In Portland, Ore., Melissa Klein was the owner of Sweet Cakes bakery, a small storefront operation. Her husband Aaron helped her. Last year two lesbians walked into the bakery and said they wanted Melissa to make them a wedding cake. The Kleins said they were sorry, but their Christian convictions were that marriage was between a man and a woman and they would not be able to make a cake for a same-sex ceremony.
Afterward, one of the women filed a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries claiming she was a victim of discrimination. The same thing happened in Colorado to a Christian florist and in New Mexico with a Christian photographer. They refused to participate in gay or lesbian “weddings” and they were punished by their respective state governments. In Oregon, the bureau spokesperson said they Christian couple needed to be “rehabilitated.” They subsequently had to shut down the store.
Seeing this, some states, including Kansas, Arizona and Mississippi, have considered or are considering legislation to try and protect small business owners like the Kleins. Some in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered movement (GLBT) want to force Christian business owners out of business.
However, at least one person in the GLBT community sees this for the slippery slope that it is. In a recent column, radio talk show host Tammy Bruce wrote: “As a gay conservative woman, I supported Arizona’s religious freedom bill, which was just vetoed this week by Gov. Jan Brewer…Under these rules, freedom of conscience is squashed under the jackboot of liberals, all in the Orwellian name of ‘equality and fairness.’ Here we are dealing with not just forcing someone to do something for you, but forcing them in the process to violate a sacrament of their faith as well…If we are able to coerce someone, via the threat of lawsuit and personal destruction, to provide a service, how is that not slavery? If we insist that you must violate your faith specifically in that slavish action how is that not abject tyranny?… Of all the people in the world who should understand the scourge of living under constant threat of losing life, liberty or the ability to make a living because of who you are, it’s gays…Horribly, the gay civil rights movement has morphed into a Gay Gestapo. Its ranks will now do the punishing of those who dare to be different or dissent from the approved leftist dogma. To all the young gays who tweet and email me that this is about ‘equality,’ how exactly? Forcing someone to do something against their faith has nothing to do with equality for you, has nothing to do with bigotry and has everything to do with a personal, spiritual understanding of right and wrong. In other words, I tell them, not everything is about you .…”
This does beg the question about freedom of religion, freedom of association and what the government can compel its citizens to do. Should the government punish the Jewish photographer because he refuses to take pictures for a gathering of Skinheads? Should the government levy fines against an African-American printer who refuses to print posters for a Ku Klux Klan rally? Should a homosexual painter be forced to paint signs for the infamous Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka that reads “God Hates Fags!”
The answer is no to all of these.
The government should not compel an individual to engage in a business transaction that violates their conscience. The “Gay Gestapo” (of which not all gays and lesbians are a part) is now pushing well beyond “live and let live” territory into using the law to punitively enforce their political and social agenda.
Community columnist Tim Wildmon is a Lee County resident. He is president of the American Family Association, but the column represents his personal opinion unless otherwise noted. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.