In October, 2006 I debated Evan Wolfson, president and founder of the GLBT Freedom to Marry organization, at the University of Virginia Law School [Audio file at http://www.cvillepodcast.com/2006/10/06/amendment-debate/] regarding my proposed One-Man, One Woman Marriage amendment which was submitted to Virginia voters for the 2006, November election.
Claiming that GLBT “marriage” would not have adverse effects on anyone else, “Wolfson argued that ... allowing same-sex partners to marry will not negatively affect heterosexual couples. He said people will go on living their lives and same-sex couples will be benefited without injuring anyone else. “ [Chris Tucker, Marshall-Newman Amendment Debated, Virginia Law Weekly, University of Virginia School of Law, 20 October 2006 • Volume 59, Number 7].
Compulsory Support/Participation for Homosexual “Marriage:” Now that the GLBTQ “marriage” efforts are succeeding, courtesy of a few federal judges who upending the will of the state legislatures which represent the will of the American people, “tolerance” is giving way to the orthodoxy of “compulsion” Comedian Bob Hope’s mid 1970‘s joke comment about California’s passage of the 1975 Consenting Adult Sex Bill was oddly prophetic: “I’ve just flown in from California, where they’ve made homosexuality legal. I thought I’d get out before they make it compulsory.”
The “no harm claim” was simply another of the many GLBT false claims on the way to power and influence. Consider the following.
Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin are co-owners of the Elane Photography business in New Mexico. They were asked by a lesbian couple to photograph a “commitment” ceremony. (Civil unions and same-sex marriage were not legal then.) The Huguenines declined because their Christian beliefs conflicted with the message of the lesbian ceremony. The “tolerant” lesbian couple hired another photographer for less money, and then sued the Huguenines for “sexual orientation discrimination.”
The New Mexico Human Rights Commission ordered Elane Photography to pay $7,000 to the lesbian discrimination “victims.” New Mexico Supreme Court sustained the ruling. A concurring justice wrote that, the Huguenins “now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” as “the price of citizenship.”
Elaine Hugenine had no problem taking pictures of lesbians or the lesbian couple in other contexts. Elane Photography appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. It declined to grant certiorari, which means the judgment against them stands.
Is this what Evan Wolfson and GLBT leaders mean by “no harm?”
Then there is the case of a 70-year-old grandmother, Baronelle Stutzman, of Washington state, who served a long time homosexual customer, but she declined to do the floral decorations for his same sex wedding because she is a Baptist who believes marriage is between one-man and one woman.
Washington's attorney general is prosecuting her business and Mrs. Stutzman personally. She lost so far in state court and may lose her life savings and her home. Is this “no harm”?
What about Colorado baker Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver, who declined to make a special “wedding” cake for a SSM, but who suggested the couple buy a cake off the shelf. A Colorado court found he violated the state Civil Rights law, and ordered him and his employees to take government mandated "tolerance training," and further ordered him to bake cakes celebrating SSM for anyone who asks, or be put in jail for contempt of court.
An Idaho pastor and his wife who own a wedding chapel are being hounded for not actually performing a gay wedding. There are even more examples of "compulsion."
Aaron and Melissa Kline, parents of five children and owners of “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” were told by an Oregon Administrative Law judge that "Rachel Bowman-Cryer should collect $75,000 and her wife, Laurel Bowman-Cryer, $60,000 from the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa ….” (The Oregonian, 4/25/15)
The fine is being imposed by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries because in 2013 the Klines declined to bake a “wedding” cake for two “brides” based upon their Christians beliefs about marriage.
The Oregon Labor Agency said the Klines “violated” the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, a law that protects the rights of the LGBT community, but apparently not the First Amendment religious rights of Christians to decline to participate in the compulsory celebration of a lesbian “wedding.”
The Klines’ car was vandalized and broken into twice, and they have already lost their shop due to GLBT protests and pickets outside their store. Homosexual groups also threatened secondary boycotts with other Oregon businesses if they did business with the bakery. (Such “secondary boycotts” are illegal under federal law if carried out by labor unions.)
Aaron Kline told a Fox News reporter that his children received death threats. (Todd Stames, Fox News 1/21/14)
Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian who as a state senator supported the 2007 law he now administers, said, "The goal is never to shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate … we want them to learn from that experience and have a good, successful business in Oregon." (The Oregonian, 1/20/14). Apparently, the proposed $135,000 fine is state “therapy” for the disease of following the teachings of Genesis. 2:18-25.
Again, is this “no harm?”
A Kentucky T-shirt maker, Hands on Originals, was subject of a complaint filed by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) for declining to make T-shirts for a 2012 homosexual pride festival. The company is owned and run by Christians. HOO also had previously refused to produce novelties for “a strip club, pens promoting a sexually explicit video, and shirts containing a violence related message.”
The Fayette County Kentucky Circuit court in April, 2015 sided with the HOO Christian owners. But HOO had to retain counsel and defend themselves in court which cost time and money , and they may still have to defend themselves in an appeal.
Conscience Protections in Virginia Law: Telling people that they can believe their religion, but cannot practice, apply or exercise it, is not religious liberty at all. In 1943, the U. S. Supreme Court took up a challenge by Jehovah’s Witnesses’ children who were required by a West Virginia law to salute the Flag or be expelled from school with a fine and jail time for their parents. The Court ruled:
“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”
We think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power, and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control.” [West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 1943]
Yet GLBT advocates seek to penalize persons who believe that homosexual behavior is gravely immoral and who do not wish to give recognition to such acts. How else do we explain their opposition to Religious Freedom laws, or conscience clauses and willingness to force mandatory participation in homosexual ceremonies?
Virginia’s GLBT lobby group, Equality Virginia, does not want conscience protections for Virginians who do not wish to participate in same sex marriage celebrations. That is why they opposed my HB 1414 (2015) which affirmed conscience protections.
However, Virginia law currently has conscience protections for Virginians in other areas:
Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance exemptions are provided for school children if a student or “his parent or legal guardian objects on religious, philosophical or other grounds to his participating in this exercise.” [VA Code § 22.1-202];
Compulsory school attendance exemptions are provided for “Any pupil who, together with his parents, by reason of bona fide religious training or belief is conscientiously opposed to attendance at school …” [VA Code § 22.1-254]
Objection to participating in abortion is protected. “Nothing … shall require a hospital or other medical facility or physician to admit any patient … for the purpose of performing an abortion. … any person who shall state in writing an objection to any abortion or all abortions on personal, ethical, moral or religious grounds shall not be required to participate in procedures which will result in such abortion, and the refusal of such person, hospital or other medical facility to participate therein shall not form the basis of any claim for damages on account of such refusal or for any disciplinary or recriminatory action against such person, nor shall any such person be denied employment because of such objection or refusal.” [VA Code § 18.2-75.]
Genetic counselors are exempt from having to “participate in counseling that conflicts with their deeply-held moral or religious beliefs, nor shall licensing of any genetic counselor be contingent upon participation in such counseling. Refusal to participate in counseling that conflicts with the counselor's deeply-held moral or religious beliefs shall not form the basis for any claim of damages or for any disciplinary or recriminatory action against the genetic counselor provided the genetic counselor informs the patient that he will not participate in such counseling and offers to direct the patient to the online directory of licensed genetic counselors maintained by the Board.” [VA Code § 54.1-2957.21]
Private Adoption Agencies do not have to place children with couples or individuals that violate religious or moral teaching, including same-sex couple petitioners. “To the extent allowed by federal law, no private child-placing agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies.” [VA Code § 63.2-1709.3] Also, VA may not deny a license for adoption, nor may localities deny grants, contracts, benefits, etc., nor may a clause of action result from such denial.
Students may be exempt from school immunization requirements if “the student or his parent submits an affidavit to the admitting official stating that the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with the student's religious tenets or practices.” [VA Code § 22.1-271.2]
Exemption from military service under a state call to arms is provided for. “ All persons who because of religious belief shall claim exemption from military service, if the conscientious holding of such belief by such person shall be established under such regulations as the President of the United States shall prescribe, shall be exempted from militia service in any capacity that the President shall declare to be combatant;” [VA Code § 44-5]
Silent prayer in schools is provided for. “During such one-minute period of silence, the teacher responsible for each classroom shall take care that all pupils remain seated and silent and make no distracting display to the end that each pupil may, in the exercise of his or her individual choice, meditate, pray, or engage in any other silent activity which does not interfere with, distract, or impede other pupils in the like exercise of individual choice.” [VA Code § 22.1-203]
Governor McAuliffe’s Letter to Indiana Businesses: I sent a Letter to the Editor to the Indianapolis Star in response to a letter sent by Governor Terry McAuliffe attempting to lure Indiana businesses to Virginia over a Religious Freedom law (RFRA) in Indiana. The only problem is Virginia, as well as 19 other states, basically have the same law as Indiana initially passed! Virginia’s law passed in 2007. The sky has not fallen!
Governor McAuliffe and others have stated that the Indiana law would hurt businesses in Indiana. Yet, Governor McAuliffe, in his pitch to Indiana businesses notes that Virginia is “home to 35 Fortune 1000 companies and 23 firms with annual sales of at least $5 billion.” Obviously “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts,” despite claims to the contrary, have not hurt Virginia’s business profits or those of other states.
March 31, 2015, Indianapolis Star, Letter to the Editor
There is an irony in Governor McAuliffe’s recent letter to the Indianapolis Star attempting to lure Indiana businesses to Virginia to “protect” them from the law signed by Governor Mike Pence. Virginia has the same law. We passed it in 2007. The sky did not fall!
Governor McAuliffe wrote, “In light of … recent events in Indiana, I … welcome you to … Virginia’s open, inclusive and thriving business environment … we do not discriminate against our friends and neighbors, particularly those who are supporting local businesses and generating economic activity.”
Correct! Because even though we have a law just like Indiana’s, LGBTQ Virginians have jobs, eat at lunch counters and in restaurants, go to movies and shopping malls, own businesses, buy, drive and own cars, sit anywhere they want on a bus, take vacations across Virginia, buy stock, join country clubs, attend Virginia colleges, etc. The inflammatory LGBTQ rhetoric is nonsense.
Virginia’s law, just like Indiana’s, is amazingly similar to an Illinois law supported by Barack Obama when he was a state senator. The Illinois law is similar to one introduced in 1993 by liberal Democrat Congressman Chuck Schumer and signed by President Bill Clinton.
The point of these laws, now in 20 states according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, is to afford individuals, businesses, or other institutions, a defense against government action that would substantially burden religious expression otherwise guaranteed by the First Amendment. The language is similar and the legal effects are the same.
The federal law states, “Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it … is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”
Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, wrote in the Washington Post that these laws “will hurt jobs, growth and the economic vibrancy of parts of the country … ”
Yet, Governor McAuliffe, in his pitch to Indiana businesses notes that Virginia is “home to 35 Fortune 1000 companies and 23 firms with annual sales of at least $5 billion.” Obviously “Religious Restoration Acts,” despite LGBTQ claims, have not hurt Virginia’s business profits or those of other states, facts neither our Governor nor Apple’s CEO will admit.
So, as long as Virginia or Indiana’s RFRA laws are not struck down by a Supreme Court bent on imposing same sex marriage on everyone as a Civil Right, a Muslim restaurant owner in Virginia or Indiana would be able to use such a law to defend against being compelled to use food preparation methods contrary to Islamic practices and beliefs; a Jewish Deli owner could not be required to offer pork on his menu; and a Christian baker could use it to defend against being forced to participate in the “celebration” of a same sex wedding. Now, that is real tolerance.
Delegate Bob Marshall, 13th District, author 2006 Virginia Marriage Amendment (703-853-4213)