No wonder people like Cokie Roberts don't think same-sex "marriage" has "tangible, identifiable victims." The victims are being ordered not to talk about it! That's the latest twist in the long and bitter suit against Aaron and Melissa Klein, the young Christian bakers who turned down a lesbian wedding cake order in Oregon -- and have been paying for it ever since.
As prepared as the Kleins were to hear their $135,000 fine had been finalized, nothing could have prepared them for the Bureau of Labor's second punishment: forced silence. Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian decided to put his own stamp on the punishment by ordering the parents of five "to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published... any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations... will be refused, withheld, or denied to..."
His order made the Kleins speechless all right -- but not for long. Once the shock wore off, Aaron and Melissa made it quite clear that they wouldn't stop speaking out about their case, no matter what the government threatened. "We will not give up this fight," Aaron wrote on their Facebook page, "and we will not be silenced."
As FRC has warned, if our freedom of religion can be trampled, the freedom of speech won't be far behind. Aaron and Melissa's attorney, Alliance Defending Freedom's Anna Harmon was stunned. "Now he has ruled that the Kleins' simple statement of personal resolve to be true to their faith is unlawful. This is a brazen attack on every American's right to freely speak and imposes government orthodoxy on those who do not agree with government-sanctioned ideas."
Although Avakian's gay activism is no secret, his final ruling is profoundly vicious -- accusing the Kleins, among other things, of devaluing "humanity for all of us." When Aaron and Melissa explained that they couldn't participate in a same-sex ceremony, "their act was much more than the denial of a product," the commissioner claimed. "It was, and is, a denial of [the couple's] freedom to participate equally. It is the epitome of being told there are places you cannot go, things you cannot do... or be. [The Kleins'] conduct was a clear and direct statement that [this couple] lacked an identity worth being recognized."
Keep in mind that the state of Oregon didn't allow same-sex "marriage" when the Kleins declined to make the cake. Avakian blamed the Kleins for inflicting more than 100 emotional and physical problems on the couple, including everything from "weight gain" and "distrust of men" to "feeling mentally raped." As Fox News's Todd Starnes said, that must have been quite a cake! If anyone has suffered personally, it's the Kleins -- who not only lost their business, but their sense of personal safety. While the plaintiffs said they "fear being harassed," Aaron and Melissa actually were -- with death threats, property damage, and now, a government gag order. "We were just running our business the best we could -- following the Lord's example," Melissa told Todd. "I'm just blown away by the ruling." So are most legal experts. An order of this magnitude is not only unprecedented, but unconstitutional.
As the smoke starts to clear from the Supreme Court's marriage ruling, this story makes an important point: the Left's goal is not, nor has it ever been, marriage. What every American should have seen at the Supreme Court was not a finish line, but the beginning of a fierce struggle for our basic freedoms. That's why legislation like Senator Mike Lee's First Amendment Defense Act is so urgent. We need to stop the federal government from doing what some states already are: punishing the rights of Christians in the name of "tolerance."
Fortunately, this young, God-fearing couple have no intentions of going quietly. "This man has no power over me," Aaron said. "He seems to think he can tell me to be quiet... Unfortunately, he's doing this with the wrong Christian, because I fight back." You can fight back too. Contact your congressman and senators and ask them to support FADA and people like Aaron and Melissa, whose only crime is exercising the freedoms America just celebrated.
Just because the President splashes a rainbow on the White House doesn't mean he can color the country's opinion. If anything, the post-marriage ruling polling proves that the light show on "the people's house" only represented about half of them. In Rasmussen's latest survey, only 49% of the country agreed with the Supreme Court's decision to force same-sex "marriage" on all 50 states. Almost the same percent were opposed (45%) -- with 6% undecided. To call the issue settled is, as these latest results show, either ignorant, naïve -- or both.
Obviously, the country (like the Supreme Court) is still deeply divided on whether the justices did the right thing by sweeping aside thousands of years of human history, human nature, and the democratic process. The Barna group's polling late last week yielded almost identical results -- proving that Americans are still a long way from declaring a winner on marriage.
Of course, that hasn't stopped some of the more outspoken proponents of same-sex "marriage" from trying to distract readers from the ruling's heated fallout. Apparently, it wasn't enough that the Court imposed its will on the nation -- now liberals want to impose their own version of reality too. Despite entire offices of clerks resigning and dozens of governors, congressmen, senators, GOP candidates, state officials, and attorneys general speaking out, people like Jonathan Rauch are desperately trying to persuade people that evangelicals "stand alone" in their support for natural marriage.
Not only is that untrue, it's almost comical given that not a single dissenting justice on the Supreme Court was a protestant evangelical. Unfortunately for liberals, Americans of all backgrounds oppose same-sex "marriage" -- and, more importantly, they're starting to understand the threat it poses to the First Amendment. USA Today paid particular attention to that shift in this morning's edition. By huge margins, Americans are beginning to see what the media refuses to -- that the real victims of the Court's decision are people like Aaron and Melissa Klein.
"For years," Aaron said over the weekend, "we've heard same-sex marriage will not affect anybody. I'm here firsthand to tell everyone in America that it has already impacted people." The country must believe him, because in just two years, the number of people who think Christian wedding vendors should be forced to take same-sex "wedding" jobs has plummeted 14 points -- from 52% to 38%. Obviously, Americans aren't buying the Left's line that the First Amendment doesn't apply to men and women of faith.
Ten years after our first Values Voter Summit, FRC Action is pleased to welcome back a leader who has helped to make the event the success it is: Gov. Mike Huckabee. Ever the crowd favorite, Governor Huckabee is scheduled to help kick off the event Friday morning, September 25 -- deep into a presidential campaign that we're grateful includes a loud and proud stance on social issues. Don't miss your opportunity to hear Gov. Huckabee live at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., along with fellow candidates Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and others. Courageous bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein will be there, along with the Benham Brothers, Dr. Bill Bennett, Lt. Col. Oliver North (ret.), Brigitte Gabriel, Todd Starnes, Star Parker, and many more!
Tickets to one of the most exciting conservative events in the country are just $119 for adults and $50 for students -- and include access to a jam-packed exhibit hall, celebrity book signings, targeted breakout sessions, conservative job fair, radio row, special student events, and more. To register, click over to the website or call 877-372-2808.
** Now that the country is starting to wake up to the threat, FRC's Ken Blackwell explains that the "Battle Lines for Religious Liberty and Same-sex ‘Marriage' Set."
*** Tonight, I'll be in Panama City, Florida to kick off St. Andrew Baptist Church's new summer series, "Spiritual Revolution: Reclaiming America."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.