they’re out there, and maybe they’ll convince our galactic neighbors not to immediately terminate us with extreme prejudice!

      • Hogan

        Mark Twain said he’d accompany with anyone who asked him on a walk, because the Bible says, “Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”

      • Stag Party Palin

        RM – thanks for that reference. I didn’t know it and it’s perfect.

  • Joe_JP

    My sentiment is as often “doesn’t really sound that Christian to me” … at least, the Christianity I prefer. But, yes, it’s a wedge. A camel’s nose under the tent. And, it won’t be consistently applied, especially citing “Christian” photographers. I have already seen Christian law professors try to sell that it’s okay to treat gays differently than blacks.

    • DrDick

      And their forefathers said the same things about blacks. Deploying religion in behalf of bigotry has a long history in this country.

  • ThrottleJockey

    I pretty strongly agree with everything you’ve written here, djw, especially how conservative Christians will end up on the wrong side of history. I do support conscience clauses, however (as in regulations allowing individual pharmacists to opt out of Plan B dispensing though the drugstore must find someone else to dispense it). I wonder if some similar compromise might be innthe offing here? For me, at least, religious identity is every bit as precious as other forms of identity including racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation. I hope we can find some compromise that protects everyone’s identity.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      oh for crying out loud. how in the world does it compromise your identity to be decent to someone else?

      • AcademicLurker

        oh for crying out loud. how in the world does it compromise your identity to be decent to someone else?

        When the identity at issue is “raging asshole bigot”, the question answers itself.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          there is *that*

          • ThrottleJockey

            Its not for me to judge someone else’s religion. There are Muslim cabdrivers in Minneapolis who think its a sin to drive people to bars or to transport alcohol. Second guessing someone’s religious beliefs is as wrong as second guessing their sexual orientation. I mean you don’t have to agree with the beliefs to acknowledge that they’re entitled to them. I believe that a white supremacist church is entitled to the same amount of deference as Ebenezer Baptist Church. I may think the beliefs are vile, but I believe they have a right to practice their beliefs.

            • Steve LaBonne

              Right up to the point where those beliefs affect non-members of their church. Because that’s what it means to live in a secular society.

            • Malaclypse

              There are Muslim cabdrivers in Minneapolis who think its a sin to drive people to bars or to transport alcohol.

              How did that work out?

    • DrDick

      I am somewhat inclined to allow conscience clauses that apply only to individuals, but they should never be extended to businesses. A pharmacist might be justified in taking that position, but a pharmacy has no religion or beliefs.

      • Steve LaBonne

        Strongly disagree with any such “conscience clause”. If there are completely normal aspects of a completely normal job that conflict with your beliefs, you’re in the wrong job.

        • rm

          Exactly. If your religious beliefs are completely pacifist, you can ask not to be drafted, but you can’t join the Army and then refuse to follow orders.

          A belief like that might require some serious choices, even sacrifice. That no one wants to quit their pharmacy job over the issue is a clue that the opposition to plan B is factually ignorant bullshit, and most who spout that position at least suspect so.

          • ThrottleJockey

            As a matter of law you actually can join the Army and then cite conscientious objector status. Its totally legal.

        • DrDick

          Which is why I am only “somewhat inclined”. I do not really support it, even for individuals, but think an argument can be made. No such argument can be made for a business, which has no conscience or soul.

          • ThrottleJockey

            Both religious liberty and non-discrimination are pretty core values of mine so I go back and forth on this issue from time to time. Because these values of mine are in conflict I’d like to see a compromise. There might be something to letting an individual employee opt out of, say, photographing a gay wedding while insisting that the photography shop find another employee to do so (or contract with another photography shop to do so).

            • Steve LaBonne

              Religious liberty is a shield, not a sword. There is no valid “religious liberty” argument for discrimination.

              • ColBatGuano

                Bingo.

            • DrDick

              Those are also core values of mine, but their religious liberty does not give them the right to discriminate against me any more than it gave their parents and grandparents the right to discriminate against blacks (and they used the same excuses then).

              • ThrottleJockey

                Yeah, I’m aware of the history here. Still let’s say I walk into a Jewish bakery and order a “Happy Birthday Louis Farakhan” cake. Should the Jewish shop have to provide it? No.

                To be honest, if a redneck doesn’t want to serve me I’m more than happy to take my business elsewhere. I don’t want them to have my money.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  What is “a Jewish bakery”?

                  Is it an ordinary bakery, that makes all kinds of baked goods, but is owned and staffed exclusively by Jews (observant, atheist, or whatever)? If so, then hell yes they ought to fill an order for such a birthday cake (if spelling out that particular greeting in icing is triggery for everyone on staff, they can order the cake from a competitor if necessary).

                  If it’s a bakery with a very limited line of goods, specializing exclusively in hamantaschen and other pastries (less familiar to me) that are “culturally Jewish”, then (whether it’s owned and staffed only by Jews, by Jews and others, or by former bean-pie bakers) it seems reasonable that it needn’t bake any birthday cakes whatever.

                • Warren Terra

                  ThrottleJockey,
                  I think it’s fair to say they have to sell you the same cake they’d sell anyone else. They might have rules about the decorations they put on the cake, in keeping with their principles and with good taste: thus, it’s OK to refuse to decorate with swastikas, phalli, encomiums to Cthulhu, etcetera. And maybe this means no paired plastic brides, even though they’d happily put one plastic bride and one plastic groom; maybe it means no “Happy Birthday Farrakhan”, if they decide “Farrakhan” is a hate word inconsistent with their policy. But they should still have to sell the nice Black Muslim gentleperson that cake, undecorated or incompletely decorated, at the normal price – maybe even a discount for the lack of decoration.

                  Lee Rudolph,
                  It is possibly hard to codify, but I’ve been in Jewish Bakeries, and it really wasn’t ambiguous (especially if they’re kashered and sell a lot of bagels and strudel). I’m also fond of a nearby Armenian bakery, and I’d never ask them to make a birthday confection for Attaturk, or for Erdogan, even though they make lovely confections and if so inclined I’d want to be able to but one and decorate it for Attaturk myself.

      • SgtGymBunny

        I would wager that any pharmacist trying to opt of dispensing Plan B on grounds of “conscience” is a raging bigot or just stupid. Plan B is not an “abortion” pill, as in it can’t abort a fetus. It simply prevents pregnancy like a high single-dose birth control pill. If he’s a pharmacist, he knows this, but I imagine his “conscience” just can’t tolerate some women-folk having sexy time and not getting their just desserts. Hussies…

        • witlesschum

          They’re allowed to have their own science, per the majority of the Supreme Court. I got an email today from a wingnut pediatricians organization which someone has set up presumably because they can’t get to the real one to spout the lies they push about abortion.

        • ThrottleJockey

          I wholly agree with you on the science, but I don’t think that’s the dispositive issue. Religious liberty/freedom of conscience is a real thing to me, and what matters is what articles of faith a person holds, not whether or not they’re scientifically based. Or even whether or not the views are sexist, racist, homophobic, or otherwise vile. I don’t believe we can be a truly tolerant society unless we tolerate intolerance.

          • Steve LaBonne

            You’re free to hold whatever beliefs you like. You are not free to use them as a weapon against people who do not share them.

            • ThrottleJockey

              And I don’t really think that becoming professionally licensed (in reference to Sharc’s points above) means you’re a slave to society’s views, nor that exercising your conscience means that you’ve ‘weaponized’ your beliefs. Someone might hold a belief in opposition to yours. That’s to be expected in a pluralistic democracy. That’s ok. So long as the pharmacy provides the Plan B, why do I care if Pharmacist Billy Bob has Pharmacist Nancy Jo dispense it?

              • Malaclypse

                What if Nancy Jo is on vacation until next week? What if she works at a pharmacy 35 miles away, and your car broke down last week?

                Serious question: if the pharmacist was Christian Identity and said he wouldn’t serve blacks, would you be okay with that? Let’s just imagine someone loudly saying “My religion says I can’t serve you” and walking away. People are staring. You don’t know if someone else is coming, all you know is that you have just been denied care. All you know is that something that goes well for most people – the simple filling of a prescription – has just been denied to you.

                That’s what “conscience clauses” do to women. Full stop.

                • djw

                  It’s amazing, given our nation’s history, how many people are able to think through these issues with the operational assumption that sincerely held religiously motivated racist views are such an extravagantly and obviously fictional possibility that we can simply proceed as if such a possibility is unthinkable.

              • ColBatGuano

                If you can’t perform the duties of the job you are paid to do, then you should find another line of work.

          • Malaclypse

            Religious liberty/freedom of conscience is a real thing to me, and what matters is what articles of faith a person holds, not whether or not they’re scientifically based..

            Bullshit. If someone sincerely believes that some people are witches and should be burnt, their sincerity is entirely besides the point.

            I don’t believe we can be a truly tolerant society unless we tolerate intolerance.

            Was the 1964 CRA bad law? A simple yes or no will work fine.

          • KmCO

            I logged onto this site and saw that this thread had ballooned to over 100 comments in a fairly short period of time and had one thought: Throttle Jockey. I see that his concern trolling, clueless chauvinism, and willful misrepresentation of liberal ideals are in top form. Let the popcorn* munching commence.

            *Substitute popcorn for sweet potato chips, but yeah.

            • Substitute popcorn for sweet potato chips,

              Heretic!

          • Warren Terra

            Religious liberty/freedom of conscience is a real thing to me, and what matters is what articles of faith a person holds, not whether or not they’re scientifically based.

            So, you’d let the drug store refuse to sell kleenex to teenage boys?

            • sparks

              Hey, teenage girls too. Now I know I’ve read too much manga.

    • witlesschum

      The previous understanding of anti-discrimination laws that say if you want to be in business, you can’t refuse service to people for a number of specified reasons was working just fine as far as I could see. The reason we should break it those who dislike gays as opposed to those who dislike Jews continues to not be clear. Do we think the gay-haters are more sincere? The poor weddding photographer is as much bullshit as the other argumetns against such laws always were.

      If you’re such a delicate flower that you can’t sell your services or goods to someone unless you 100 percent agree that they’re good people, you can’t be in business. And I absolutely don’t support conscience clauses for people who don’t want to sell contraception. If you’re a Muslim who wants to work at the pork store, you’ve got to reconcile that in your own mind.

    • efgoldman

      I do support conscience clauses, however (as in regulations allowing individual pharmacists to opt out of Plan B dispensing though the drugstore

      Sorry, no. This is bullshit. Pharmacists practice thru state exams and state licenses. Don’t want to dispense some perfectly legal drugs? Find another fucking way to make a living and turn in your license.

      • sharculese

        Exactly this. Once we start talking about high status jobs with licensing requirements, we’re talking about a privilege that comes with a corresponding duty to society- if you can’t execute that duty then I’m not sympathetic to granting you that privilege.

        • Crusty

          So every ob/gyn must offer abortion services?

          • Steve LaBonne

            If I were in charge? Damn straight. Women are dying because Catholic hospitals won’t practice reproductive medicine properly.

            • tribble

              I’d settle for every hospital being required to offer abortion services for exactly that reason. Hospitals are businesses (non-profit or otherwise). Their certification should require that they provide a certain range of services.

              Currently Catholic hospitals prevent doctors who are willing to provide abortions from doing so. If, by some chance, there is a hospital staffed only with doctors unwilling to perform abortions, they can damn well hire one or two.

          • DrDick

            I would not be opposed to such a requirement. It might even force Tom Coburn to retire from the profession.

            • Crusty

              I would be opposed to such a requirement on the grounds of professional autonomy. Doctors should be the ones who have control over the procedures they perform, the methods they use, what they do and don’t do- its part of being a professional. A doc should no more be required to provide an abortion than he should be required to provide breast implants.

              • Malaclypse

                Has anybody ever bled out because they couldn’t get safe, legal breast implants?

                • Crusty

                  The point is that the medical profession, and individual practitioners must have a certain level of autonomy for it to work. Otherwise, we’re down a road where medical device makers will lobby for the mandatory use of their products, etc. It has to be doctors deciding what doctors will do.

                  And people leave the country to get inexpensive breast implants and have horrible complications from doing so somewhat frequently.

                • SgtGymBunny

                  Ehhh… Having control over the procedures they do or don’t do is fine until someone is in a life-threatening situation and the nearest doctor who will do the procedure, at best, is one county–nay, state–over. If the doc has the skill, equipment and staff to do the procedure but refuses for reasons unrelated… Ummm, I don’t know about you, but that’s some scary sounding shit to me. Do you want to be rolled into that doctor’s office on a gurney after a car wreck?

                • Malaclypse

                  The point is that the medical profession, and individual practitioners must have a certain level of autonomy for it to work.

                  Right. But a doctor that chooses to withhold needed care is a horrible doctor and should have his/her license revoked.

                  Insisting that abortion is comparable to breast implants perhaps illustrates things other than what you were hoping.

                • efgoldman

                  But a doctor that chooses to withhold needed care is a horrible doctor and should have his/her license revoked.

                  Within my lifetime, doctors and hospitals in this country were allowed to refuse care to patients because their skin was the wrong color. I’m sure they had “consciences” too.

              • Steve LaBonne

                Nope. They should have chosen a different specialty if the one they decided to pursue includes types of care that violate their beliefs. As I pointed out, failure to enforce this principle has real, fatal consequences. And by the way, “religious” opposition to abortion has extremely recent and shallow roots in Christianity.

                • Malaclypse

                  And by the way, “religious” opposition to abortion has extremely recent and shallow roots in Christianity.

                  Exactly. Anybody interested should read this.

                • Crusty

                  I am making a slippery slope argument about professional autonomy and the medical profession.

                  As an aside, sarcasm, snark and condescension aren’t necessary. Neither is it helpful to throw out terms like misogynist when someone sees an issue differently than you. Most of the people on this site think they’re oh so much better than the next guy, for no good reason. There’s some good discussion sometimes, but often its just a grating echo-chamber contest to see who can out-righteous the next.

                • Steve LaBonne

                  A concern troll AND a tone troll. It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping!

                • Weed Atman

                  Steve, your argument just lost 50 points on the Esper-Crusty Snark Scale.

                • ColBatGuano

                  I am making a slippery slope argument about professional autonomy and the medical profession.

                  And slippery slope arguments are almost uniformly terrible.

              • Hogan

                A doc should no more be required to provide an abortion than he should be required to provide breast implants.

                Wow. You might have chosen a worse analogy, but it’s hard to see how.

                • Steve LaBonne

                  The misogyny always, always comes through pretty quickly in discussions of this kind. Because that’s really what it’s all about.

                • Crusty

                  No, not really. I happen to be quite pro-choice. I also recognize the implications of telling medical professionals what to do. Just wait ’til congress requires everyone to have an Acme Corp. pace-maker inserted in them thanks to the lobbying efforts of Acme Corp.

                • Malaclypse

                  Just wait ’til congress requires everyone to have an Acme Corp. pace-maker inserted in them thanks to the lobbying efforts of Acme Corp.

                  I’m sure someone somewhere has made a sillier slippery-slope argument, but I can’t think of who or where.

                • Hogan

                  You’re really not improving the analogy by making that the bottom of your slippery slope. Should we allow doctors to withhold white blood from blacks who need transfusions?

                • Crusty

                  “You’re really not improving the analogy by making that the bottom of your slippery slope. Should we allow doctors to withhold white blood from blacks who need transfusions?”

                  Medical ethics already prevent that.

                • Steve LaBonne

                  Medical ethics also prevent letting women die because a hospital is religiously controlled, yet it happens and isn’t punished. Funny that.

                • Hogan

                  Medical ethics already prevent that.

                  So much for professional autonomy.

                • DrDick

                  Any doctor who refuses to perform necessary and medically appropriate procedures should lose their license. Period. Should your cardiologist be allowed to refuse to prescribe medicines because he is a Christian Scientist?

                • Crusty

                  “Medical ethics already prevent that.”

                  “So much for professional autonomy.”

                  Congratulations on your induction into the Dunning-Kruger Hall of Fame.

                • Hogan

                  Hey, I’m not the one who doesn’t understand the concept of elective surgery.

                • djw

                  I’m somewhat amused to note that you posted this comment a full 15 minutes after this:

                  As an aside, sarcasm, snark and condescension aren’t necessary.

                  How quickly things change. I think I might actually agree with the position you’re sort of defending here, but I can’t exactly blame people for being exasperated with you, as you’ve explained and defended it in an opaque and belligerent manner, with poor and confusing analogies.

                  (My hunch is that you meant ‘let the doctors decide’ in the collective sense of let them set their own professional rules about what services must be provided by what kinds of specialists and what services may be optional, and keep the politicians out of it unless the AMA clearly goes completely off the rails.’

                • Four Krustys

                  I’m sure someone somewhere has made a sillier slippery-slope argument, but I can’t think of who or where.

                  “Pardon me, Sir”
                  “Do you have anything that will make a slope extremely slippery?”
                  “I want the slipperiest slope imaginable. The most slippery slope you can have is the kind of slope that I want”
                  “I want this because of reasons”

              • I would be opposed to such a requirement on the grounds of professional autonomy.

                Say what?

                I don’t think professional autonomy includes not doing medically necessary procedures because one personally finds them icky.

                Doctors should be the ones who have control over the procedures they perform, the methods they use, what they do and don’t do- its part of being a professional.

                As some one pointed out below: Doctor informed boards, sure. Individual doctors…not so much. If an OB/GYN refuses to recommend, discuss, or (if competent and a bunch of other circumstances) perform an abortion, and the abortion is the appropriate standard of care, and the women is harmed from lack of that care, I rather suspect they will have a (losing) malpractice suit.

                Oh look! Malpractice! That’s a thing.

                A doc should no more be required to provide an abortion than he should be required to provide breast implants.

                Er…this is just you inserting some medical judgement of some sort, right? I mean, try “A surgeon should no more be required to wash their hands between surgery than she should be required to provide hanky’s for sniffles.”

                You aren’t making a claim about professional autonomy, but about abortion. And it’s a bad claim to make about abortion, esp. if you purport to be pro-choice or care about women’s health.

        • ThrottleJockey

          Said another way: “If society forces you to get a license to practice your occupation, you must agree to drop your conscience as well.”

          By virtue of forcing to comply with one hurdle, you then say they’ve agreed to jump through any other hurdle as well. You can see why this problematic?

          • SgtGymBunny

            Said another way: “If society forces you to get a license to practice your occupation, you must agree to drop your conscience as well.”

            Who forced him to get a license to practice? He can practice without a license… Scrupulous customers may avoid his business, but it’s still an option, right?

          • Malaclypse

            Can a surgeon who is a Jehovah’s Witness refuse to give a blood transfusion?

            • efgoldman

              Can a surgeon who is a Jehovah’s Witness refuse to give a blood transfusion?

              As a practical matter, such an individual wouldn’t take up medicine, especially surgery, as a career.
              Different question? Can a Jewish hospital close their ER/Trauma Center on Saturday?

              • Hogan

                That would be some hardcore Judaism. Get me three Shabbos goyim, stat!

              • Warren Terra

                Can a Jewish hospital close their ER/Trauma Center on Saturday?

                No, because it’s always permissible to work on the Sabbath to save lives in case of emergencies. Similarly, you can eat leavened breads during Passover if that’s the only way to avert famine.

                But they could close everything elective or scheduled during the Sabbath.

            • Lee Rudolph

              A brief Google search turns up a Disqus profile for “Dr. Lowell Dixon, a Jehovah’s Witness surgeon, has written numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical journals, many of them on alternatives to blood …” (the ellipsis points presumably stand in for “transfusion”), suggesting that the answer is “yes” (and indicating where you might find a definitive answer).

              • You’re sure that the ellipsis didn’t stand for “drinking”?

          • sharculese

            Conscience isn’t immunity from being part of civilized society.

            If your beliefs don’t permit you to execute the duties of desired chosen profession, you don’t get the privilege of belonging to that profession.

          • Said another way: “If society forces you to get a license to practice your occupation, you must agree to drop your conscience as well.”

            Well, said a non silly way: Professions with enormous professional power have associated regulation. We let doctors cut people open and poison them. We require them to put aside some of their personal stuff and act according to professional standards. And that’s fine!

            By virtue of forcing to comply with one hurdle, you then say they’ve agreed to jump through any other hurdle as well. You can see why this problematic?

            Can I see why you conceptualisation is problematic? Yes, yes I can.

        • sharculese

          Yes.

    • rea

      If one is too virtuous to engage in commerce with all comers, then one ought not to attempt to engage in commerce.

      • rm

        Commerce is the new communion.

    • Malaclypse

      I do support conscience clauses, however (as in regulations allowing individual pharmacists to opt out of Plan B dispensing though the drugstore must find someone else to dispense it).

      Should I be able to enlist in the Army, then opt out of serving as a Quaker, yet demand to still draw a paycheck? Because that’s the equivalent of what you are supporting, so I just want to know if you are consistent, as opposed to simply not caring about women’s health.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        the question i have in addition to yours is, if we can’t compel the pharmacist to dispense something, how can we compel them to find someone who *will*?

      • gmack

        Serious question (I don’t have time to look it up): Isn’t (or was it in the past, when we had a draft) fairly common practice to assign conscientious objectors, when they were drafted, service that didn’t violate their beliefs (e.g., assigning them to, say, nursing duty or some such)? If so, are/were those arrangements generally acceptable?

        • Hogan

          It started here in WWI and continued in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

        • Malaclypse

          But that aspect is moot, as we don’t have a draft, nor have we ever drafted pharmacists. If you want to make a living in the Army, you need to serve. And if you want to make a living as a pharmacist, you need to fill the prescriptions you are given.

          • efgoldman

            nor have we ever drafted pharmacists.

            I’m not sure that’s true. They drafted doctors for Vietnam, and for all I know, for WW2. I’m guessing they drafted pharmacists, too. Although by Vietnam, many (most?) military pharmacists received their training in the service.

            • Malaclypse

              I was trying to say that your local CVS doesn’t draft pharmacists – they choose that profession, knowing that it involves the filling of prescriptions.

    • Weed Atman

      I do support conscience clauses, however (as in regulations allowing individual pharmacists to opt out of Plan B dispensing though the drugstore must find someone else to dispense it)

      That pharmacist should have chosen a different line of work. It’s really that simple.

      • I don’t know if pharmacists are bound or have analogous principles, but the AMA code of medical ethics states in the preamble:

        VIII. A physician shall, while caring for a patient, regard responsibility to the patient as paramount.

        This is in an interesting tension with:

        VI. A physician shall, in the provision of appropriate patient care, except in emergencies, be free to choose whom to serve, with whom to associate, and the environment in which to provide medical care.

        VIII strongly suggests that personal conscience should not be overriding but subordinated to the patient’s interest. How far this might go is interesting (generally they aren’t required to perform non-emergency pro bono work).

        • This is interesting (I’ve had discussions about abandonment):

          Medical malpractice dominates the headlines, but a more basic legal question involving medical care is the affirmative duty, if any, to provide medical treatment. The historical rule is that a physician has no duty to accept a patient, regardless of the severity of the illness. A physician’s relationship with a patient was understood to be a voluntary, contracted one. Once the relationship was established, the physician was under a legal obligation to provide medical treatment and was a fiduciary in this respect. (A fiduciary is a person with a duty to act primarily for the benefit of another.)

          Once the physician-patient relationship exists, the physician can be held liable for an intentional refusal of care or treatment, under the theory of Abandonment. (Abandonment is an intentional act; negligent lack of care or treatment is medical malpractice.) When a treatment relationship exists, the physician must provide all necessary treatment to a patient unless the relationship is ended by the patient or by the physician, provided that the physician gives the patient sufficient notice to seek another source of medical care. Most doctors and hospitals routinely ensure that alternative sources of treatment—other doctors or hospitals—are made available for patients whose care is being discontinued.

  • Joshua

    Florists come to the venue hours before anyone shows up, puts down their flowers, collects the check, and drives away hours before anyone shows up. They can’t do that knowing that the people who will be showing up long after they are gone are gay? Come on. If the very same gay couple walked into their shop, bought a dozen roses, and walked out, would they refuse service? Of course not.

    Same thing with a baker. I didn’t even meet the people who made the cake for my wedding. Even if I did, it’s one tasting and then they deliver it the day of. Making a cake for a wedding is a financial transaction, not the end result of a deep analysis of the value system of the participants. And that’s a good thing.

    • NonyNony

      Some High Priests of various religions have dictated that if you assist anyone in taking part in a sin, you are sinning as well. Some of these same High Priests have declared gay marriage a sin. Therefore if gay marriage is a sin and you are helping a gay couple get married you are guilty of the sin of gay marriage.

      Look it doesn’t hold up to logic (providing flowers for a wedding that can take place with or without flowers is clearly not the same as helping a murderer kill someone) but if religion was logical we wouldn’t call it religion.

      • Hogan

        The sin isn’t gay marriage; it’s being gay, or (in its milder form) being gay and doing anything about it. If providing flowers to a gay wedding is participating in a sin, then so is selling food and clothing to gay people, or selling them a house, or giving them medical care. Fixating on the wedding is letting people off the hook (or, as djw says, the thin edge of the wedge).

        • NonyNony

          The sin isn’t gay marriage; it’s being gay, or (in its milder form) being gay and doing anything about it.

          Nope, sorry. I mean, yes, being gay is a sin in their eyes but in the last decade or so it’s progressed beyond that. Being gay is a sin but also the act of gay marriage is a separate sin – denounced from the pulpit as a blasphemous mockery of a religious sacrament.

          The High Priests of these religions are very evil people – if I believed in Satan I would assume that they were all secretly Satanists out to subvert Christianity to a mockery of itself. But since I don’t – and I understand the history of religion – it’s pretty obvious that they’re just hateful people with ingrained bigotry and enough power to make their own bigotry equivalent to proclamations by God.

          But make no mistake – the act of marriage between same sex couples has become a separate sin from being gay in their eyes.

      • DAS

        If religion were logical we wouldn’t call it religion? Then what is Judaism? We are very logical. What we do might not make any sense, but it very much follows its own internal logic. Haven’t you ever heard of Talmudic reasoning? ;)

      • djw

        This is a useful wrinkle to keep in mind with respect to the weaponization hypothesis I floated last week. It’s a mistake to assume it’s weaponization all the way down. It’s often movement leaders and elites really doing the weaponizing; that they can induce sincerity in their followers is part of what makes the weapon potentially effective.

    • witlesschum

      And they’re just being incoherent. I got purposely married by a judge because neither of us believe in supernaturalism of any sort and because the judge wouldn’t insist on pre-marital classes or whatever. I’m not married in the eyes of god and their Bible explicitly condemns me a lot more than it does Adam and Steve and yet they’re not worried about selling me flowers.

      If a flower shop wanted to set itself up as a religious organization who only wanted to do business with people in good standing with their religion, perhaps there might be a way to do that.

      • mds

        “Welcome to the Flower Shop of the Holy Trinity. No gays. No adulterers or other fornicators. No blasphemers. No liars. No Sabbath breakers. No customers.”

        • Hogan

          No Arians. No Sabellians. Absolutely no Gnostics, whether Valentinian, Ophite or Cainite.

          No filioque, no service.

  • They do have a strange fixation on gays.

    There are hundreds of sins listed in the Bible but all the evangelicals want to talk about is sex, and especially gay sex.

    • Steve LaBonne

      For the ones who aren’t actually closet cases, naturally they’d rather talk about a sin committed by Other People than about the ones they themselves commit all the time.

      • DAS

        Even (perhaps especially) for the ones that are closet cases but haven’t acted on that, they would rather talk about a sin committed by Other People (that they secretly wish they were committing themselves) than the ones they actually commit all the time.

        • SgtGymBunny

          That’s what’s odd to me. Were I in their shoes, I’d be deflecting, changing the subject, or having sudden bouts of IBS anytime the topic came up. Or I’d just reply to everything with “I am saved!” They can’t argue against that. It’s like the fundie version of circle-circle-dot-dot.

    • TribalistMeathead

      I think the reason evangelicals like to focus on denying rights to gays and not (in their definition) sinners and not, say, gluttons, or gossips, or divorcees, is the fact that the latter three would have a negative impact on them.

      • KmCO

        I think it’s deeper than that. The reason that homosexuality weighs so heavily in their minds–as opposed to other “sins” of the flesh–is the prurient nature of it. Homophobes are as fascinated by the thought of gay sex as they are repulsed by it. All carnal “sins” have a hold over absolutists’ minds, but anything involving sex (especially “forbidden” sex, and more especially something that is mysterious and intriguing to them, as same-sex sexual activities are) is even more powerful over their psyches.

    • Crusty

      That’s because its just so tempting.

  • ThrottleJockey

    Does anyone else find that on the mobile version of the site that there are no “Reply” buttons?

    • sharculese

      The mobile version doesn’t let you nest comments, but you can view the non-mobile version on your phone.

  • DAS

    I always wonder about how one goes about deciding when a law or regulation or standard unduly interferes with religious practice and when it does not.

    For an (admittedly pre-Smith, pre-RFRA) comparison, you have SCOTUS ruling in Sherbert v. Verner that you cannot deny unemployment compensation for someone who was fired for refusing to work on Saturday, yet in Gallagher v. Crown Kosher SCOTUS ruled that you can force businesses to close on Sundays, which also attaches a strong financial penalty to those who observe a Saturday Sabbath.

    Admittedly there are many differences in these cases, but is the real difference in the ruling that Sherbert was Christian and Crown Kosher was owned by Jews? I wonder if a Jewish person was fired for refusing to work on Saturdays or turned down a job (and was subsequently denied unemployment insurance) because the job only had 2 weeks vacation/sick days with no floating holidays nor flexibility to work on alternate days (which means that if the Jewish person took off for all of the chagim, s/he would have no sick days left or anything), would the courts side with the Jewish person’s free exercise?

    • Joe_JP

      Brennan wanted to allow Orthodox Jews to be open on Sundays but didn’t have the votes. Sherbert v. Verner was easier since it was a more narrow governmental benefit scheme with religion being another form of exemption. If some Jewish person was involved in that case, no reason to think s/he would be treated any different. Jehovah Witnesses have benefited from it.

      • efgoldman

        If some Jewish person was involved in that case, no reason to think s/he would be treated any different.

        My example, since the Indiana bullshit started: A customer walks into a kosher butcher shop; the owner goes to wait on her, but sees she’s wearing a large crucifix. He kicks her out, claiming his conscience doesn’t allow him to sell to christians. What then?

        • mds

          In Indiana? The persecuted religious freedom champions drive the kosher butcher shop out of business. Because it’s really only about their religious beliefs. (Similarly, a Venn diagram of supporters of these state laws and those previously shrieking in spittle-flecked denunciation of the “Ground Zero mosque” might not be a circle, but it would be pretty close.)

        • DAS

          I doubt this would happen though. Ashkenazic* kosher butcher practice actually assumes that there are non-Jews around who would buy and eat the cuts of meat (in traditional Ashkenazic practice, the entire rear half of the cow) that are not considered kosher.

          The more likely example that, if I remember correctly was given by the good Rev. RMJ at his blog, is a MO Synod Lutheran refusing to serve a Catholic because the Pope is an anti-christ.

          A more serious example in my mind is whether Indiana’s RFRA would apply to a Jew who wants to keep his/her car dealership open on Sunday because it is too much of a burden to his/her religious practice to be closed 2 days of the week. Would the Indiana law apply? I understand that there is a substantial difference between being exempted from an anti-discrimination law and being exempted from a rule about when businesses must close, but doesn’t that indicate a problem with the law: that it allows for certain religious beliefs to be protected and not others?

          * I say Ashkenazic because the Sephardim and other Jewish groups figure their butchers are good enough to separate the non-kosher parts (tissue innervated by the sciatic nerve, visceral fat and certain other anatomic features) from the kosher parts.

  • AB

    Animus? Animism might be my favorite religion of all.

    • KmCO

      I like pantheism myself.

      • Steve LaBonne

        Sauce- or frying?

        • KmCO

          Sauté.

  • Jordan

    When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? : “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”)

    This is actually kinda shocking to me (the magnitude, to be clear). The linked blog cites as a reference an amazon page for a book from these guys, who I know nothing about. And, if I am reading this correctly, that claim had to have come from 2007, which is even more surprising.

    Is there anything else like this reported by anyone else?

    • KmCO

      For me, growing up in a region of the country with an evangelical stranglehold on politics and local culture, the first association I had as a teenager with evangelical Christianity was “anti-abortion,” usually followed by “right-wing.”

  • mds

    With all precincts reporting, the Greene County Clerk shows Question 1 passing 51.43% to 48.57%.

    As the No Repeal spokesperson noted, the lemonade-from-lemons is that it was that close a margin in Springfield, Missouri. We’re not exactly talking “left-wing oasis” here. Sure, there’s Missouri State U**, but they’ve also got Evangel University, Baptist Bible College, and a branch of Southwest Baptist University. Yet the ordinance was enacted by the city council 6-3 in the first place, and repeal was by a comparative hairsbreadth. So progress rolls onward … assuming our nation survives that long.

    **It will always be Southwest Missouri State University to me.

    • TribalistMeathead

      Is there a left-wing oasis in Missouri? Based on the handful of Mizzoo students I’ve known, it’s probably not Columbia.

      • KmCO

        The Westport neighborhood of Kansas City is probably the closest thing to a liberal oasis in Mizzou that I can think of (although the 39th and Bell area is another contender).

  • Sebastian_h

    “Second, because for a significant number of the people pushing the ‘pity the poor photographer’ narrative, the photographer is little more than a wedge; a means to an end; an appealing and pitiable image designed to disguise a far uglier and less pitiable cause.”

    I don’t agree with this general framing. It suggests that you can’t write reasonable accommodations into anything because some people might want to push for unreasonable accommodations. This leads to backlash/counter-backlash scenarios.

    Accommodating the actual pitiable cause makes it MORE difficult for it to be leveraged against the far uglier and less pitiable causes. Accommodating the actual pitiable cause means that the uglier cause can’t hide behind the pitiable one.

    Further, we have to be reasonably accommodating on this issue, because I’m quite certain we don’t want a “must serve all comers” rule for all possible jobs. Must all artists take anti-gay commissions? All authors? All film-makers? Of course not. If a masseur doesn’t want to massage me because they believe touching gays makes them unclean it is a closer call, but I’d tend to think they shouldn’t be forced to on pain of having their lively-hood stripped away. If a housekeeper doesn’t want to clean a gay person’s house, I think they should be able to say no.

    Since we have to draw the line somewhere I would tend to draw it on essential/non-essential grounds and on goods/services grounds. You can’t have a store with stuff and refuse to sell the stuff to certain people based on their membership of a protected class. You can generally refuse to sell services–but the government can decide that certain essential services (hospital care, food providing, shelter providing) have to be provided generally. If you are a government worker you can’t discriminate unless (maybe) your office can immediately provide service from some other employee.

    This has the advantage of being fair, pluralistic, and accommodating without putting us gay people in any danger.

    And really that is how the law has tended to work generally. All along I thought the wedding photographer case was ill-advised. It is definitely a service, not a good. It definitely isn’t an essential service. It definitely isn’t provided by the government. I’m not so sure why it is bad to let them say no.

    You frame accommodations as a wedge that bigots use to attack more important non-discrimination laws.

    I would tend to see deliberately choosing not to reasonably accommodate the pitiable cases is like giving a weapon to your enemies instead of making them expose themselves clearly.

    • Malaclypse

      I’m not so sure why it is bad to let them say no.

      What about if a photographer refused to photograph black people? That okay? If not, why is it different?

      • Hogan

        The market will fix it! You know, the way it did in the South before 1964.

        • Malaclypse

          Veblen wept.

      • The substitution of digital for analog photography has borked my “negatives” joke.

    • rea

      Must all artists take anti-gay commissions? All authors? All film-makers?

      Sebastian, don’t you notice all these examples involve speech?

  • Yankee

    Same idea as “flagship species” in the ecology world. Very effective tactic in pivoting opinion in the mass of people who have never actually been there. Twee, but works.

  • cpinva

    exactly how is a bakery, that bakes wedding cakes, “participating” in the wedding? they “participate” in a wedding, at about the same level as a manufacturer of theater lighting “participates” in the play, they don’t. what happens if a customer walks in the door of a “Christian” baker and orders a wedding cake, plain, to be picked up a week from Saturday, making no mention of what kind of wedding it is to be? does the baker have the legal right to demand the customer tell them what kind of wedding it’s going to be, so the baker can decide whether or not his/her “deeply held religious beliefs” will allow him/her to bake said cake? I seriously doubt it.

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