Same-sex "marriage" isn't about building homes -- it's about destroying them. Ask Aaron and Melissa Klein. The Christian bakers just learned that they stand to lose a lot more than their business for following their faith on marriage. According to the state, it could cost them their house too.
In another sickening twist, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries is ordering the family to pay their $135,000 fine by next Monday or the state will put a lien on their home. Apparently, Commissioner Brad Avakian is so fiercely committed to his agenda that he's willing to put five kids on the street to prove it. Conform or go homeless. Sounds like tolerance to me! Like florist Barronelle Stutzman, whose home also hangs in the court's balance, the Kleins are finding out how low the Left is willing to sink to demand conformity on their redefinition of marriage.
The couple who sued Aaron and Melissa have already waited two years for a settlement -- now they can't wait two weeks? It doesn't add up -- unless, as Aaron suspects, the goal is harassment. "This is intimidation and bullying -- that's exactly what it is. They are trying to strong-arm me into handing over $135,000 to the two girls, and if I win on appeal, they will never pay me back." In an interview with Fox News's Todd Starnes, a spokesman for the Bureau was candid about the brutal lengths it will go to exact payment. "The letter informs them that if we do not hear from them, we may turn the matter over to the Department of Revenue, which can place a lien on real property." Of course, the spokesman offered, "they can also ask for a stay of enforcement while they pursue their appeal."
That's cold comfort, since the person who would decide the stay is the same wannabe despot who issued the fine in the first place: Brad Avakian. "The judge, jury, and executioner are all in one place," attorney Anna Harmon vented. "He is intent on using his office to root out thought and speech with which he personally disagrees." An office, one investigation shows, that was already ethically compromised. While the state was busy accusing Aaron and Melissa of bias, emails suggest their agencies were full of it. In emails, text messages, phone calls, and other documents, Daily Signal found a shocking amount of collusion between the Bureau and the largest LGBT activist group in the state: Basic Rights Oregon (BRO).
Avakian had already held a string of closed-door meetings with BRO leading up to Sweet Cakes's judgment. BRO was given exclusive access to the office's media strategies, heads-up on breaking news in the suit, in-person meetings about Sweet Cakes's case, and even behind-the-scenes talking points. If anyone should be under the microscope for prejudice, it's Avakian -- not Aaron and Melissa Klein. In the meantime, the government's overreach is only stoking the conservative fires. "Brad and his cohorts at BOLI have overstepped their [authority] in requiring me to cease and desist from my constitutional freedom," Aaron insisted. "I will fight them with every last breath I have."
In the meantime, the couple is drawing strength from the outpouring of support they've received. As tough as it's been on their family, Melissa says, it's an honor to be a voice for religious liberty. "It's making us stronger and emboldening us to stand up to this. Aaron and I are fighting for every American out there -- for their freedom. We are not backing down at all."
The same party that kicked God out of their platform wants to kick Him out of U.S. insurance policies too. Everyone from Barry Lynn to Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) is deploying their troops to a new battlefield: the church. Already, congregations are trying to prepare themselves for the storms ahead -- with many, National Review points out, frantically calling insurance companies to see what kind of coverage they have if they're sued for not performing same-sex "weddings."
The answer is: not much. "Churches, like virtually every functioning corporation, protect against liability risks and the potentially ruinous costs of litigation through liability insurance. With same-sex marriage now recognized as a constitutional right -- and with news of [the Kleins' $135,000 punishment]... pastors are reaching out to insurance companies to make sure they're covered." Unfortunately for them, David French writes, they aren't. "In other words: churches, you're on your own."
On one hand, the Left is trying to cripple churches' ability to fight back, and on the other, they're trying to strip away protections for the everyday believer. Like most liberals, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz isn't hiding the fact that religious liberty is next on her kill list, especially for individual Americans. "I think [our country] made the distinction between protecting the First Amendment rights for religious organizations or religiously-affiliated organizations and being able to discriminate, broadly, simply because of one individual who owns a business and their own values and their being able to impose those values on either their employers or their customers," she told CBN's David Brody.
Once again, liberals are setting up the faulty argument that religious exercise must be confined to institutions -- not individuals. As any constitutional scholar would tell you, that's a deliberate distortion of the First Amendment! It's like saying the Second Amendment only applies in gun clubs. The reality is, and the Founders understood, religious liberty is a fundamental human freedom. In fact, it was Eleanor Roosevelt -- from Wasserman-Schultz's own party -- who chaired the drafting committee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. And it could not be more clear: "[E]veryone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
What's happened to the Democratic Party? After 70 years, there's nothing "democratic" about it!
It'll take a lot more than spray paint to deter the people of Texas's Bisbee Baptist Church. Like an overwhelming number of pastors, Freddie Matthews had a message for the Supreme Court about its marriage ruling -- and he used his church sign to do it. "Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's right," he spelled out on the marquee just two days after the justices ruled. Within the week, vandals painted over the sign with a profane note of their own. Talk about sore winners!
Pastor Matthews, who planned to preach on the sanctity of marriage, wasn't surprised by the response -- but he was disappointed. "[I] understand that we have our differences, but expressing them this way is not appropriate." Unfortunately, violence, graffiti, profanity, and general hostility is the Left's idea of "conflict resolution," and has been since the early days of Proposition 8. Just last week, the side claiming the "love" mantle spit on a Catholic priest at a gay pride parade. Where's the tolerance in that?
Back at Bisbee Baptist, Pastor Matthews said the irony of the whole thing is that he consistently preaches -- not just on homosexual immorality -- but all immorality outside of God's design for marriage. If he could, he'd like to meet with the person responsible for the crime. "We want to share the love of God with all people."
** Evangelicals are strangers in America -- and everywhere. That's the premise behind Rob Schwarzwalder's latest column for The Stream. Check it out here.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.