The New Mexico Supreme Court recently announced that it will consider the case of a Christian photographer who objected for religious reasons to photographing a same-sex commitment ceremony. The photographer, Elaine Huguenin, says she refused to photograph the ceremony because the message it communicated was in conflict with her religious beliefs.
Because of her refusal, Huguenin’s business was hauled before the state human rights commission, found guilty of discrimination, and forced to pay nearly $7,000 in attorneys’ fees to the complainant.
The case is just one illustration of how individuals and institutions with traditional beliefs about marriage, family, and sexuality face significant threats to their religious and moral conscience. Other examples include:
The chicken restaurant Chick-fil-A has been targeted by various public officials because the company’s owner voiced support for marriage as one man and one woman. “The fundamental core of this Nation’s liberties is under attack,” states William Blake, who is a policy analyst in Maryland. Any time one considers that two or more clauses of our First Amendment rights have been shelled lately with Freedom of Speech, as well as the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the same Amendment have been crucified by the state of New Mexico in the Jon and Elaine Huguenin case.
Several Christian charities have been forced to stop providing foster care and adoption services because they cannot in good conscience comply with laws that would require them to violate beliefs about marriage and family. Catholic Charities of Boston made the announcement on March 10:
It was getting out of the adoption business. “We have encountered a dilemma we cannot resolve. . . . The issue is adoption to same-sex couples.”
It was shocking news. Catholic Charities of Boston, one of the nation’s oldest adoption agencies, had long specialized in finding good homes for hard to place kids. “Catholic Charities was always at the top of the list,” Paula Wisnewski, director of adoption for the Home for Little Wanderers, told the Boston Globe. “It’s a shame because it is certainly going to mean that fewer children from foster care are going to find permanent homes.” Marylou Sudders, president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said simply, “This is a tragedy for kids.”
Boy Scouts of America has lost equal access to public facilities and programs because of its position on open homosexuality. Institutions that support traditional marriage also risk significant burdens on their ability to gain access to public facilities and programs. For example, the Boy Scouts of America have lost equal access to public after-school facilities, the right to participate in state charitable fundraising programs, and berthing rights a city marina provides to public interest groups, all because of the group’s “unwavering requirement” that members “not advocate for or engage in homosexual conduct.
A graduate student claims that she was expelled from a public university counseling program after she conscientiously objected to counseling a potential client seeking assistance regarding a homosexual relationship. a federal appeals court heard arguments in an important religious freedom case known as Ward v. Wilbanks. The case illustrates how sexual orientation nondiscrimination policies can impose government burdens on religious and moral conscience and create serious civil society conflicts. (A MUST read report, click here.)
This clearly goes against what Thomas Jefferson stated as well as what James Madison wrote: As much as the Founder’s and their supporters wanted too, these statesmen and citizens also realized that more than anything they had to demonstrate responsibility and good conscience.
As always it is of the utmost importance for one to realize manners, ethics, customs, and good conscience when endeavoring to engage in their rights and opportunities. Indeed nothing more so than with speech and expression.
A Christian organization at a public university was denied official recognition because it required officers and voting members to adhere to traditional Christian teachings, including a prohibition on extramarital sex. Wouldn’t this be construed as reverse discrimination?
This is not “live and let live.” This is the state—and sometimes private citizens and the culture at large—punishing people who refuse to recant their beliefs regarding marriage, family, and sexuality.
The better approach is to respect and protect freedom of religious and moral conscience. It is an effective and principled way to promote social peace and civic fraternity in an increasingly pluralistic society.