Gay Marriage

How RFRA Became Controversial

Disputes about birth control and gay marriage undermine bipartisan support for religious freedom.


When President Bill Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993, the law had broad support in both major political parties and was widely perceived as an expression of a pluralistic society's tolerance. When Gov. Mike Pence signed Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act last week, the law became a bitterly partisan issue, denounced by Democrats across the country as an instrument of bigotry.

This dramatic shift in attitudes has less to do with the substance of the statute, which is similar to the federal version that has been around for more than two decades, than with the perceived motives of the law's supporters. Progressives who used to defend religious freedom have turned against it because they see it as a cover for conservative causes.

Indiana's RFRA, like the federal version, says the government "may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" unless it can show that the imposition is "the least restrictive means" of serving "a compelling governmental interest." That is the test the Supreme Court applied under the First Amendment until 1990, when it changed course and ruled that neutral, generally applicable laws are constitutional even if they make it difficult or impossible for someone to practice his religion.

The 1990 case involved two Oregon members of the Native American Church who were fired from their jobs as drug counselors and denied unemployment benefits because they consumed peyote cactus buttons, which contain the psychedelic mescaline. At the time the church's ceremonial use of peyote was exempted from the federal ban on peyote but not Oregon's.

The idea that the government can prohibit an essential religious practice without violating the First Amendment provoked dismay across the political spectrum. That reaction was reflected in nearly unanimous congressional support for RFRA, which was approved by a voice vote in the House and passed the Senate with just three dissenters.

After the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that RFRA cannot constitutionally be applied to state or local governments, state legislatures began passing their own versions of the law. Twenty states, including Indiana, now have them; in 11 more, state constitutions have been interpreted to impose similar restrictions.

For years the American Civil Liberties Union and other left-leaning organizations supported these laws, which have been used to protect minority religious practices involving animal sacrifices, eagle feathers, long hair, symbolic daggers, and the psychedelic tea ayahuasca, among other things. But last year, when the Supreme Court said the federal RFRA requires exceptions to Obamacare's contraceptive mandate, the ACLU declared that free birth control takes precedence over religious freedom.

Similarly, social conservatives who supported Indiana's RFRA portrayed it as a shield for bakers, florists, photographers, and other business owners who face discrimination complaints because they decline to participate in gay weddings. Indiana's RFRA explicitly applies to judicial or administrative proceedings in which the government is not a party, which would include discrimination complaints.

Despite the national uproar provoked by the terrifying prospect that the law would help people who balk at baking gay wedding cakes or photographing gay weddings, that possibility remains speculative. University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, an expert on religious liberty who supports gay marriage but is sympathetic to the claims of conscientious objectors who do not want to facilitate it, notes that "nobody has ever won a religious exemption from a discrimination law under a RFRA standard."

RFRA's impact on such cases would be relevant only in Indianapolis, Bloomington, and South Bend, which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Indiana law does not, which means the "license to discriminate" that worries RFRA opponents already exists in most of the state.

On Tuesday, while promising an amendment to clarify that the new law "does not give anyone a license to deny services to gay and lesbian couples," Pence lamented that the RFRA controversy has unfairly sullied Hoosiers' reputation for hospitality. Rather more troubling is the damage that such overheated arguments have done to bipartisan respect for religious freedom.

© Copyright 2015 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Rather more troubling is the damage that such overheated arguments have done to bipartisan respect for religious freedom.

    Including Nick Gillespie.

    1. He’s really got a thing for gay butt sex. I still want to know if he’s married.

  2. How long until Gillespie uses this kerfuffle as evidence of the libertarian moment? I’m sure the Hoosier boycotters are advocating a libertarian replacement…

    1. How long before you use it for tedious trolling? Oh, that’s right, you already have.

      1. BP,

        You should realize that you may very well be communicating with the other jacket; the one Nick tossed out because it was irritable and too clingy.

        1. There can be only one.

          1. Wait, how can Jackets behead each other? Or is it just their hosts in danger?

            1. No, no, no, once you take the sandcows as your skin, the process cannot be reversed. The transformation begins, though it will take thousands of years, into a God-Editor. As a Kwittheshitz Hadenough like Nick, albeit one who turned away from the Godamned Path, I know these things.

              1. Pro,

                I see that you have read from the book “Of Stillsuits and Quickening Jackets.”

                1. I see that you have read from the book “Of Stillsuits and Quickening Jackets.”

                  I assumed he just knew their ways as if they were his own. He speaks these words as though on the steps of the temple at Arrakeen.

  3. It’s a stupid law, though not for the reasons most are saying right now. “Religious freedom” really isn’t a thing…there’s just freedom. Being religious doesn’t grant you extra rights that others don’t have.

    What really should be happening is a sober conversation about public accommodation laws and freedom of association, but…yeah, I know, I started laughing as I typed this.

    1. It’s a stupid law, though not for the reasons most are saying right now.

      So reaffirming that one form of freedom the government has tried to take away is in fact a right that everyone enjoys is bad, unless simultaneously all other forms of freedom are also affirmed as inalienable rights?

      1. Shorter: so marginal improvements in freedom are bad, because some might temporarily be less abused by government than others until the next marginal improvement?

        1. Agreed. Divide and conquer works well, too well.

          1. True since biblical times and true now.

      2. Ya…except no one is taking away Christians rights, in fact politicians pay way too much attention to Christians. This law is simply asshole Christian Republicans seeking government help to discriminate against other people. I could really give a fuck if you weak-minded shitheads don’t like minorities, gays, etc, then don’t open a fucking business in a country where they live and have pay taxes.

        1. Look up the term narcissist asshole.My brther is gay so Ive known about that lifestyle since before your ignorant entitled self was born.
          I support traditional marriage and religious freedom and guess what….my gay brother has no pxs with that.
          You are a brave keyboard commando…. bet you wear a skirt when someone you disagree with is present.
          Get out of mommies basement and get a job.

    2. It’s not a stupid law. The Supreme Court, scared of the drugs, weakened the free exercise right in the First Amendment, but basically invited Congress to make a law to strengthen the right. Congress did, which, of course, was supported by members of both parties, with Clinton ultimately signing the bill into law.

      The court later said the federal law didn’t apply to the states, more of less, so the states have been passing such laws for a while now.

      Frankly, the problem this reflects is that the assumption that we are free and that government incursions on any of our freedoms, not just those expressly protected in the Bill of Rights, are to be strictly limited and generally prohibited is mostly gone. Now government actions are presumed legal, the justification for infringing on civil liberties is often quite weak, and we continue to lose our freedoms.

      1. +1

        1. Agree your ladyship … Pro Liberate’s is the most informative and insightful comment that I’ve read on this issue anywhere.

          Pretty much everything else I’ve read has been either been an eruption of feelings about how awful the legislation and the people behind it are, or rather basic libertarian reasoning on freedom of association.

    3. “Religious freedom” really isn’t a thing…there’s just freedom”

      Then what does the First Amendment mean when it speaks of the free exercise of religion?

      1. It means free gym membership for all obese religions. With mandatory attendance.

    4. Actually you are wrong. You just don’t want to believe that YOU are actually protected by that very ‘religious freedom’ you seem to resent. You choose to define ‘religion’ narrowly – when it was originally defined VERY broadly – even by founders who were irreverent/agnostic towards churches/institutions of ‘religion’.

      Thomas Jefferson – in his ‘wall of separation’ letter – Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, THAT THE LEGITIMATE POWERS OF GOVERNMENT REACH ACTIONS ONLY AND NOT OPINIONS, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State…

      The more narrowly you choose to define ‘religion’, the more you cut off your own ability to protect your opinions, your beliefs, your conscience from being intruded upon.

      The more you want to carve out ‘reason’ as separate from and superior to ‘superstition’ as a basis for your particular beliefs, the more you simply create a ‘rational’ basis for government to create whatever Year Zero brainwashing the polity wants to create in order to control opinions rather than actions.

      1. Completely this.

  4. You simply cannot hand victim class members and their white knights something they can point to as an ogre and not expect them to us it to re-energize the cause. When so very much of your identity is pegged to being oppressed or battling for the oppressed, you’re going to work hard to slay something like the RFRA no matter what rights of others need to go with it.

    1. RFRA isn’t about free association so much as it’s about creating a two-tiered system. Absolute free association rights for the religious believer, overbearing regulations for the non-believer — including preservation of special privileges for religious believers to force non-believers to serve them.

      You want real free association? No need for RFRA. Just repeal all the state nondiscrimination statutes.

      Would the RFRA boosters accept a world where a secularist could say “sorry, no Baptists in my store?” Of course not.

      They love their state power, and you’re letting them use a phony free association argument to embrace and extend that state power over others.

      1. They love their state power, and you’re letting them use a phony free association argument to embrace and extend that state power over others.

        If anybody is extending their power, it is the victim groups who are increasing their ability to bring state power to bear on their enemies who dare to choose with whom they will associate.

        What you fools fail to understand is that tomorrow it will be you in the crosshairs of some new-kid-on-the-block victim group that wants to force you to do as they please. History is a dominatrix school marm.

      2. Absolutely correct QueerLib…now watch all Republicans who pretend they are Libertarian wail and cry over your post.

        1. No, we would say I’m sorry you feel that way, and leave. Maybe some of us would shake our heads, maybe some would recognize the same non agressive integrity to principles we hold. But I would bet that no Libertarian would sue.

  5. Two gay Sikh bakers walk into a peyote bar in Jesus land.
    The bartender says…

    1. “You may want to get your vision checked, that looked like it hurt.”

    2. “…can you baked fags Singh? We’re looking for a lounge act.”

    3. “this is a joke, right?”

    4. “Why the long beards?”

      1. I missed the part where they rode in on horses.

    5. “Well, I’m sure I could be a movie star/ If I could get out of this place.”

  6. Why Progressives Turned Against Religious Freedom

    They didn’t they turned against the right kind of religious freedom

    1. oops right should be wrong.

    2. Why Progressives Turned Against Religious Freedom.


      1. Spot on fix.

  7. You know who else turned against religious freedom…

    1. The Puritans after they left England for religious freedom?

      1. Stole my answer. The original American Progressives.

    2. Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile?

      1. 7 pints of oil last for only one day! Me think this not miraculous!

        1. Have your gaskets, seals and rings checked…

      2. Also, Judas Maccabeus.

    3. Nero?

      1. Nero?

        +1 Fiddler on the Poof.

    4. Pope Leo X?

    5. Very few?

    6. Theodosius I.

      Constantine recognized religious freedom with the Edict of Milan in the early 4th Century.

      By the end of that century, his successor, Theodosius, decided that religious liberty was not in the interest of his empire, and banned pretty much every religion other that the state’s version of Christianity.

      1. Constantine didn’t actually recognize “religious freedom.” The Edict of Milan was an edict of tolerance limited to Christians only.

  8. I think it has more to do with trying to please the middle class white woman demographic that the Democrat party panders to.

    They like gays, thus everything that might be offensive against gays cannot be tolerated. Nevermind what people thought only a few years ago…I mean, those were the Dark Ages when women were supposed to buy for their own birth control.

  9. Progressives never turned against religious freedom, they never supported it in the first place. The reason they supported the RFBA in the 90s was because it involved a Progressive approved victim group (Indians), the reason they hate it now is because it involves a group they hate (Christians) who don’t want to be forced to serve a group they love (gays).

    If you want to understand how Progressives view the world then divide all 7 billion people on Earth into groups based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc, and then assign victim points to each of these groups, never once look at a person as an individual, or judge them by their actions, only race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc matters with these people.

    They are so obsessed with identity that it influences everything they do, from their love of Obama, to the RFBA, to even their stance against Israel. It all comes down to identity with these people.

    1. I mentioned this in a thread yesterday. We need to be assigned points on the privilege scale, so that we know how awful we are and so that others will know, too. Once properly classified, we can dispense completely with the illusion that individuals or individual actions matter.

      1. And Christians should be made to wear identifying badges.

        You know who else made an oppressor group wear identifying badges?

        1. Every police department in the world?

        2. The Boy Scouts?


          1. Walmart?


        3. Christian is just one factor in the points system. White, male, from the South, affluent, Republican, libertarian. . .there are many ways to get points.

          1. You mean subtract points, right?

            Many of this board would have a negative number.

            1. No, this is a privilege scale. It’s like golf–lower is socially preferred.

              1. But one gets to subtract points by bundling a bunch of contributions to the DNC, or writing for a progressive blog, or running a progressive non-profit.

                1. It’s privilege credits.

        4. You know who else made an oppressor group wear identifying badges?

          Chotchkie’s restaurant?

          1. 15+ Pieces of Flair

          2. That’s only twelve pieces of flair.

          3. Now, you know it’s up to you whether or not you want to just do the bare minimum.

          4. Do you get a bonus if you have a great smile?

        5. Hogwarts?

        6. Primary school teachers?

          1. Fuck, I read it as “oppressed”

        7. *Not* the guy from Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

      2. Rather than a point system, I suggest using the Greek alphabet: alpha, beta, gamma….

        Then we can organize so everyone is comfortable with their like. Perhaps we could even assign jobs based on this system?

        So Susan Rice would be an alpha; Obama would be a beta…..

        1. I recommend assigning groups specific insect costumes.

          Libertarians can irritate the other humans in insect costumes by being huge fly swatters.

          1. “fly swatters”! The only funny one here.

        2. Maybe you can get a reduction in points by demonstrating socially correct thinking and actions.

          1. Probably Pro, but you couldn’t improve your status beyond a certain point.

            For example, an atheistic minority gay who goes through a sex change could never claim the status of a lifelong woman because (s)he would be intruding on a woman’s naturally born “anti-privilege” whereas the sex-changed man is new to the experience.


            “I will not call a male ‘she’; thirty-two years of suffering in this androcentric society, and of surviving, have earned me the title ‘woman’; one walk down the street by a male transvestite, five minutes of his being hassled (which he may enjoy), and then he dares, he dares to think he understands our pain? No, in our mothers’ names and in our own, we must not call him sister.”

            Just in case you thought I fabricated everything.

            1. Holy shit! Somebody actually wrote that? Wow. Got to love it when they start eating their own.

              1. Indeed BardMetal.

                I’ve learned quite a bit trying to debunk some of our fellow commentators here on Reason.

                I thought I should include a link for the quote because what Robyn Morgan said in her keynote speech was so extreme that it seemed like a parody.

                1. Back in the 80s I worked in a state psych hospital and a pt in locked ward asked me the difference between him and me.
                  Only thing could think of was pull keys to the place out of my pocket show him and say keys. We both laughed….
                  Now if that same guy asked me walking down the street I couldn’t show or give him any difference between the keepers and the asylum inmates.

                  No one is laughing anymore…………

              2. Got to love it when they start eating their own.

                It is the inevitable result of progressivism. Best example was Hitler’s ever-expanding definition of who was jewish enough to be deleted.

            2. Perhaps handicaps for the overly privileged?

          2. Or by getting and applying a social grievance degree.

            1. From Columbia?

        3. Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able ?

          Will we have to stick to the color schemes?

        4. No, no no. O is the Alpha AND the Omega, or so his supporters think.

          Kevin R

          (devil quoting scripture)

      3. And then we can make some nice patches with the numbers for everybody to sew onto their clothing, therefore making it easy to see who get to go to the head of the line and who has to wait until all of the more oppressed have been served. That way you don’t even have to figure out if the guy that walked into the store with you is gay or bother comparing skin tones under a bright light to figure out which is paler and therefore less deserving…

        Maybe just skip the whole sewing a patch and just get the number tattooed on everybody’s forehead at age 21, at which point their privilege points are determined for life.

        Think about how much time it will save when doing job interviews, all you’d need do is to rank order everybody by the number on their forehead and hire whomever holds the highest number.

        1. We could also implant small crystals into the palms of our hand, and at the age of 35 have that crystal turn color so we know when we need to travel to the great afterlife.

          Oh, wait. Never mind.

          1. +1 Carousel

          2. Only if I get to go running with a young Jenny Agutter

            1. “Running” eh?

        2. That’s the idea, comrade!

      4. Ah but that is where it will get tricky due to the tribal nature of those that make up the Progressive movement. The feminists will always consider women to be the ultimate victims, while other especially younger Progressives will go with transgenders, because they’re the hip new victim class, other older Progressives wanting to relive the days of the civil rights movement will go with the blacks, etc etc.

        A group based entirely off of identity politics is guaranteed to be divided. The only thing that unites them are their common hatreds for Conservatives, Christians, Whites, Males, Straights, Republicans, and increasingly it seems Libertarians.

        1. The only thing that unites them are their common hatreds for Conservatives, Christians, Whites, Males, Straights, Republicans, and increasingly it seems Libertarians.

          Essentially, the symbolic Bourgeoisie.

          You know who else hated the…oh nevermind.

      5. We need to be assigned points on the privilege scale,

        I thought that’s what the progressive tax code was for.

        Now progressivism’s failure has devolved into upper-middle class whiteys trying to shed privilege points by claiming victimhood or buying what are essentially indulgences via insincere advocacy.

    2. They are so obsessed with identity that it influences everything they do

      Not surprising from a group whose founding planks included support for eugenics.

      1. Apart from a handful of groups, everyone accepted eugenics at the time. Coolidge did, the conservatives on the SCOTUS (with the exception of the Catholic Butler) did.

        1. The Pope was against it at the time, and if even a stupid bleever like him saw it was wrong, what excuse do clever people like Holmes and Sanger have?


    3. It sounds like your the one dividing the world. and your division even sucks not surprisingly.

  10. So apparently the religious and the gays/SJJs are both using the Indiana RFRA “controversy” as an opportunity to self reflect on what liberty is. They’re taking a real a chance to examine one’s own positions on what the individual is and where it fits in “society”. A reexamination of the fundamental right of self-ownership and free association is really undergoing a critical look. And people are really starting to recognize everything starts with themselves as individuals with the autonomy to make rational choices, and the TEAMS and tribes come later, if at all. The whole kerfluffle gives me hope in that it’s a real chance to get back to liberty basics.


    1. Your post had a dream-like quality filled with hope and a wisp of longing.

      1. SJJs?

        Social Justice Jesuits?

        Kevin R

  11. Just take the fucking bill of rights literally and this country won’t fucking need a massive stack of codes literally splitting a million hairs on a plethora of goddamn shit.

    The steady increase in laws has not improved us. It has fostered rancor, irritation, hatred, and violence.

    1. Excellent and to the point!!!!!

    2. +1 four words

  12. This stuff will never be resolved until the Supreme Court provides a legal definition of “religion”.

    *** bites lip ***

      1. Nice, but NSFW.

        1. +1

  13. RFRA’s became controversial because many never thought it would apply to commercial activity, especially by for profit entities. They were thinking religious exercise involved things like more direct religious behavior rather than the everything I do I do through Christ approach.

    1. The left is thoroughly focused on the original civil rights movement, and a big part of that dealt with the hardships blacks faced by commercial discrimination even apart from state mandated discrimination. MLK mentioned blacks being turned away from hotels after wearily traveling in his I Have a Dream speech. The Woolworths that were the target of sit ins discriminated on company policy. So it’s a pretty fundamental plank for them, iconic you might say.

      1. It’s worse than that from their pov because rfra and recent supreme court rulings have been eroding the false distinction between economic (or commercial) rights and ‘civil’ rights that has existed for about a century now and which is essential to the progressive movement.

      2. Because wedding cake is exactly the same as blacks being turned away from hotels.

      3. Something “funny” I just thought of: How in such a short time (much, much shorter for gays than blacks), people went from thinking, how awful they let people like that in here, to, how awful they won’t let people like that in here. But then, maybe in the 1st case it’s “in here”, and in the 2nd case only, “in there”.

      4. The Woolworths that were the target of sit ins discriminated on company policy.

        …for values of company policy that include obeying the local Jim Crow “laws”?

        Granted, what I wish would have happened is for a business owner to take a Jim Crow state to court and claim that the “law” in question violated his property rights under the 5th Amendment to run his business the way he wanted to. I doubt the Warren court
        Kevin R

      5. Woolworths, like most corporations, followed “local custom.” Where there was no Jim Crow “law” the counters were often not segregated or desegregated after a bit of pressure. Had WW defied the local law it would have been courageous and noble, but they could have been sanctioned by the state.

        I would have liked to see a local business pick a fight with the authorities over the owner’s right to defy Jim Crow. Plessy, of Plessy v Ferguson was a passenger on the train. The railroad’s owners should have asserted their 5th amendment right to the free enjoyment of their property. I think a Warren-era SCOTUS would have bought that argument, had Woolworth’s or some other business had made it..

        Kevin R (IANAL)

        1. Sorry, squirrels seem to be tired today. Did too many take off for GF?

          Kevin R

    2. More to the point, they are controverial now because the original intent of the laws are lost. What was the genesis? To protect the practice of religion. Not to protect your relgious feelings from being hurt. It is the latter, however, that seems to be the focus of the current state laws and that is what is troubling.

      1. The idea yhat practice of teligipn can be segregrated out of a person’s dealing with society. We have an increasing tendency for progressives to use law to limit people’s choices in how they interact with each other.

        The gay rights movement is explicitly using the law to impose its ideological/theological contention that marriage is.between two people rather than than two people of complementary sexes. Similarly with the Obamacare contraceptive mandate. The government is attempting to regulate choice in these matters in way they had not before.

    3. RFRA’s became controversial because many never thought it would apply to commercial activity

      Professor Laycock’s amicus brief in the Hobby Lobby case blows that assertion out of the water.

  14. Progressives support religious freedom for all religions except Christianity, because Christians are intolerant oppressors.

    1. Now that I think about it there is even a caveat for that. Progressives are ok with the Christians that believe that Jesus wants them to steal money from other people through taxes and then give it to the poor.

      1. Progressives will happily trot out Leviticus to mock Christians, then in the same breath dig out some quote from the New Testament to say only they are true Christians. No principles at all.

  15. This was inevitable. Once group “access rights” trumped freedom of association and property rights, it was only a matter of time before all freedom has become threatened. As many great libertarians noted, you can not separate economic freedom from the liberties mentioned in the 1st Amendment.

    1. You just explained why the founders put the 2nd amendment in the constitution and why we Americans are so well armed.

  16. There was a black woman on “Watters World” recently lamenting that racism was worse than ever, it was just “hidden.” Without commenting on how one knows about hidden things, it should be advantageous to have public accommodation laws altered so that the bigots, etc. can crawl out from under their rocks so we can identify them and, if we choose, shun, boycott or otherwise disapprove. If I were to, say, enter a lesbian bar and ask for a drink, I’d rather the owner be able to legally throw me out than have to serve me and secretly spit in my drink.

    1. In fairness to the Sapphic Sisterhod, do they actually *want* to turn paying customers out of their bars?

    2. Almost word for word the point I was trying to make at Guardian. But I said they would spit in the batter.

  17. The motivation behind the laws changes, so liberal reaction to them changed. It’s no longer about protecting religious minorities from the free exercise of their beliefs, it’s about politically powerful religious movements trying to oppress a minority group they don’t like.

    1. Right, if by “oppress” you mean “decline to participate in activities they (i.e., the “powerful”) regard as immoral.”

      I’m looking forward eagerly to see how the progs tie themselves up in pretzels the first time the Westboro Baptist Church brings a claim of religious discrimination against a printer who refuses to print up some “God Hates Fags” poster for their next demonstration at a soldier’s funeral.

      1. You don’t get it. Saying “No I will not do business with you” is oppression, while saying “Do business with me or I will sic the government on you” is tolerance.

        Tony supports tolerance if it means government force. Anything that does not involve force is oppression. That’s why liberty is tyranny, while freedom is asking permission and obeying orders.

        1. But the Christian florists, photographers, etc. at issue here *aren’t* saying “No, I will not do business with you.” They’re saying, “I will not participate in what I regard as an immoral parody of marriage. If you want a cake or a photographer for your kid’s birthday party, I’d be happy to provide it.”

          1. I was trying to keep it simple.

      2. The thing is, the Westboro people would already have a claim under federal law while gays wouldn’t, since religion is protected and sexual orientation is not. Again with the strange implication that we’d all hang onto our freedom if we just excluded gays from the protections everyone else gets. Not that a business owner would be in violation for refusing to print such signs. The law is complicated on this issue.

        1. Again with the strange implication that we’d all hang onto our freedom if we just excluded gays from the protections everyone else gets.

          The only one making that implication is the straw man in your head. Idiot.

        2. It would violate New mexico law under New Mexico Supreme Court precedent.

          We agree that when a law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation religion, that
          law similarly protects conduct that is inextricably tied to sexual orientation religion

          Holding “God Hates Fags” posters is inextricably tied to the beliefs of the Westboro Baptist Church, so refusing to make those signas due to disagreement with their beliefs…

        3. So you think the Westboro Baptist Church *should* win that suit? Just so you can force Christian bakers to provide wedding cakes for SSM wedding receptions? Wow, you’re even more committed to tyranny than I suspected.

          1. Wow, you’re even more committed to tyranny than I suspected.

            You have no idea.

            1. From Tony, we have had years of comments.

          2. Tony is incapable of logic or reason, which means he cannot comprehend arguments based upon principle. That’s why he always falls back to saying libertarians like this and don’t like that, because that’s all his feeble mind can comprehend. He is literally incapable of understanding that which he so adamantly argues against.

    2. Tony, do liberals who love to throw out the islamaphobe label as well as bigot label call muslims or view them as bigots for their views on gays?

      Or does that not count since they are part of the liberal victim class?

      1. Yes they are bigots, but again, it’s not about people’s feelings, it’s about who is empowered to harm gay people’s way of life in this society. And that’s not Muslims, it’s Christians.

        1. It’s all about feelings. The feelings of gays who cry and weep and moan like a child who doesn’t get a lollypop when a Christian baker says “No, I do not want to cater your wedding because it goes against my religious convictions. Try the guy down the street.”

          1. Unlike the stony masculine whining of Christians who might have to behave like decent human beings.

            1. The difference is that one of these scenarios involves force while the other does not. I’ll give you a clue as to which one involves force: it’s not the one where someone says “No.”

            2. And by “behave like decent human beings” you mean “bullied into doing something that goes against their beliefs because people like you feel that forcing people to do things against their will is good and moral as long as you don’t like the person.”

              1. If it goes against your beliefs that I’m entitled to all the same rights you are, then your beliefs do not deserve government recognition.

                1. You keep using that word…

                2. A cake with two grooms isn’t a right, and they weren’t discriminated against. ANYONE would have been denied that cake because it wasn’t on the menu.

        2. Are you saying muslims can’t be florists or cake bakers that can turn down gay weddings?

          1. Forget it, Frank. Its Tonytown. Logic, consistency, principles need not apply.

          2. I certainly wouldn’t support any law that made such a distinction.

        3. Soave has a post about a pizzeria in Indiana that refuses to cater gay weddings. Are you going to tell me with a straight face that gay people are being harmed here, or that these Christians are empowered to do so?

        4. Yeah Muslims just throw gays off the roof tops , cut their heads off, or commit honor killings against their daughters for dating a Christian,…..that’s ok by you lefty girly boys.

          1. The above comment by jaxpsych is meant for Tony boy.

          2. The above comment by jaxpsych is meant for Tony boy.

  18. wedding cake wedding cake bakers moan
    bake me a cake with a felching tone
    sue you and screw you and smear you in the press
    and put you in the gulag until you confess

  19. Reality Rules

    Libertarians have a problem. The consequence of moral anarchy tends to be moral tyranny.

    Theologically, the Judeo-Christian Bible in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 is specific and explicit … homosexuality is an abomination punishable by death. The Mohammedans agree and act accordingly. Even many not religiously inclined regard homosexuality as a revolting perversion.

    For thousands of years, the world, including the ancient Greeks, never accepted homosexuality as a normal lifestyle. All of a sudden, since the scare abated concerning the HIV being spread by mosquitos, opposition to homosexuality not only is dwindling but is being considered as a mental illness, so-called homophobia.

    Lost in the noise of what many consider a collapsing, American society and a collapsing, Western civilization is a single question. Could the opponents of legitimized, open homosexuality be right? Is there not only a theological but a scientific validity to their opposition?

    In the span of only a few years, less than 3% of the population, a minority historically considered an abomination to God and to society, have captured the minds of the media and spawned a sociological tsunami. Homosexuality has blossomed as normal masculinity has withered, the latter a true victim of the War Against Men (See “True Grit” at . . . ) .

    How did it happen? What will be the consequences? Ultimately, reality not ideology rules.

    1. You’re a revolting perversion and your god is an asshole.

    2. “collapsing, Western civilization”

      Speak for yourself. I’m super happy to live in the 21st century, and I see a world where there’s more economic, political and personal freedom opportunities than any time in human history.

      Technology is delivering longer, higher quality lives to billions of people while reducing the cost of living. It’s also giving everyday people the ability to become independent businesspeople and entrepreneurs of all types.

      Sure, the God Squad is pissed off that they don’t run the world anymore and that their efforts to use state power to compel others to their perspective continue to fail, but oh well. You guys are irrelevant, unable to embrace the future, unable to generate significant economic or cultural value, and worth far less than you seem to think you are.

      You can continue to fulminate against Deh Geyhz while popping out kids and saying that entitles you to welfare benefits from Deh Geyhz’s paychecks, but that’s not going to go so well for you. Especially considering how many of your own kids are queer.

      Another ten years from now, and y’all will be a curious footnote in history, along with George Wallace.

  20. Suppose a homosexual photographer in New Mexico is vehemently opposed to the Roman Catholic faith because of its teachings on homosexuality. Nevertheless, he has accepted work from Catholic clients who hired him to film birthday and graduation parties.
    One day, a Catholic offers to hire him to film a baptism and he refuses, on the basis that unlike birthday parties, baptisms directly support the Catholic faith and he can not provide such direct support to a ceremony based on a faith that he opposes.
    Is this a violation of the New Mexico’s Human Rights Act’s prohibition against religious discrimination?
    Answer correctly, and you will know why and how the RFRA would apply.

    1. Of course it would be. In Indiana, it would be as well.

      “RFRA” is just an effort to create a two-tiered legal system, where religious believers have privileged status under non-discrimination statutes, as well as a privileged (and unique) ability to nullify those statutes on a flimsy pretense.

      If religious conservatives were truly concerned about freedom of affiliation, they’d have pushed to repeal non-discrimination laws and establish an absolute right to free association in all areas.

      But then they wouldn’t be able to use the law to give themselves special privileges and attack people they don’t like.

      The sad thing is that so many “libertarians” have lived in the GOP for so long that they’re completely blind to the obviousness of this situation.

      1. Well, technically we already have one, since the materialist modern religions have managed to exempt themselves from establishment clause restrictions by pretending they aren’t actually religions.

        As though the social problem people were worried about in drafting the establishment clause was belief in the supernatural, and not the massive social unrest that would ensue when applying Highlander logic to matters of conscience in a pluralistic populace. You know, such as we are seeing right here.

        1. “materialist modern religions have managed to exempt themselves from establishment clause restrictions”

          No offense, but that’s a gigantic mouthful of postmodern gobbledygook.

          “not the massive social unrest that would ensue when applying Highlander logic to matters of conscience”

          That’s already been done. This law does nothing to undo that — it simply states that people who have a particular illogical mystical belief both receive special privileges forcing other businesses and individuals to do business with them against their own consciences, as well as full exemption from being forced themselves.

  21. Here is what you just cannot get over, Jacob. There isn’t some conspiracy afoot here, nor some kind of ginned up media controversy. In fact, the whole thing has been a grassroots protest, that seemed to have started randomly, and from businesses to boot. Suddenly, businesses and non-profits have decided to voice their opinion that they don’t like government suggesting that some of their customers are potentially of less value than others. And they don’t want government suggesting that some employed in the business can make that decision as to who will be served on their own. You love grassroots protests when it is about guns, this one I guess just doesn’t meet that standard.

    You say there is a bipartisan respect for religion. Maybe so. You know what now has even greater bipartisan respect? Equal treatment in society for anyone no matter their sexual orientation. And that is now clear. Republican Mayor of Indianapolis could not have made that clearer. Good for him. Shame on you.

  22. Basically the “wrong” religions started to take the idea of protection seriously…

    1. Principals, not principles.

  23. They turned against RFRA because the Iron Laws bit them in the ass:

    Me today, you tomorrow.

    Its no more complicated than that.

  24. A [PRIVATE] business should be able to choose who to do business with and NOT do business with, for any reason at anytime. Government cannot discriminate, but private citizens can, doesn’t meant they should, but they should have the right. No one should ever be [FORCED] to do anything against their will. I stand up for the baker that denies services for a gay wedding and I stand up for the gay owner of a sign company that denies religious groups like the westboro baptist church from their services.

    We have been so far removed from freedom slowly in this country, that we are now [FORCED] to comply with the very decrees we fought to runaway from. Time to make stand and let those who wish to discriminate for any reason, meet market forces.

    1. That is EXACTLY what is happening right here. Sadly, you just don’t like it that businesses like Eli Lily, WalMart, and so many others are suggesting that business in Indiana might just not be worth it anymore if their government doesn’t get out of their face about their own customers.

    2. Exactly, and from a realpolitic perspective, the economic war is already won.

      It’s also clear the RFRA people don’t value true free association rights, because they chose to preserve all elements of non-discrimination statutes that provide special privileges for religious believers. The entire point of RFRA was “free association for me, but not for thee.”

  25. My ex-wife makes $75 every hour on the laptop . She has been laid off for seven months but last month her pay check was $18875 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    Look At This. ????

  26. Why should religious people — and only religious people — get a specially-recognized absolute right to free association, while everyone else continues to be governed by detailed regulations that revoke their own rights?

    Freedom of religion is not, and should not receive, elevated status over any other basic right of belief, non-belief, affiliation or non-affiliation.

    RFRA is simply an effort by the usual suspects in the God Squad to create a multi-tiered legal system that puts them at a legal advantage — both in terms of special privileges like “non-discrimination” laws that are afforded to them, as well as exemptions from those laws for people they don’t like.

    It’s statism.

    1. Most everyone is religious. The word religion means to rebind or reconnect with one’s highest beliefs or values. Religion has to do with living and acting according to one’s beliefs or values. Only hypocrites fail to live accordingly.

      1. People are seriously starting to go down the path of “let’s choose definition tier four in Webster’s” as a form of argumentation now. Truly sad.

    2. So you agree with Justice Scalia’s opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, which held that the first amendment doesn’t give any exemption on religious grounds from laws of general application?

      1. I haven’t examined that position in detail, and I don’t have time to.

        In general, I find a lot of SCOTUS decisions to be rather hackneyed. I’d prefer to argue from a place of empirical observation rather than the opinions of appointed lifers on the bench.

        1. Good point!!!! Well put!!!!

  27. Of course Freedom of Association and Freedom of Contract allow for anyone to refuse to enter into a personal or business relationship with anyone they don’t care to do so. Libertarians should be supporting the full representation of these principles across the board. Yes this includes race, too. Either a right is absolute or it isn’t a right.

    It’s grotesquely ironic, though unsurprising, that leftists threaten to not do business in a state in protest of that state upholding the right of individuals to not do business against their will.

    1. In fact it doesn’t. If you open doors for business, you are not allowed to exclude people according to race. And there isn’t a liberal out there that thinks Freedom of Contract would trump that. That so far may not also apply to sexual orientation, sadly, but that is surely changing. And you know who is now at the forefront of making that change happen? Business.

    2. “that state upholding the right of individuals to not do business against their will”

      Which state is that? Surely not Indiana.

      If you announce that you’re going to refuse to serve any business owner who cited the religion clause in your own business, guess what? You just violated Indiana state nondiscrimination law against religious discrimination, and you’re going to be sued and fined.

  28. So, now the Governor of Arkansas is listening to businesses (who knew that was a bad concept at Reason), and refuses to sign the Arkansas law. Here was one quote:

    “Hutchinson said at a press conference that he was seeking changes to make Arkansas’ legislation mirror the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1993.”

    Even the Governor of Arkansas recognizes that these laws in Arkansas and Indiana are NOT essentially the same as the federal law, even if you think differently, Jacob. And they aren’t the same. “Similar” isn’t going to make it, at least if one values the input from business.

    1. No, he recognizes that the angry digital mob heading his way is not concerned with facts or reason, but feels this might appease them. It’s foolish, of course.

      1. Leave the Family Research Council out of this, please. While I’m sure the governor is worried about them, they’re not entirely relevant.

  29. So Reason supports a law that allows one group to discriminate against another group. wow, Libertarianism is really fucked up–the Republicans really need to go rejoin their party–you assholes are not Libertarians. By the way the relevant difference between this and other RFPA’s is that Indianas: defines religious institutions, businesses and associations as persons. Also it makes that “free exercise” right a “defense against a private lawsuit by another person, not simply against actions by government.

    1. So, Progressives support a law that allows a person to have everything they own taken from them for skipping a party. Wow, Progressivism is really fucked up.

  30. People should not be forced to serve anyone they choose not to serve.


  31. The article is basically wrong as to left against right using religious freedom laws as cover for conservative agenda or whatever. Really doesn’t matter.
    Conservative/republican overthinking or lack of thinking and plain old cowardice is the real problem.
    The left just found something they can use to stir up their base to create support via noisy controversy knowing the republicans would back down and/or handle the issue poorly, as usual.
    The republicans tripped all over themselves to hand the left another win based on nothing but empty rhetoric by the left, again as usual.
    When will the republicans ever learn???
    They ran me out of the party with their chronic rigid lack of thinking/ foolishness.

  32. I don’t usually agree with any discrimination but this gay rights issue went from being known to the population as a perversion to normal behavior in a short period of time and homosexual behavior is repulsive to a lot lot of people. Suppose you are a photographer and you are forced to accept a gig for a gay wedding and while filming you get physically sick from watching men making out? Should we really be forced to accommodate everyone always?

  33. Indiana RFRA is controversial because the sponsors and proponents have a long history of anti-Gay animus.

    Pence was caught pants-on-fire by the Internet WayBack machine which identified, dating back to his first run for Congress, his opposition to letting Gays and Lesbian serve in the military; HIV prevention funding which doesn’t advocate sexual orientation change, and non-recognition of relationships.

  34. Since when was ordering a wedding cake a “right”? The couple weren’t discriminated against because they were gay…EVERYONE would have been denied a cake with two grooms, because it wasn’t on the menu.

  35. Thing is that discrimination is essential to a free market. No one is entitled to be accepted, anymore than any behavior is. All this does is to discourage responsibility, which must be incompatible with the reason for marriage in the first place. I’d advise govt to get out of the marriage business.

  36. “Progressives who used to defend religious freedom have turned against it because they see it as a cover for conservative causes.”

    …. took you a while to figure That Out, didn’t it?

    So, show me ANY ‘anti-abortion’ position that is based on actual scientific findings and not ‘consensus and opinion or religion.’

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