Family Research Council

April 07, 2014 - Monday

Photography Case another Snapshot of Intolerance

The First Amendment guarantees more than the freedom to speak. It also protects the freedom not to speak -- a right the U.S. Supreme Court just denied Elaine Huguenin. For the photographer and her husband, this latest development was a crushing one, especially as Christian business owners continue to find themselves on the losing side of the clash between political correctness and the marketplace.

Unfortunately, the Huguenins, who turned down a job to take pictures of a lesbian commitment ceremony, aren't the only victims of this suit -- so are hundreds of other wedding vendors who had hoped the Court would finally provide some clarity in the chaos their own June marriage ruling helped create. Instead, the justices ignored an opportunity to reaffirm the basic principle that the government can't trample on fundamental rights of free speech and religion.

As a result, the New Mexico Supreme Court, the very one that punished the Huguenins for trying to living out their faith in the workplace, will have the final say. And what a say it was. In ruling that stunned even liberals, the judges suggested that Americans like family businesses like Elane Photography are "now compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives." It is, the court writes, "the price of citizenship."

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jordan Lorence, who represented the husband-wife team, couldn't believe his ears. "Should the government force a videographer who is an animal rights activist to create a video promoting hunting and taxidermy?" Jordan asked. "Of course not, and neither should the government force this photographer to promote a message that violates her conscience."

Obviously, the courts are viewing the case of Elane Photography through the lens of political correctness -- not the Constitution, which protects the expression of personal views, even in the marketplace. (That's why they call it the free market!) Of course, the irony is that the couple at the center of this firestorm, the Willocks, found another photographer to shoot the ceremony -- for less money! Still, they still insisted on making a public example of the Huguenins, including dragging them through an eight-year legal ordeal.

Unfortunately, this is just a close-up of what's happening around the country in business, sports, Hollywood, and schools. Homosexual activists are absolutely determined to punish people who refuse to embrace and celebrate their lifestyle choices. Isn't that what the Obama administration has done with its HHS mandate? If the Left can't crowd conservatives out of the marketplace, then it will enlist the courts or the White House to force them out -- whether it's constitutional or not.

No wonder the country is increasingly skeptical about strong-arming couples like the Huguenins. A whopping 85% of Americans believe what the U.S. Supreme Court apparently doesn't: that a Christian photographer has the right to say no if her religious beliefs clash with a same-sex "marriage" client. No one should face punishment for declining to use their talent to communicate a message at odds with their convictions. Americans are being forced by government to buy products like ObamaCare, and are now being forced to engage in speech with which they morally disagree.

Is the judicial branch now writing the epilogue to the American experiment in ordered liberty? Real equality -- the kind the Left insists it wants -- demands that everyone, not just a vocal few, have the ability to live and work according to their conscience. And if the courts won't uphold it, state and federal legislatures must. For more, tune in to Fox News's "Kelly File" tonight at 9:30 p.m. (ET) as I discuss this and Mozilla.

Firestorm at Firefox

If anyone can feel Elane Photography's pain, it's the newly unemployed CEO of Mozilla Firefox, Brendan Eich. The ousted exec understands the Left's "gay right McCarthyism" better than most people. If there is a silver lining to cases like Elane and Eich, who just lost his job for donating $1,000 to California's successful marriage amendment six years ago, it's that Americans are finally waking up to the real agenda of homosexual activists: persecuting their opponents. Knowing their arguments don't have a rational leg to stand on, the Left settles for the next best thing -- shutting down debate altogether.

"This is the culture of the Left," Charles Krauthammer fumed, "not being satisfied with making an argument or even prevailing in an argument, but in destroying personally and marginalizing people who oppose them, in the same way that proponents of climate change declare the issue closed, it's over, there's no debate, it's settled science... In the same way, people are now declaring that the national debate we've had for a decade or two on gay marriage is closed and anybody who opposes gay marriage is a bigot and should be written out of polite society, ostracized and lose their jobs."

And conservatives aren't the only ones who agree with his assessment. The Mozilla company is being deluged with emails -- 94% of them negative -- about the outrageous handling of their new CEO, who had only been on the job for two weeks before someone ferreted him out for his marriage views. As the flood of angry messages shows, the more liberals try to steamroll the opponents, the more damage it's doing to their agenda. Even HBO's Bill Maher weighed in on the controversy with Forbes's Carrie Sheffield.

"He gave [the donation] when President Obama was still against gay marriage," Sheffield said. "So, I don't think it's very fair." "Good point," Maher replied. "I think there is a gay mafia," he went on. "I think if you cross them, you do get whacked." Even now, the extremists at Slate are trying to replicate the wrong done to Eich by outing other corporate donors of Proposition 8 in an effort to "Purge the Bigots!" Such vilification, the New York Times's Frank Bruni admits, "won't accelerate the timetable of victory... and it doesn't reflect well on the victors."

The Church in a Lurch in New York City

After a see-saw legal fight, New York City churches were disappointed to see the court's latest ruling against their push to put the "school" back in Sunday school. Since 2012, New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera (D) has been leading the charge to let churches continue renting the city's public schools when the buildings were not in use. As many as a hundred congregations were affected when an edict from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Board of Education took effect, banning them from their long-time meeting places.

When our friends at ADF sued, a lower court agreed to stop the policy from taking effect until the case worked through the appeals process. Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals sent the churches back to square one, ruling that the city had every right to bar other groups from their facilities. "We therefore vacate the injunction imposed by the District Court and reverse its judgment." The decision has plenty of protestors -- including New York City's new and radically liberal Mayor, Bill De Blasio. "I stand by my belief that a faith organization playing by the same rules as any community nonprofit deserves access," the mayor said. "They have to go through the same application process, wait their turn for space, pay the same rent, but I think they deserve access."

In his words, the nonprofit and faith-based groups "play a very, very important role in terms of providing social services and other important community services and I think they deserve that right." As Councilman Cabrera pointed out at a press conference of pastors, it's time for the Mayor to put actions to his words and overturn the ban put in place by his predecessor.

** The commander-in-chief continues to let his social agenda get in the way of national security. Read how in Bob Maginnis's new Washington Times piece, "Putting the Military on the Defensive over Sex." Also, don't miss the latest column from Travis Weber, FRC's new Director for the Center of Legal Studies, "Preserving Religious Liberty in Mississippi."


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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