December 07, 2017
You can read the entire Constitution, top to bottom, and never find the words "same-sex marriage." The freedom of religion, on the other hand, is right there in black and white. But guess which one Americans are fighting for their country to recognize?
For baker Jack Phillips and hundreds of Christians around the country, it's been shocking to watch 226 years of religious liberty disappear in the fog of a 2015 court decision. But, as FRC's Travis Weber points out, this is exactly the crisis conservatives warned about when five Supreme Court justices decided to redefine marriage -- and with it, how our country handles the God-given freedom to believe and live according to those beliefs. And now, ironically, the group struggling most with how to handle this predicament is the same court that created the problem in the first place.
Since Obergefell, scores of conflicts, involving businesses, service members, employees, wedding vendors, nonprofits, schools, and even churches, have exploded across a country that was told same-sex marriage "wouldn't affect you." Chief Justice John Roberts wasn't the only one who predicted that 2015 wasn't the end of the battle for marriage -- but the beginning of the fight for freedom. "Today's decision," he warned, "creates serious questions about religious liberty. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court." On Tuesday, justices heard the first major reckoning of that ruling, struggling intently on where to draw the line in the new and possibly final frontier they created.
"If [making a cake is] artistic expression under the First Amendment, the justices wondered at argument, who else might be? Is the florist, wedding invitation designer, makeup artist, hairstylist, dessert artist, or chef? These individuals need First Amendment protection too now due to the threat of Obergefell," Travis writes. "Yet if they are found to not be engaged in expression and granted First Amendment protection, they are all at risk of being forced to lend their creative talents to same-sex wedding ceremonies. The Court must now deal with having to protect all of them -- and more -- in light of its decision in Obergefell."
For Christians, though, it's all the more maddening to be hauled to court by the anti-faith Left when you see that they have no trouble embracing the freedom to believe when it comes to their own agenda. The hypocrisy is astounding. Far-Left fashion designers like Sophie Theallet had no problem refusing to dress First Lady Melania Trump -- but where are those cries of "discrimination?" Christians turn down a job order and they're threated with thousands of dollars in fines and six months in jail! I'm fine with designers declining to dress the Trumps -- but I'm not fine with the double standard.
Or what about the pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer, a publicly-traded company, who announced last year that they were clamping down on the distribution of their drugs for lethal injections? "With Pfizer's announcement, all FDA-approved manufacturers of any potential execution drug have now blocked their sale for this purpose," explained the New York Times. "Executing states must now go underground if they want to get hold of medicines for use in lethal injection." More than 20 American and global drug producers say they have moral objections to the death penalty and are refusing sales to corrections agencies. These are multinational, multi-billion dollar companies -- yet somehow they have a right to conscience when people like Jack don't? And ironically, the same party applauding their conviction is the one throwing bakers, florists, and nuns under the bus.
Like most conservatives, I may disagree with Pfizer and Theallet, but I support their right of conscience. No one should be forced to give up their constitutional rights to do their job. Instead of singling out conservatives for punishment, it's time to apply the same freedom to everyone. The Left cannot continue to light a same-sex unity candle with the match it's taking to the First Amendment. Tolerance is for everyone -- or it isn't tolerance at all.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.