anti-gay, baker, wedding cakeThe debate surrounding the scope of religious freedom has become increasingly contentious over the past year. With the legalization of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court, it's a topic that has received national attention as individual states have introduced legislation which would allow private businesses to invoke their religious beliefs in order to refuse service to customers.

Supporters of such legislation claim it is meant simply to protect religious liberty, and doesn't target any specific group. Opponents maintain that "protecting religious liberty" is a façade; that these bills were written to specifically target members of the LGBT community, and would essentially make it legal for businesses to discriminate against them. Such legislation stems from cases of business owners who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds who feel as if they are violating their beliefs when providing services for same-sex weddings. These complaints primarily involve businesses such as:

  • Bakeries

  • Florists

  • Caterers

  • Event venues

There is certainly a difference between serving a same-sex couple in a restaurant and providing a service directly involving their wedding. While it would be quite difficult to argue that a waiter who serves a same-sex couple at a restaurant is having their religious beliefs violated, it's more plausible that someone asked to provide a service for the couple's wedding may feel that way. But in reality, a florist is participating in a gay wedding the same way that gun manufacturers participate in school shootings, however much you think that is.

This has led to numerous "religious freedom" bills popping up throughout the United States. While the intent of these bills is ostensibly to protect religious rights by allowing people in the wedding industry to deny service to same-sex couples, they often are much larger in scope a fact which has alarmed the American public and civil rights experts alike.

This type of legislation has raised fundamental questions surrounding the constitutionality of protecting religious freedom at the expense of civil rights. Debate has been heated, with supporters and opponents arguing over deep-seated ideological convictions.

There is no test of the business's adherence to the beliefs they claim to have. A baker, for example, could cite Christian beliefs to deny services to a lesbian couple and then ignore those same values and make a wedding cake for axe murdering Satanists simply because they are straight. We never hear about the religious business owner that wants to deny all sinners, just gay people, and that speaks to the credibility of these laws.

Economic Consequences

vote box Interestingly, however, one of the major consequences associated with religious freedom legislation has been the economic impact. Take Indiana, for example. In 2015, after Indiana passed a religious freedom bill known as the RFRA, the state experienced intense backlash from around the country along with a serious blow to the economy.

Major sports organizations such as the NCAA, NBA, and NASCAR voiced their displeasure with the bill, as well as companies such as Salesforce and Apple. Companies banned travel to Indiana, and major business conventions were relocated out of the state. By some estimates, backlash from the legislation cost the city of Indianapolis $60 million in revenue alone. Under much pressure, the state amended the bill to include language clarifying that businesses could not discriminate based on sexual orientation. However, by that time the damage had already been done.

This brings us to Missouri, whose Senate just last week passed a similar piece of religious freedom legislation an amendment to the state constitution which, if it passes through the Republican-controlled house, will be presented to voters on the state ballot later this year. This is especially significant, because an amendment can only be repealed by another state-wide vote. As you might expect, this makes the repeal process much more challenging. Are the voters of Missouri willing to take a substantial economic blow in defense of their freedom to deny services to gay and lesbian couples? And how just is it to ask for a majority vote on minority rights?

Kansas City provides a good example of the negative impact the amendment could cause, if it passes. The city has a contract to host the Big 12 basketball tournament for the next four years an event which brings in a great deal of revenue for the city. The tournament provides a substantial boost to local the economy as fans representing the ten different schools in the conference all travel to Kansas City in order to support their teams.

They book hotel rooms, fill the city's restaurants, and buy tons of merchandise over a 4-5 day period. However, if the proposed legislation is passed, the Big 12 committee may choose to move the tournament elsewhere a huge potential loss for the city. Kansas City is generally viewed as a positive and welcoming place, but this type of legislation could easily tarnish that image.

The city will also be hosting the national figure skating championships early next year, which is estimated to fill 20,000 hotel rooms for an entire week. Not to mention all the food, souvenirs, and entertainment that will be purchased by visiting spectators. It remains to be seen if the people of Missouri are willing to risk these revenue boosts on a matter of religious principle.

Religious Freedom or a Healthy Economy?

It is yet to be seen if Missouri will take heed of the lesson learned in Indiana. If voters decide to pass this amendment, they ought to be aware of the likely consequences. They will be forced to make a fundamental choice stand by their beliefs (or actually, just those that pertain to gay people), or put them aside for the greater good of the local economy. If Indiana is any indication, there is a high price to pay for supporting this type of legislation. If the amendment passes through the state house, what should the voters of Missouri do? What's more important: a moral conviction or a thriving economy?


  1. J. Paul Lanier's Avatar J. Paul Lanier

    There needs to be a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. I believe all of the so-called religious freedom on this issue is just hatred.

    1. Paul's Avatar Paul

      More like free to hate and harm anyone based on their appearance, preferences, and anything else that they can think of. What about Judge not or you will be judged. Judgement day is not when someone dies, it is everyday.


        Not free to hate. Look up marriage in the dictionary. It says husband and wife. Not wife and wife or husband and husband. If you want a union between same sex couples call it a same sex union not marriage. Simple right, or do you want me to buy you a dictionary?

        1. Pastor Pete's Avatar Pastor Pete

          Then we have to update the dictionary Darryl, it's not unprecedented

          1. Bill Lawson's Avatar Bill Lawson

            You may want reread your Bible.

          2. Pastor Pete's Avatar Pastor Pete

            Then I respectfully suggest that you read Levticus Darryl, that's the book of the Bible that specifically addresses homosexuality. You will see that much of it is unworkable. Really

        2. Pastor Pete's Avatar Pastor Pete

          So exactly which verses of Leviticus are you choosing to follow Darryl? Not all of them I bet. Don't waste my time Darryl, I suggest you reread that particular book and then we'll see what you have to say. Go ahead, I'll wait...


            none I was reading websters dictionary

    2. Chester's Avatar Chester

      People should be free to do business with whomever they want, or not to do business with those they don't want to. Remember the typical, "you can't legislate behavior/morality/whatever." Well the ones who say this all the time are now the ones trying to do it. If a business doesn't want to do business with a gay guy, or with me because I'm Asian, oh well. If they go bankrupt, well again, oh well. That's their problem.

      1. Jeanie's Avatar Jeanie

        People should not be allowed to discriminate and turn people away based on race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. If a business doesn't like black or Jews you're saying it's ok to discriminate. And how do you know someone is gay? Does the business guess by looking? Ask? What? It is sad and to me it's sick and unGodly to discriminate. It doesn't prohibit anyone from practicing their own religion to live and let live. Your post makes me sad. We should stand up for people to have civil rights.

        1. Barney McComas's Avatar Barney McComas


        2. Tony's Avatar Tony

          Private Business Owners Have "Civil" Rights too, and All Have God Given Rights. All Business's Has the Rights to Refuse Service to Anyone for ANy Reason. It Is Their Right. They Should Not Be Forced to Serve Those That They Do Not Want too. It Is Not An Individuals Right to Shop. That Is a Privilege. the Consumer Can Choose to Go Somewhere Else. That Is Their Right. They Do Not Have the Right to Force Someone to Serve Them That Doesn't Want to. That is a Violation of That Others Rights. You Do Not Have the Right to Violate Other Peoples Rights.

      2. michaelclick's Avatar michaelclick

        I support equal rights for everyone, but not one class or group having superior rights over others. .

        1. michaelclick's Avatar michaelclick

          By Superior rights, I mean that what if a prospective customer comes into a shop and an is loud, rude, disrespectful to the owner and other customers and then demands that the owner still do business with the lout because he is a practitioner of a different life-style, then that isn't EQUAL rights but superior rights. The shop owner might not do business with me if I acted in such a manner, but he MUST do business or provide a service to the lout?

          1. michaelclick's Avatar michaelclick

            Why force anyone (particularly people who handle your food) to do something that they don't want to do? There are other people more than willing to provide the product or service for you without all the hassle of bending them to your will.

          2. Jim's Avatar Jim

            Good point... Why force people to allow women to vote or work or enlist in the military? Why force people to free their slaves, or allow blacks in their schools, businesess or bathrooms?

            The answer is because discrimination is wrong. Period.

            There isn't even a theological justification for this - Jesus was an easy going guy who hung out prostitutes. His message was very clearly, "get off your high horseand respect others, leave the judgement to god."

            Finally, even if Jesus hated gays (hard to believe with the "God is love" slogan), it still would not be an excuse to allow discrimination any more than we'd allow people to go around assaulting others who work on Sunday just because the Bible says to stone violators of the Sabbath.

          3. Tony's Avatar Tony

            Private Business Owners Have “Civil” Rights too, and All Have God Given Rights. All Business’s Has the Rights to Refuse Service to Anyone for ANy Reason. It Is Their Right. They Should Not Be Forced to Serve Those That They Do Not Want too. It Is Not An Individuals Right to Shop. That Is a Privilege. the Consumer Can Choose to Go Somewhere Else. That Is Their Right. They Do Not Have the Right to Force Someone to Serve Them That Doesn’t Want to. That is a Violation of That Others Rights. You Do Not Have the Right to Violate Other Peoples Rights.

    3. Kendra Rose's Avatar Kendra Rose

      The hate is all stemming from the old testament may as well deny people who eat pork and multifibered clothing. A religion based on love and light has no room for such hate.

    4. Minerva Lopez's Avatar Minerva Lopez

      I agree with you, it is just an issue of hatred. We must pass a law against discrimination ASAP. I love what "PayPal did and refused to bring more business to Georgia because of the new law they passed. Wow! 400 jobs going someone else. "PayPal, you can bring your business and jobs to Florida or Ohio.

      1. Chris's Avatar Chris

        That was North Carolina not Georgia. Governor Deal vetoed the law in Georgia. It was of course because of the threat of job loss. You use what leverage you have to bring about change.It's time to stop rewarding ignorance and hate and that is all these laws are.

    5. Donna Maben.'s Avatar Donna Maben.

      It is an abomination a Sin in Gods eyes. He Loves us but not Sin.Repent of your Sin. Homosexuality is a Demonic Spirit. When you are delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ you will see and know that your mind, body and soul are free. People think they are born this way. Wow aren't they in for an awakening. Delivered and free from Satan's lies that will kill and destroy who you truly are.

      1. Pastor Pete's Avatar Pastor Pete

        It is an animation, a sin in God's eyes. He loves us but not hatred. Repent of your hatred. Hate is a demonic spirit. When you are delivered by the teachings of the Prince of Peace you will see hear and know that your mind body and spirit are free, not encumbered by centuries-old sigma and superstition. People think they are born this way, when we all come into the world pure, wanting nothing more than the nurturing arms of our mother. Wow, aren't they in for a suprise! Delivered and free of Satan's lies, I give you another commandment. Love one another.

      2. Pastor Pete's Avatar Pastor Pete

        Perhaps you could enlighten us on your sources? Satan, for example is not mentioned in the Bible, and if you are basing the rest of your argument on Leviticus, you are, with all due respect, on shaky ground. Please elucidate.

      3. samiswan's Avatar samiswan

        Donna Maben: Cite your sources! You can't just pop off like this and expect to be taken seriously when you don't produce a single reference. To me, it sounds like you may be parroting what you've heard from someone else.

        It's difficult to believe you could be a ULC minister with the intense level of hatred you demonstrate. Please take your hateful nonsense elsewhere. Intelligent people are trying to have a civil, respectful conversation.

        Also, God definitely favors punctuation. Just so you know.

    6. Brionna Burgess's Avatar Brionna Burgess

      When does it stop we are all God's children.Remember when Christ went to the market place and said He who without sin cast the first stone. God's the only one that judges not mankind Can you imagine what would happen if we took all this energy and put it loving each other.Wow we could have Heaven on earth. Wish you all Love Light and Laughter. Brionna

  1. Pastor Pete's Avatar Pastor Pete

    Personally I don't see these bills as a blow for religious freedom as much as they are licences for discrimination. Where does this stop? Could a white supremacist Odinist claim that providing services to black people was an infringement of their beliefs?

    1. Ed Selby's Avatar Ed Selby

      No, because race is one of the federally protected classes in civil rights laws. That's why gender identity and sexual orientation (start with the latter) need to be included in civil rights protections.

      1. Pastor Pete's Avatar Pastor Pete

        Totally on the nose Ed! Here in the UK such discrimination is against the law thank goodness, I'm not saying there are no homophobes over here, but whether motivated by race, religion, gender, sexuality or personal appearance, they are all hate crimes. Hope things go well over your side of the pond.

    2. Chester's Avatar Chester

      I think that should be allowed though. Nobody should be forced to do business with anyone else when it's a private business Remember the typical, “you can’t legislate behavior/morality/whatever.” Well the ones who say this all the time are now the ones trying to do it. If a business doesn’t want to do business with a gay guy, or with me because I’m Asian, oh well. If they go bankrupt, well again, oh well. That’s their problem.

      1. Jeanie's Avatar Jeanie

        Such a disappointing way of looking at civil rights. Sad. And not what this country was built on.

      2. michaelclick's Avatar michaelclick

        Thanks for your "common sense" answer Chester.

  1. Ray Sheren's Avatar Ray Sheren

    The god that i understand and try to teach about to the children in my children's church group does not hat, and asks us all to love eachother. I dont know of any belief that does not teach this so making laws allowing people to practice and spread hate under the discise of religious freedom is no different than the segregation laws of the south, look how wrong those were.

  1. George R Taylor's Avatar George R Taylor

    We are all children of the same.......

  1. Brother John's Avatar Brother John

    It's a sad commentary that this should even be an issue in 2016. But the reality is that the evangelical Christian movement (the core of the anti-gay rhetoric) is powerful in many areas of the U.S. Although it appears that existing civil rights legislation should make such discrimination an offence, perhaps the wording is too vague. If not, attempts to amend current legislation may very well be effective if evangelicals sway enough voters as well as voting themselves.

    That being said, I'm not sure that it's a serious issue unless discrimination becomes so widespread that it affects "religious offenders" in a significant way. LGBT groups have the power of the internet on their side and public shaming can be very effective. Regardless of whether I was a member of their community or not, I wouldn't want to conduct any business with a homophobic bigot and am sure we could all find alternatives if they were identified. It would be more fair to economically punish and publicly shame individual offenders than to have an entire city or state punished for the ignorance of some of it's inhabitants. Assuming that some of the discrimination does contravene existing legislation, lawsuits could also be launched. On the upside, this could present an opportunity for "LGBT friendly" entrepreneurs.

    1. Dr. Griffith's Avatar Dr. Griffith

      While I agree with much of what you say, it is correct to punish the whole state because a majority of the people voted to approve the bill, amendment, law, whatever it is in that state. Despite the fact that most of the time it is a minority, if they somehow get a majority to vote they pass the legislation. Now, the people who were against the bill need to shame those voting for it into changing the bill. Sometimes impacting a whole state is what needs to happen to get people to react. It is sad that this has to happen at all, especially when it is so-called good Christians supporting this nastiness.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  1. Kathryn's Avatar Kathryn

    Too often religious freedom is a metaphor in support of subjugation: one person's religious dogma is another's shackles. In the United States (thus far) we have enjoyed the right to worship/think/ignore the spirituality of our choosing. It would serve our nation well if we all remembered and enforced the idea that the 'fist of freedom' ends at the tip of another's nose.

  1. John Wilson's Avatar John Wilson

    All of these bills are discriminatory and should not be considered, passed or enforced. Additionally, any court that upholds these laws has put the country on a slippery slope to eliminate the separation of church and state. I find discrimination abhorrent.

  1. Tom's Avatar Tom

    I believe that a state legislator in Oklahoma had the right idea. When the state legislature tried to enact a "religious freedom" bill, she proposed an amendment that would require all businesses to place a sign at the door, at the register and on all advertising that stated that persuant to this law they reserved the right to deny service to any person or group based on the religious beliefs of the owner. After a quick consideration, the bill was withdrawn and has yet to surface again. Her reasoning was that if a business wants to discriminate, they should own it, advertise and suffer the consequences. Let the customer decide who they wish to do business with rather than the business deciding who they wish to serve. These laws are hateful and prejudiced and do not belong on the books of a civilized society.

    1. Dark Gray's Avatar Dark Gray

      This is a neat idea. I'm all for people being able to make their own choices, but they need to be willing to accept the consequences of those choices.

      1. Jeanie's Avatar Jeanie

        Discrimination is not an option to be a choice. Some people may not like certain laws but too bad, you don't have to like it. You have obey the law. Black people have rights as should Jews, Gays, everyone. Civil rights!!!!

    2. nancy anne rowe's Avatar nancy anne rowe

      This kind of language should be written into all "religious freedom" legislation. In this way, people can also choose whether or not to support financially those businesses which present themselves publicly as intolerant.

  1. Paul's Avatar Paul

    The problems that I see first off is that the title of the bills are lies. They have nothing to do with freedom so they should not have freedom in the title.

    Also I really do not care what two people are doing in the bedroom near me, as different things for different people. However there are things that are illegal and should stay that way, ones that are actual crimes against other people. Such as having sex with others without their consent, under age, doing permanent damage to the other person, and so forth.

    Far as religion goes, long as they are not harming the innocent. Examples have been deaths associated with religious rituals, sex with minors etc. I see nothing wrong with Luciferian, Catholicism and, even modern Satanism. It is a crime to sacrifice animals, or harm the innocent in most (but not all paths). There are Right hand, Left hand, and those that follow a middle path. All are equally valid, even if it started off as a bet in a coffee shop with science fiction writers.

  1. Dark Gray's Avatar Dark Gray

    Not that I'm against gay marriage -- I was for it before it became fashionable -- but I don't see how it's a good idea to force someone to do something that may be against their religious beliefs.

    1. Ed Selby's Avatar Ed Selby

      Religious freedom is sacrosanct in the US. No one's religious freedoms are abridged when a gay couple gets married. The twist comes when a commercial, for profit, place of public accommodation tries to use religious freedom as an excuse to discriminate. Bakers, florists, and caterers provide tangible real goods to anyone who walks through their doors. They are not allowed to refuse to serve anyone of another race, gender, or religion. I do see a potential issue with photographers or musicians who must attend a same sex wedding (or a re-marriage, or an inter-faith or inter-racial marriage). They do have to "participate".

      Somewhere there is consensus that allows people to obey their conscience/religion without infringing on the rights of others.

    2. Rev. Robin Lynn Frank's Avatar Rev. Robin Lynn Frank

      I find it difficult to see how baking a wedding cake for a gay or lesbian couple is participating in a marriage one disapproves of, while selling a gun to someone who commits murder is not participating in that murder.

      1. Dr. Griffith's Avatar Dr. Griffith

        Ed and Rev Robin are thinking at much to an advanced level for the people who want these kinds of laws. They are just following what someone is telling them to follow. Indoctrination has happened at an early age and it is extremely hard to change once it has happened.

        The intelligent don't feel indoctrination is important because we teach people how to think and allow them to make their own choices based on the thinking process, one may say questioning process. This is why it is so hard and maybe impossible to get change because indoctrination works so much better and is easier.

        The more the society is dumbed down the easier it is to get them to do what you want as we are seeing happen right now in the USA.

    3. Jeanie's Avatar Jeanie

      Because discrimination is not protecting someone's religious belief. If you don't think it's right, then don't do it, but you can't prevent someone else to live their lives and honor their beliefs.

    4. Jeanie's Avatar Jeanie

      Nobody is asking a business to believe in gay marriage just because they bake a cake. You can't change people's beliefs. But you must serve all people in a business because it's the customers civil rights. I don't understand this debate. Does a religious person become non-religious by serving someone the cake? How? They don't become gay or start behaving in ways they feel are against their practice. You can't site religious freedom by harming others, or preventing others from your goods and services. What if that baker is the best in town? Why should the gay client accept anything less? Come on!

    5. Jeanie's Avatar Jeanie

      Like forcing white owners of a business to allow African Americans in? What if they only wish to serve whites? Are you saying that's ok? Sounds like it. Very sad.

  1. Pastor Pete's Avatar Pastor Pete

    How do you think most of the White people on Rosa Parks' bus felt? Point is, it's about a legal situation, personal beliefs don't really come into it, if this woman found her beliefs came into conflict with the job she was sworn to do, she should have quit. Discrimination is wrong, also illegal, let's not go backwards for goodness sake.

  1. Dark Gray's Avatar Dark Gray

    I've got two serious questions for the folks here. It looks like pretty much every everyone who has commented so far here hates the idea of laws allowing bakers, florists, and photographers to refuse their services (presumably to same-sex couples) on the basis of religious conviction. I'd like to take this a little further toward its logical conclusion.

    My first question is: Should there be anti-discrimination laws put in place making it illegal to refuse wedding services (cakes, flowers, photography) to same-sex couples, even on the basis of religious conviction?

    That is, even if a cake-baker, a florist, or a photographer feels that same-sex marriages violate their religious beliefs, should they face civil or criminal penalties for refusing service to same-sex couples?

    My second question is: Should this also apply to clergy? If not, why not?

    Again, I'm personally not against gay marriage. I'd happily officiate for two gay men or two lesbian women if I were asked and had the time. This is more along the lines of "I may disagree with your opinions, but I'll defend to the death your right to hold them."

    See, back when same-sex marriage was being debated, I'd occasionally hear of some hysterical conservative preacher somewhere shrieking that if same-sex marriage were legalized, then he'd be put in jail if he didn't want to marry a pair of "sodomites". The response generally given was, "Don't be silly. This is just about the right of same-sex couples to get married. No one's going to force you to perform these ceremonies."

    Now, though, I'm not so sure the hysterical preacher was entirely wrong . . .

    1. Pastor Pete's Avatar Pastor Pete

      Let's look at this yet another way, what would the legal response be should a minister refuse to marry a black couple because he didnt like their skin? This situation is no different really, being gay is not a choice any more than being of an ethnic group. So yes, discrimination is discrimination whether it's based on race, wealth, sexuality, whatever, anybody who transgresses the law should be punished regardless of profession.

      1. Dark Gray's Avatar Dark Gray

        So your answers are yes and yes? You would attempt to force a conservative Southern Baptist preacher or a Catholic priest to perform a gay wedding, even though their culture, their religious convictions, or their Church might forbid it? Interesting. You're certainly consistent, and I admire that.

        Let me pose one further question then. In Judaism, there's such as thing as a religious divorce decree, called a 'get'. This is different from a civil divorce decree obtained through the courts. A married Jewish couple can get a civil divorce without obtaining a get. I'm not directly familiar with the custom, but it's my understanding that certain rabbis will refuse to officiate at a wedding where one party is divorced but does not have a get.

        Does this also constitute unacceptable discrimination, in your opinion?

        1. Pastor Pete's Avatar Pastor Pete

          Mmmm, interesting. I would say that this is not discrimination, not in the same ballpark. This is about the rules, much in the same way that divorcees can't be married in a Catholic Church. You may think that being gay transgresses the rules laid out in the Bible, but as you well know many of the "laws" of the Old Testament are ignored, or reinterpreted, the subject of much debate, so on the whole, no, this is about people's actions, not a negative reaction to their existence.

          1. John Wilson's Avatar John Wilson

            Nobody "has" to perform wedding unless they are an elected official or an appointed judge. It is incumbent on these people to perform the legal services required of marriage. This is not unlike Davis needing to issue marriage licenses because it is the role and legal obligation of her office. Interpretation of the Bible (old or new) has been driven by greed and changing social norms. In post WWII United States protestant churches would excommunicate divorced women until the social norm changed and the actions of the churches were costing them money. The performance of marriage is one small aspect of freedom of religion laws.....the primary thrust is to discriminate against a 'group' of people and is the same as discrimination against blacks that went on for hundreds of years. Change blacks to Hispanics or Chinese or Muslim in the previous sentence since our country seems to thrive on prejudice (see Donald Trump) I expect we will never be a society of tolerance.

          2. Dark Gray's Avatar Dark Gray

            Well, I think we're going to have to agree to disagree here, Pete, my friend. You've been equating discrimination against gays with discrimination against blacks, and that's a good comparison. I've used it myself. But it's not perfect. There's virtually no Biblical support for an anti-black stance, but even you admit that there is some for an anti-gay stance. For some folks, that's big.

            I know people of good conscience who are gay, and I also know people of good conscience who, through upbringing or ignorance or whatever, happen to be anti-gay. For some of the latter, I think they just need time and space to come to terms with the idea. But God loves them all equally, and I feel I'm called to love them all equally as well.

            I simply believe it's possible to support same-sex marriage without ramming it down the throats of everyone who hasn't accepted it yet.

        2. Jeanie's Avatar Jeanie

          Dark Grey, no clergy should ever be forced to perform a ceremony they would never choose to perform. Their "business" is clearly defined and they shouldn't violate that for anyone. State appointed notaries, judges, or any other justice of the peace, Officiant, that is regulated by the state, not the church, temple, or mosque, should be obligated to perform same sex marriage. I'm an Officiant who performs them. But I have a religious Christian minister who does not. It's very clear how this can work fairly. Please don't debate and argue for the sake of being contrary. There is a separation and should be of church and state.

    2. Tom's Avatar Tom

      The answer to your first question is yes. Discrimination in any form against any person or group should be punishable by law. Your second question is different. Clergy, in the performance of their ordained duties should not be punished under anti-discrimination laws. If that were the case, catholic priests would have been taken to task years ago for refusing to marry previously divorced persons. Clergy are In the religion business, bakers and others serving the general public are not in such a business. For them I would go back to my earlier comment and require them to post signage indicating their choice to refuse service.

      1. John Wilson's Avatar John Wilson

        Could that signage include blacks, Hispanics, Muslims and any other peoples that the business doesn't want to serve? If that's the case then we need to go back to 1965 and revisit the last 50 years of work committed to equal rights.

        1. Tom's Avatar Tom

          What happened yesterday in North Carolina should answer your question. Mr. Gump was right. "Stupid is as stupid does."

      2. Dark Gray's Avatar Dark Gray

        So you're saying that "[d]iscrimination in any form against any person or group should be punishable by law" except for clergy? Or that ordained people are the only ones legally allowed to have religious convictions?

        (Hmm. That came out harsher than I intended. I'm not condemning your viewpoint, just trying to find out what you think and to stimulate nuanced discussion. I agree that the two questions are different, but trying to decide just why is tricky, IMHO. And as I mentioned above, I think the signage idea is clever.)

        1. Tom's Avatar Tom

          Thanks. Let me clarify. I believe there is a distinct difference between being in the business of religion (church, convent, monastery, etc.) where a clergyperson represents a dogmatic, theological position and delivers his/her message to a body of members. Being in any other business, regardless of ones deeply held and personal religious beliefs, is very different. As a business man I offer my services and products to the public at large and I must accept that there are going to be many clients who do not share the same religious beliefs as I do. If I am selling cakes, I could care less who purchases one or why they purchase it. I have sold a cake. If a client wishes to take it home, pour lighter fluid all over it, light it up and dance naked around it, I could care less. I have sold another cake. I am not being asked to serve the cake, eat the cake or clap when it is cut. Clergy, on the other hand, are obligated to explain the rules and expect members to live by those rules. They can ask anyone to leave the congregation for violating those rules, in fact, St. Paul encouraged that very thing when he told the Corinthians to cast out the evil doers amongst them. That is not discrimination, that is saying we have rules and if you wish to be a member here you must conform to the rule. Businesses in the public sector do not require memberships. They do not make, quote or enforce the rules of religion. They sell products and services and in this economy, they should be very glad to have a client regardless of their religious thinking or lack of it. I hope this clarifies my thought.

    3. Dr. Griffith's Avatar Dr. Griffith

      Yes, it would be okay to have an anti-discrimination law punishing those who refuse others different from them or who have different beliefs than they do. That's easy. Clergy would not be part of this because they are not a for-profit business. They represent God and as such they should not have a problem with doing it. If, on the otherhand they are advertising their "marriage service" they should be held to the law as they have become, for-profit.

      Also, I have yet to find anywhere in The New Testament of the Bible a condemnation of LGBT people and same sex marriage. Now, some of the other things that are rampant in our society are condemned in The New Teatament and yet no complaint from Christians is heard.

      I write New Testament because a Chrisitan should be basing their beliefs on the teachings of Jesus.

    4. Brian Balke's Avatar Brian Balke

      Regarding the clergy issue: what couple in their right minds would want to force someone to marry them? As long as there are services available, I would argue that fundamental rights are not infringed.

      This leads me in this direction on the broader issue: First, INSTITUTIONALIZED and STATE-ENFORCED systems of discrimination (such as Jim Crow) must be absolutely illegal. In the private sphere, if someone wants to discriminate, their terms of discrimination should necessarily be posted at all entrances to their establishment so as to prevent disappointment and hostility with customers. That defines a clear opportunity for other service providers to fill the need, and for customers that disagree with the policies of the owners to vote with their feet.

      Consider this from the engaged couple's point of view: would you really want to have someone involved in your wedding that despised you? All they have to do is frost over a burned cake and the event is ruined. I'd rather have this in the open than to foment resentment between private parties. But service providers can't have it both ways: they can't keep their prejudice hidden and still reserve the right to discriminate.

      The next step is as regards establishments that don't by their nature implicitly sanction or inveigh against homosexual relationships. This would include restaurants and dry cleaners. We have signs on stores that say "no shirt, no shoes, no service." Would it be unreasonable to advertise "Persons exhibiting amorous behavior will be denied service"? So long as no sexual preference is demonstrated, nobody is the wiser. And to me it seems just polite to avoid offending the sensibilities of your neighbors.

      But to clarify my position from a religious perspective: when the pastor of the local mega-church told his people to vote "biblically" the Sunday before California's Prop 8 election, I went up to him after services, took his hand to be certain that he understood that I wasn't hostile to him, and told him "When I read the New Testament, I understand that Jesus wanted the covenant to be extended to as many people as possible, and that's how I'm going to vote on Tuesday."

    5. Jeanie's Avatar Jeanie

      You sadden me. Everyone is entitled to pursue happiness and live and love as they wish and it doesn't prevent you from your beliefs. A cake baker won't all of sudden believe in gay marriage by making a cake.

  1. Pastor Pete's Avatar Pastor Pete

    I hear you Gray, I myself don't believe it's possible to follow the Bible one hundred per cent, Leviticus for example is plainly nonsense, but people pick and choose verses as they see fit. I hope I'm a follower of Jesus, and we know what the word is there, love one another. Frankly my brother it seems to me that ol' time religion is forced down my throat by proselytising Christians on a daily basis, what annoys me is the assumption of moral high ground these guys assume. So I'm sure that gay rights are quite as difficult for some people as civil rights were back in the bad old days, an imperfect comparison, however slavery is condoned in the Old Testament, and I'm sure some of the Southern preachers would have had a great deal to say about that back then. People have many rights, nobody has the right to not be offended, if anybody finds anybody else's state of being to be "wrong", too bad, I love them you understand, but ignorant people need to be educated...or move somewhere there are no gay people... good luck with that! Anyway, good to hear from you brother, God bless you

    1. Tom's Avatar Tom

      Well said!

  1. Dark Gray's Avatar Dark Gray

    You know, try as I might, I can't find anything here to disagree with, my brother! :-)

  1. elainedeprince's Avatar elainedeprince

    Georgia has just passed Religious Liberty Legislation, and it is sitting on the Governor Nathan Deal's desk waiting for approval or veto. The economic risks are great, but the risks to civil liberties are greater. This bill does not necessarily pertain to religious beliefs about LGBT but could apply to religious beliefs about people of other religions, races and ethnicities as well. Are we taking a step back to 1962 with this legislation?

    1. Tom's Avatar Tom

      And the Givernor vetoed that bill. Hooray for him!

    2. Brother John's Avatar Brother John

      But other states aren't so "progressive".

  1. Wolf's Avatar Wolf

    What about "One persons freedom ends where another persons freedom begins". Then we can all live our lives in peace and live the religion or any life style we want? Hatred isn't freedom, it's just plain simple hatred. You can sugar coat it or hide it under religious beliefs, it's still hatred. And being tolerant to different beliefs or life styles doesn't mean that you think they are good, you just show that you are an evolved human being.

  1. Pastor frank gaeta's Avatar Pastor frank gaeta

    Pastor frank.... I do not agree with same sex marriage, sorry its not biblical, I believe in God, and His choice for humanity is man and woman united, nothing more.... In Jesus name, blessings

  1. Shepherd Mike's Avatar Shepherd Mike

    I have performed several same-sex wedding ceremonies. I personally don't have an issue with the legal joining of any two consenting adults. That said, do we really need more laws? These "religious freedom" laws may be an excuse for many people to discriminate... but are we, in turn, discriminating by mandating true adherents to a belief system do as we have done? It's a slippery slope. At what point do the oppressed become the oppressor?

    Better than more laws, why not let "the market" solve the problem? There is growing economic opportunity that these people will miss out on. As well, if someone says that they can't perform a service because (fill in the blank)... just don't spend your money there, put it on facebook and twitter and whatever else. Utilizing the tools of society to hit them where it hurts: Their pocket.

    We'll never change their minds, they'll never change ours. Trying to force anyone to believe what they do not will never work.

  1. Mike's Avatar Mike

    My take, for what it's worth. There are many, many businesses in the country. Bakeries, florists, churches, B&Bs etc that will do business with anyone. Why does less than 5% of the population get to dictate what we must see and do? I know, I'm a hateful person, so you will say. I don't go out of my way to do business somewhere that I am not welcome, and there are many. I don't feel I need to throw a temper tantrum if I can't buy my favorite kosher dinner at Red Lobster. This may be too over the top for some to understand but if you want a cake, hotel room, banquet venue.........don't look for a place that really doesn't agree with you. I think a gay couple is smart enough NOT to go to a Muslim run bakery and expect a cake or any kind of respect. Again. just my take.

    1. Bob Anderson's Avatar Bob Anderson

      "Why does less than 5% of the population get to dictate what we must see and do?" For the same reason that the 12% of the population that are African American have similar laws protecting their rights. YOU may CHOOSE not to order from a business for whatever reason, but that business should not have the right to refuse you service.based upon their prejudices. Can you just imagine the squalls of anger should businesses suddenly start demanding the right not to serve Christians?

  1. Granny Janet's Avatar Granny Janet

    This country does NOT need 'laws' allowing discrimination and the ability to JUDGE others based on their religion, race, creed, sexually orientation. Churches, restaurants, retail stores, bakeries etc., are PUBLIC places and if they don't want to serve the public then close their doors! Remember back when black folks were not allowed to use white folks bathrooms, water fountains, eat in the same restaurants, even attend the same churches among other things? Well these 'Bills' are the exact same thing just packaged with a different bow.

  1. Dragon Priest's Avatar Dragon Priest

    Modern day Christianity fails miserably at the teachings of Jesus of love and forgiveness. I've never read in his own words, not some one else's, about gays. That manner of hatred comes from the old harsh and unforgiving old testament deity. I do know that the TRUE GOD doesnt hate at all, so if you believe that he made us all, then he made them that way also. Conservative political Christianity, Dominion people, are really Satanists in form. I do think Christianity is on its way out, just look at the numbers. I'll be surprised if it's here in 100 years. We see in the middle East what religious intolerance does to humans. There is way too much hatred in this nation due to politics and religion.

  1. Chaplain Dawn's Avatar Chaplain Dawn

    Here is the discrimination, If the Legislators really wanted to do this right they would pass a law saying no clergy could perform weddings only state/city commissioned. Then they pass the law that says marriage is only between a man/ woman and state commissioners can only perform this type of wedding. It's chicken shit to force it on the businesses. Let's remember that marriage is a legal right not a religious right. At any time the state could decide that clergy can no longer officiate weddings. But they are too scared to do this because they would prefer to discriminate and have all marriages look the way they think they should look instead of understanding that love is love and when you take out of the box it sees no skin color, sexual orientation or any other differences.

  1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

    Any private business has an absolute right to refuse service to anyone, with or without any explanation. Sometimes, you just don't want to do business with certain people. It could be because of some kind of bigotry, or maybe they seem to be more trouble than they are worth, as a customer. Sometimes, you can do business with one, but lose more business because of it. It is unreasonable and unacceptable to try to force someone to do business with you.

  1. SteveKinNJ's Avatar SteveKinNJ

    How come certain special interest groups have civil rights but business owners special interest group doesn't have civil rights?

  1. Steve's Avatar Steve

    Growing up in Texas I remember seeing a little sign in a lot of businesses. It read: "We reserve the right to refuse anyone service". I see nothing wrong with that. Why should a business owner be forced to provide service for any reason?

  1. Grizzly's Avatar Grizzly

    You can't legislate decent human behavior. I think the majority of anti-discrimination laws have had good intentions but the road to hell is also paved with those same intentions. Decent behavior and respect for others has to be taught at home and in the community. Personally I think those businesses are wrong but they have the right to choose their clientele. Being forced to provide services to those they have ill conceived notions about doesn't make anyone on either side feel better. The economy, education, personal exposure and time will eventually move them either out of business or to change their practices. Being a minister with this organization I'm proud to provide faith based ministries to whoever needs it regardless of what their orientation, race color or creed is.

  1. CRAIG's Avatar CRAIG

    When two same sex people go out for a meal or a beer, no one sizes you up for your sexual status (well I'm probably wring, but MOST people). I don't know why it has become fashionable to quibble over sexual orientation.

    Actually I do. It has come to the point that the older ideals of what is "proper" and "right" are coming into the 21st century and it's a floundering minority trying to hold onto some antiquated morality.

    Homosexuality has been around as long as mankind and it's time to acknowledge and accept. It's not any of your business what your neighbors do--worry about yourself and what you're doing.

  1. Chris's Avatar Chris

    I have yet to read of any case where someone was forced to do something that went against their religious beliefs. With the exception of Kim Davis. She of course was refusing to do her civil elected job as is the case of many judges that have a problem as well. That of course is the job they were elected to do and falls in a completely different categories of wedding venues, florist, bakery. We of course have the one bakery in Washington state who claimed they were being sued for refusing service to a same sex couple. On closer examination of the story it turns out they were not sued by the couple at all. They were fined for releasing that couples name and address causing that couple to be harassed for filing a complaint against the bakery. Then you had the pizza restaurant that was going out of business that claimed they would rather shut their doors than carter a gay wedding. "Maybe it's just me but I have yet to attend a same sex wedding where pizza was brought in". We also have Tue wedding venue that closed rather than host a same sex wedding. The only thing that I have seen is a lot of religious bigotry. We had laws just like these once before. Jim Crow laws were wrong then and they are wrong now. We hide behind our Religious Liberty laws and claim to be Christians when it is anything but Christ like. I live in Georgia and I am proud to say Governor Deal was wise enough to say he could see no reason to sign a bill that could be used as discrimination against others.

  1. Steven J Frey's Avatar Steven J Frey

    This entire debate is meaningless. As a business owner, I have the right to refuse service to ANYONE. I will NEVER perform a wedding ceremony for a same sex couple, based on my own religious beliefs, however, I would be a fool to announce that as my reason to refuse service. A same sex couple's right to get married do not over rule my rights to not marry them.

    1. Chris's Avatar Chris

      I seriously doubt you will ever have to marry a same sex couple. The HRC "Human Rights Campaign" has a list of ministers that are more than willing to marry same sex couples. It keeps me busy because I am willing to celebrate love regardless if the couple is of the same sex. Most of the wedding I have been to the couple is looking to celebrate love not cause controversy. If your religious belief does not celebrate love mine does.

  1. Nikki Strycker's Avatar Nikki Strycker

    Rev Nikki I think that we all just need to stop hating and just love and get along with eachother...I personally dislike gays because of my own personal bad experience but as a God fearing minister It's my duty to love just like God loved everyone regardless of my own personal feelings...and yes I will perform my services to everyone that wants to be married....just respect the laws of our country and get along...I have never read anywhere in the bible where God said that everyone should not be I believe that there should be a law to protect everyone rights except for child molesters and murderers...a true Christian lives by what's motto is what right is right and wrong is wrong..Thank you Lord for letting me be part of life and for giving me the knowledge to love everyone equally in your name AMEN

  1. David Robertson's Avatar David Robertson

    To me the most logical stance is a Libertarian philosophy. Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual's human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation. However, members of private organizations retain their rights to set whatever standards of association they deem appropriate. If some private business discriminates that's unfortunate, but the government should not get involved in banning it. That's just a negative that we have to tolerate in a free society. However, individuals are free to respond with ostracism, boycotts and other free market solutions. .Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government's treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.

  1. Rev Bird's Avatar Rev Bird

    I believe for many the issue has become, as stated previuosly, one of equal rights versus superior rights. One does not have to look very hard to see the examples of actions which, if done by one group are ok, but when done by another are deemed prejudicial. The right or wrong of an action should not depend upon who commits the action.

  1. Ed's Avatar Ed

    Here's the thing, why aren't people discussing that Muslim bakers are doing the same, as much as Christian:

    "a florist is participating in a gay wedding the same way that gun manufacturers participate in school shootings" Thank you. You've posted the most retarded post of the day. Florists, will directly interact with their clients. Gun manufacturers almost never interact with the public. Most sell only to those with actual FFLs, which often is not the public. So they would be directly participating in said event. Gun manufacturers could be located on the other side of the country, and never see any buyers, including the millions that never commit any crimes.

    Also, note how some businesses want to refuse service, but instead of them going somewhere else, the rabid people decide to take them to court, and sue them for as much money as they can get from them. This goes back to all these mad happy people, making lawsuits for the sake of getting money and greed, not because of any actual "justice." If denied service, go somewhere else. Simple economics. If a business notices a drop in revenue, they'll change their policy, or go under. Or maybe, they'll be more people who don't like LGBTQ's forcing their lifestyle on everyone else, and they'll actually grow in business. While they want to voice their issues, they shouldn't be able to force their beliefs on others, either. It must be both ways, or they become the very hypocrites they crusade against.

  1. Rev. Wayne Gibbons's Avatar Rev. Wayne Gibbons

    Question: What would Jesus do? Not sure, however, Jesus did say: "Love one another as I have loved you." Jesus did not say, "Love one another as I have loved you, except if you neighbor is a homosexual or a sinner." I believe he did mention, "Love the sinner, despise the sin." Things are much different now than in Jesus' time. Keep God in your heart and do unto others as you would have done to you. The God I worship does not hate. He does become disjointed and does find some acts to be abominable and against what He wishes, but I have never read in the Bible where God has used the word "Hate" If I missed the word Hate in what God has said, please direct me to that passage. Rev. Wayne Gibbons

  1. Pastor Pete's Avatar Pastor Pete

    Oh come on now! This is rubbish. By your reasoning Sister Rosa Parks should have just sat where she was allowed and feel grateful? Goodness me, I wonder how many of your friends and workmates are secretly gay and afraid of dinosaurs like you? This is a civil rights issue, and if you can't see that I feel sorry for you. Wake up!

  1. John Wilson's Avatar John Wilson

    here's a good summary from the 'bully project' If you have to make laws to hurt a group of people just to prove your morals and faith........... then you have no true morals or faith to prove.

  1. samiswan's Avatar samiswan

    As a married woman who is straight but never narrow-minded, when same-sex marriage became legal, I saw such disappointing responses from many members of the clergy that I decided to become ordained, in order to perform the marriages that

  1. samiswan's Avatar samiswan

    {I apologize. My kitty jumped on the keyboard.} To continue: I decided to become ordained, in order to perform the marriages that other clergy members refused to do. I expect to receive my credentials in a few weeks, and then be available when necessary. I have every confidence that this is happening in cities all over the country. So yes, there will be people available when needed.


    Does a same sex marriage qualify as a marriage in The Holy Bible. You know the book that says Holy Bible on the cover.If so please show us all so we know. Thank you. Chapter book and verse would be wonderful.

  1. DJ's Avatar DJ

    "Love thy neighbor as thyself." God created all people- not just one religious group to decide who (they) would pick & choose. People are who they are - ALL created by Divine intelligence. Discrimination is not intelligence.

  1. Tony's Avatar Tony

    Although there Is a Reality of Possible Economic Blowback from LBGT Supporting Corporations, The Argument Should Never be Based On Economic Factors by Any Religious Organization or Minister. Give unto Caesar" What Is Caesar's" Did Jesus Base His Decisions on What The Economic Impact May Be ? No, i Don't Believe He Did. Nor Did Buddha, Mohammad, or Any Other Spiritual Personality That i Know Of. For Believers, Discrimination and Faith Do Not Fit Together. One Must Trust In the Creators Purpose and Plan for Each Individual. We Are Not the Judges and Jury Here. Compassion Is Called For, and Understanding Is Critical on the Side of the Clergy. Regardless of What Faith You Follow. That Said, i Remember the Day When Businesses Had Signs That Stated They Reserved the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone for Any Reason. It Is Their Business and If They As an Individual Business Decide to Exclude Certain Clientele, Then it Is Actually Their Right to Do So, For Whatever Reason. They Will Suffer the Economic Impact As Individuals As Well and it Doesn't Have to Include the Whole Community. Freedom to Choose Runs Both Ways. The Clients Will Decide If the Business Thrives or Dies from It's Choice. The Institution Of Marriage Is Defined by A Contract With the State in This Modern Age. True Marriage Is a Contract With the Creator. It Is In the Heart Where a True Marriage Resides, Not on the Piece of Paper or In the Legislature. The Real Question That Should Be Posed Here Is Not Whether a Private Business Should Bake a Cake, But Should a Minister Be Forced to Conduct a Ceremony That Is Against His or Her's Religious Doctrine. i Do Not See That Question Raised in Context, and That Is What All Here Should be Concerned About When You Are Talking About the State Stepping In With Laws to Govern Your Religious Freedom and Sanctity. This Is the Real Issue That Will Be Run Up Against. Church and State. Still Separate ?! Was it Ever ? hmmm. Most of Your Discrimination In This Matter Is Shortsighted Misguidance at Best and Planned Political Division At Worst. the First and Foremost Concern of Any Clergy Should be the Spiritual Ramifications of Such Activities, Not Economical Ones.

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