Friday, March 7, 2014

Will Our Courts Allow Discrimination For Some?

Last year in New Mexico, a court found that a photographer and her business-partner husband violated the civil rights of a lesbian couple by refusing to photograph their same-sex marriage, saying their religious beliefs disagreed with same-sex marriage. The case, which is pending appeal, basically told business owners they could not refuse service to someone based on sexual orientation regardless of their stated reason which, in this case, was based on their Biblical beliefs.

Interestingly, a year earlier in New Mexico, a gay hairdresser refused services to Susana Martinez, the Republican Governor, because she opposes same sex marriage. Antonio Darden, an openly gay man who had been doing the governor's hair, apparently decided that he was violating his own moral beliefs and could no longer cut the governor's hair "as long as she holds her traditional views on marriage."

“The governor’s aides called not too long ago, wanting another appointment to come in,” Darden told KOB-TV. “Because of her stances and her views on this, I told her aides no. They called the next day, asking if I’d changed my mind about taking the governor in and I said no.”

This incident happened in 2012 but it illustrates the complete hypocrisy of many on the left who side with Darden. Apparently they believe his moral beliefs are OK and defensible while people who oppose those beliefs for moral reasons of their own are not. It seems morality, right and wrong are being defined today by the left and it is no longer a two-way street. Even in our courts.

So what did Governor Martinez do about it? She could have sued Mr. Darden for discrimination and, based on the court case of the photographer, she should have been victorious. But I doubt she would have won. Most likely the same judge who decided the photography case would have found for the hairdresser - because being gay in the USA today seems to carry more rights than the religious freedoms guaranteed in writing by our Constitution.

Of course, Governor Martinez wasn't going to sue. The negative publicity would not have been good for her. And my point is not about being gay or one side being more moral than the other - it's about whether or not a business owner has the right to refuse service to someone and if not - shouldn't that be equal regardless of where you stand on an issue? Can it be in this great nation that one group can discriminate based on their own moral values but another group who disagrees with them cannot? Where is justice when a court blatantly allows one group to discriminate but not another?

If I was gay and I wanted a wedding cake made for me and my partner, or wanted a photographer for my same-sex marriage, and I discovered the shop I chose did not want to do it because they disagreed with my lifestyle based on their own Christian or moral beliefs, the last thing I would want to do is have a court force them to do it against their will (as in the case in Colorado.) I would like to think I would say "Then I'll take my business and my money elsewhere," and walk away. But that's me.

Likewise, if I was refused service by an establishment because of my conservative views on marriage and/or relationships I would move on from there as well. I'm not about drama and I'm certainly going to be somewhat concerned about any service I might get from someone who is being forced to provide it.

I would like to see the judge who decided the photographer's case make it public that the hairdresser's actions were also a violation of civil rights. But that won't happen because Governor Martinez didn't make a big deal out of it. She moved on. And rightly so.

This issue is going to get ugly before it's resolved, I fear. There will be cases that test the court's wisdom when it comes to LGBT issues versus religious issues, particularly when the LGBT community comes up against the Islamic community, who also believes homosexuality is wrong. That, I think, will be the case that renders a final decision on the matter. It will be interesting to say the least.

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