Today #HB1523 is trending on Twitter. Reactions range from “this is legalized discrimination” to “thanks for standing up for the First Amendment”. Of course, this is just another battle in a misguided war. I gave a quick treatment to this topic a couple of years ago. The argument hasn’t changed much, but that’s never stopped me from talking.
There is a key point, which opponents of HB1523 don’t seem to grasp: there can be no absence of discrimination in this debate. Opponents are quick to point out that Christians are discriminating against the LGBT community by refusing to bake cakes for them; however, they aren’t as quick to acknowledge that to force the Christian to bake a cake is also a form of discrimination. Gay couples are purposely targeting Christians in order to force them to provide services against their conscience. While you can argue all day long about the finer points of this dilemma, the argument is unnecessary because the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Or so you thought…
By this point it seems clear that the LGBT community found a loophole that the Founders did not anticipate. The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law…” because they didn’t anticipate that the time would come when the Executive and Judicial branches of government would be writing the laws. Pretty sneaky, Sis!
As I mentioned in my previous treatment of this topic, the LGBT cause is a religion. This is what Merriam-Webster gives as the definition of “religion”:
the belief in a god or in a group of gods
an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods
an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or grouphttp://merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion
The LGBT Movement fits well under any definition of the word. Their god is the LGBT cause. By forcing others to make cakes, take pictures, etc. they are forcing their beliefs on others. In this sense, they are committing the greater sin. The Christian businesses simply declined to provide a service, but they never forced their beliefs on the customer.
The cake is a red herring, though. The real concern is about churches being forced to perform gay marriages. If a Christian can be forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding then why can’t a church be forced to perform a marriage ceremony for a gay couple? The answer is obvious: there is no reason. It’s all part of the same argument.
The Mississippi law frustrates me because it feels like an acknowledgement that the First Amendment doesn’t actually provide these protections, which is, of course, false. On the other hand, what choice do states have when the courts have run amok? The courts clearly feel they have the right to deny civil rights to one group in the name of securing rights for another. It becomes all the more frustrating because there are plenty of bakeries and photographers that would be happy to provide services for gay weddings. The LGBT community has decided to target Christian businesses for no reason other than to force their religion on them.
Many of the people screaming on Twitter are outraged by the hate surrounding HB1523. While I’ll agree that the hate is unhinged, I’ll disagree with where it’s coming from. I’ll include just a couple of messages from the top of the list. You can look it up yourself if you want more:
If you can't remember how to spell Mississippi, remember it's:— Benjamin Siemon (@BenjaminJS) April 5, 2016
The solution is obvious, but is certainly unpopular in today’s climate. First, the Constitution guarantees religious liberty. It does not guarantee cakes or wedding photography. The Bill of Rights places restrictions on the government, but does not guarantee services. Phrases such as “shall make no law”, “shall not be infringed” and “shall not be violated” indicate that the Founders intended for limitations to be placed on government, not the people.
There is another side to this coin, though. Gay couples, Constitutionally speaking, should have the right to be married. As should any other combination or quantity of adults. Churches can teach against it and they can refuse to perform these marriages, but people can leave and go find another church that will perform the marriage (there are plenty).
There is no scenario where at least some form of discrimination does not exist. This does not mean hate. It does not mean bigotry. It just means people with different ideas will choose not to do business with each other. If we acknowledge this we can have a peaceful, loving world. By constantly suing and destroying the businesses of those with whom the LGBT community disagrees, they are only perpetuating and exacerbating the problem. They are creating wedges and division and fostering the kind of world they claim to deride.