T-shirt maker Blaine Adamson doesn’t exactly wear his heart on his sleeve, but he’s not about to ignore it either. When the Kentucky businessman was approached about printing rainbow shirts for Lexington’s gay pride festival two years ago, he had to turn the job down. As a Christian, he felt that using his shop to promote a message that contradicted his faith was a non-starter.
Unfortunately, Adamson has paid for his principles -- dearly. In October, the city’s “special rights” ordinance -- the same kind of measure that’s caused a firestorm in Houston, San Antonio, Fayetteville, and Springfield -- came back to bite Hands On, which was found guilty of “discrimination” and sentenced to a year of “sensitivity training.” As far as Lexington’s Human Rights Commissioner was concerned, it’s time for Christians in the marketplace “to leave their religion at home.”
But that won’t happen without a fight. Late last week, Blaine announced that he’s appealing the decision. “No one should be forced by the government to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” his attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) argued. “Laws that do that are fundamentally unjust. We are appealing the commission’s decision because the First Amendment protects the freedom of every American to decline to speak on any issue without fear of punishment.”
When Adamson takes his battle to the next level, he’ll have some interesting allies by his side: openly gay couple (and fellow t-shirt company owners), Kathy Trautvetter and Diane DiGeloromo. “The idea is that when you own your own business, it’s your own art and creation -- it’s very personal... it takes a long time to build a business,” Trautvetter explained. “When someone wants to force you to go against it -- that’s what stuck me right in the heart. I really felt for Blaine.”
Americans should feel for every businessman who’s being muscled out of the market for holding views that an overwhelming number of people share. Fortunately the Constitution doesn’t guarantee rights on the basis of political correctness. So as long as we are a nation ruled by law the Adamsons have as much freedom to reject homosexuality as his customers do to endorse it.
Not everyone will be joyful and triumphant when the Senate flips off the lights and locks up. It’s been a long, drawn out weekend for members, who couldn’t trim their tree until they funded the government -- something the Senate finally did late Saturday night, 56-40 (24 Republicans in favor, 21 Democrats against). Passing the CRomnibus wasn’t exactly how some conservatives wanted to close out the 113th Congress, but for Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and others, the real battles are just beginning.
As promised, Sens. Cruz and Lee made a last-ditch effort to block the $1.1 trillion spending bill, which funnels money to 11 of the 12 government departments until September 2015. The 12th, Homeland Security, was put on a shorter leash until late February, when the two parties can duke it out over the President’s controversial amnesty order. While President and House leaders ultimately got their way with the CRomnibus, conservatives put up a fight -- forcing the Senate to stay in session with a series of procedural tactics. “If we agree it is indeed unconstitutional,” Cruz said, “we have no business funding it when the GOP controls Congress next year. The Constitution matters, and we must defend it.”
The move, which meant Senators had to hold almost hourly votes, kept members milling around and snacking on the floor most of the day. At the end of the day, the Cruz-Lee amendment on the constitutionality of the President’s order failed, 22-74 -- but not before conservatives made their point. In the end, no one felt too sorry for the Senate for working overtime, especially under one of the least productive regimes in history.
Unfortunately for Americans, the lame duck got even lamer in the Senate after Saturday, when Reid pounced on a procedural loophole opened up by the conservatives’ immigration stand and kept the ball rolling on at least two dozen of the President’s nominees. If you thought Grandma’s fruitcake was bad, you should see some of these résumés. When Reid exploited the duo’s “point of order,” it meant that he could cram through 12 executive branch and 12 judicial nominees -- including some highly controversial appointments as U.S. Surgeon General and head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. As for the courts, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to understand how radical the White House’s final hurrah will be. For Republicans, that was the frustrating tradeoff for standing on principle: a slate of lifetime appointments for the President’s ideological clones.
Although the Senate’s business isn’t officially finished, incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is certainly ready for it to be. “We’ll get to the end of the trail whenever that may be.” Of course, the end of the 113th Congress also means the end of the long and distinguished career of Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Voters in Oklahoma and across America will miss the man who fought to for every penny of their hard-earned money. Now, he takes his battle home, where he’ll continue to fight off cancer.
As his friend Mitch McConnell said, “We’re going to miss a Senator who actually likes to get his hands dirty and legislate. We’re going to miss a Senator who’s so devoted to procedure he sleeps next to Marty Gold’s book… We’re all going to miss Tom a lot. But he can retire with pride.” Our best wishes for a full recovery. Let’s hope the new Congress carries on his legacy of financial responsibility!
There are certain givens in life, things we take for granted because they’re so obvious. In cultural terms, one of them is that pornography is a plague, a moral disease contributing with increasing tenacity to the erosion of our country. It’s destructive to the thousands participating in it and to the millions who view it. It can devastate marriages and destroy families. It devastates God’s vision for human sexuality and debases everyone involved in it.
FRC has been saying this for years. Several years ago, our distinguished social scientist Dr. Pat Fagan published extensive research showing that pornography is “a major threat to marriage, to family, to children and to individual happiness. In undermining marriage it is one of the factors in undermining social stability.”
And our friends at Morality in Media (MIM) regularly documents how pornography, like a cancer, is spreading throughout our society and that Christians must work actively to curtail it (FRC is a long-time member of MIM’s “Porn Harms” coalition, “the leading national organization opposing pornography and indecency through public education and the application of the law”).
So, in one sense, the case has been made. But that case recently has been made all the stronger by research done by a group of respected secular researchers at New York University, the University of Arkansas, Virginia Commonwealth and James Madison Universities who have published a major new study showing that “the more pornography a man watches, the more likely he was to use it during sex, request particular pornographic sex acts of his partner, deliberately conjure images of pornography during sex to maintain arousal, and have concerns over his own sexual performance and body image. Further, higher pornography use was negatively associated with enjoying sexually intimate behaviors with a partner.”
Put a bit more simply, pornography causes men to objectify their sexual partners and use them to re-enact often bizarre sexual behavior derived from pornography. It removes love and respect from sex and reduces sexual intimacy to impersonal re-plays of sexual conduct for sheer physical gratification.
What can Christians do? Ministries like Covenant Eyes and Pink Elephant Resources offer effective resources to help those addicted to or tempted by pornography to fight against it, and the Porn Harms Coalition works actively to show how evil pornography is and to demand government enforce laws already on the books against it. We can pray for and counsel those we know fighting this battle. As the testimonies of many former porn addicts and performers indicate, it’s a battle that, with Christ’s enabling power and the love and accountability of caring friends, can be won.
** The Update is taking a break for the next couple of weeks and will return on January 5. We appreciate your support in 2014 and look forward to a busy New Year!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.