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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Showing posts with label Phil Robertson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Phil Robertson. Show all posts

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Phil Robertson, Gay Marriage, and Equality Laws

Phil Robertson's remarks in GQ magazine on homosexual sex have caused quite a commotion, so much so that the Duck Dynasty star has been placed on indefinite suspension from his reality show by A&E. But is such a suspension fair? How does this comport with recent legal rulings against discrimination?

If we look at recent court decisions, the rulings have been clear: corporations cannot deny service or discriminate against individuals who use their services simply because the corporation has taken a principled stance on the topic of homosexuality. Just this month Colorado Judge Robert Spenser held that baker Jack Phillips was violating Colorado's anti-discrimination laws by denying to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple. Spenser decided that even though Phillips was earnest in his beliefs that homosexual marriages are wrong, his view "fails to take into account the cost to society and the hurt caused to persons who are denied service simply because of who they are" (emphasis added).[1]

Interestingly, Bosson rejected the claim that this law should be weighed against the standard of strict scrutiny and narrow definition to which other laws that limit religious liberty are held.  Bosson said that the law in question is valid because it "is both neutral and of general applicability… therefore Respondents are not free to ignore its restrictions even though it may incidentally conflict with their religiously-driven conduct."[2]

Similarly, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against Elane Huguenin and her wedding photography business for failing to violate her conviction and photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. In his concurring opinion, New Mexico Justice Richard Bosson wrote that the Huguenins "are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives." Bosson continued, "In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different" (emphasis added).

So, the law is clear. A corporation cannot discriminate against a person or persons when the deeply held beliefs of that corporation conflict with the views of those who use its services. Even if artistic merit is involved, the decisions above seem to reach beyond the specific cases and attempt to make a moral statement that corporations must bow to the beliefs of the individual. And the decisions say that this is the case because there is a compelling interest to seek equality, that is to not discriminate against individuals because of who they are. The decisions make a moral claim that equality for all supersedes corporate positions.

So tell me why is Phil Robertson's suspension from the Duck Dynasty for being simply who he is and stating his beliefs considered OK? Will the ACLU come to his aid like it did the homosexual couple in Colorado? Isn't it just as discriminatory to deny Robertson his ability to make a living on his show just because he believes something different than the A&E executives do as it is to deny a homosexual couple a wedding cake because one does not believe in homosexual marriage? Is this an example of "neutral in applicability", or is it an example of only forcing a single belief—the one that says homosexual relations are OK—onto the public sphere? Does Robertson being an employee make a difference? If Robertson was suspended because he supported homosexual marriage and the company didn't, would there be any concern?

In all, one shouldn't be surprised that moral stances can be so unevenly applied in a single direction. The double-standard simply highlights what we have known for a while. The homosexual lobby has no interest in equality. It simply wants to force itself upon everyone and woe to those who offer any type of criticism. Discrimination against critics is not only allowed but mandatory.


1. Initial Decision: Charlie Craig and David Mullins v. Masterpiece Cakeshop Inc & Anor CR 2013-0008, PDF 266.58kb, 06 DEC 13

2. Ibid.

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