Indiana officials embattled over law allowing a religious right to refuse service to gays

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More than 2,000 people gathered at the Indiana State Capital Saturday (March 28) to protest Indiana's newly signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act saying it would promote discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation.  Photo by Nate Chute, courtesy of Reuters

More than 2,000 people gathered at the Indiana State Capital Saturday (March 28) to protest Indiana's newly signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act saying it would promote discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation. Photo by Nate Chute, courtesy of Reuters

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While lawmakers debate changes in the law, The Indianapolis Star published a page one editorial in huge type, headlined "FIX THIS NOW."

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  • Anton

    The law is poorly conceived and written, and the optics are horrible. Hopefully, the public response will help Indiana’s lawmakers understand how insular they are. I do not think many of them intended to offend. Although, I am sure that conservative politics swayed the behavior of some. I just think they are utterly clueless and out of touch with what a majority of their constituents believe, especially their views on morality and what constitutes moral or immoral behavior. They seem to falsely equate morality with indoctrination and strict training and they did not anticipate that many people would view *their* actions as immoral. Now that their own morality is being challenged, perhaps they will see the light. Although, I do not intend to hold my breath waiting for that.

  • Doc Anthony

    Originally I asked a poster a question in another thread, but NOW it’s clear that the question needs to be asked across the board — maybe across the nation.

    Certainly it needs to be asked of the Gay Gestapo ally “Indianapolis Star” and other media, as well as some Big-Time Sports People. And most of all, let’s ask it of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) — the Gay Gestapo’s latest partners in economic blackmail. So let’s ask:

    Does a Jewish baker have the right, the religious freedom or right, to REFUSE a direct request from his or her Aryan Club customers to specifically bake them a SWASTIKA cake, (a specific item that is in clear opposition to the Jewish baker’s religion)?

    Or should that Jewish baker be forced by the government, under threat of “discrimination”, to bake the Aryans that cake and thereby help them affirm and celebrate their position?

    All responses welcome, (let us hope!), so please offer your considered answers.

  • Jon

    For over 150 years, “Religious Freedom” has been what Christians call it when they use their Christianity as a reason to discriminate. Its the same as “whites only” diners “Christian only” restaurants, the KKK, and so on. It’s clear from Genesis 9 and other verses that this is what many Bibles command. Why is anyone surprised when it happens again? As long as some people see their Bible as the literal word of a supernatural person, this will happen again and again. As with the previous cases, I’m glad to see that equality is winning here. Hopefully the Christians who see their Bible literally can get past that and join the Christians and non-Christians who want a world that includes everyone.

  • Jon

    Doc – if the baker advertises “custom cakes in any design”, then yes. The baker is a baker. Bakers make cakes.

  • Larry

    Doc, you have had the answer to the question numerous times. You just ignore it. Pretend people said something different and repeat.

    Does Christ compel you to be so dishonest?

  • Larry

    If Pence didn’t want the law to be misconstrued as a license to discriminate, yet he had plenty of opportunities to ensure it wouldn’t be. He didn’t. Pence is a liar.

    The only reason people support this law is they want a license to discriminate. They want cheap excuses to avoid the necessity of providing equal protection under the law that the 14th Amendment demands of states.

  • Doc Anthony.

    Okay, thanks for that reply Jon. But that raises the question: What if the Jewish bakery doesn’t say “custom cakes in any design”? I see several Jewish bakeries (from Google) that simply don’t say one way or another.

    So if Jewish bakeries do NOT specify “custom cakes in any design”, do they then have the right, the religious freedom, to say “No” to a specific request from the local Aryan Club customers to bake a Swastika Cake?

  • Atheist Zax

    Can you go to a Muslim baker and ask them to draw a picture of Mohammad on the cake?

    The answer is that the Muslim baker can refuse to accept this baking order from this atheist, as it violates the conscience of the Muslim baker.

  • Larry

    If the baker can’t cough up excuses like:
    “I’m all booked up”
    “I can’t physically perform that one”
    “I will bake the parts and you can put it together” (like the one in Colorado)
    “Our delivery trucks don’t go there”.

    If the sole response is , “I don’t serve your kind”, they deserve whatever consequences may happen. Let the Nazis sue and see what happens.

    There is no need to update laws based on fictional hypotheticals. Especially if the purpose is to create a real, constant and recognized harm to the public.

    I guess you have no problem with “separate but equal” businesses. They were such a good thing for black communities back in the day. No white people had to worry about breaking their deeply held Christian belief that someone like you was their social inferior and did not deserve their business.

  • Garson Abuita

    No. The law does not require a merchant to create a specific message for any given customer. The baker-florist cases had nothing to do with such speech. Rather, they involved flat refusals to give a gay customer the same service offered to straight customers.

  • Doc Anthony.

    Well Larry, yes I am interested in YOUR answer to this question.

    In fact, unlike Jon, you apparently don’t even allow for the slightest “IF” clause, the slightest wiggle room, for ANY Jewish bakers. You specifically said in another thread, “If its a regular cake, like the ones sold in the store to the general public, then you don’t have a choice.”

    That would strongly imply that you want those Jewish bakers to be FORCED by the gov’t to bake Swastika cakes. No religious freedoms. But I’m looking for specific Yes or No straight answers at this time, no guessing, no “implieds”, no assuming. Clear answers please.

    I notice that you still didn’t answer this same question from me in the other thread, **March 31 2015 10:00 am**, so let me ask you the same direct question now. Put a straight “Yes” or “No” on it with no ducking. If you give an explanation, I welcome it, but first say the straight Yes or the straignht No. Wanna give it a go Larry?

  • Larry

    “Can you go to a Muslim baker and ask them to draw a picture of Mohammad on the cake?”

    Depends on whether the baker does pictures on cakes.
    Depends on whether the Muslim baker is intelligent to cough up better excuses than, “Allah tells me not to serve you”.

    The sole purpose of this legalized discrimination law is so Christians can act like total uncivil d-bags to people in their business with impunity. People too stupid to find excuses besides insulting and demeaning the customer. Laws should not be there to protect stupid, uncivil and harmful behavior.

  • Larry

    Doc, you asked the same question on 2 other articles. Your answers are there. I am tired of repeating myself to dishonest morons. Your question was stupid and omits material facts necessary to answer it. I know it sounds intelligent and compelling in your head, but it isn’t.

    You can continue to worry about the rights of Nazis and Klansmen while I continue writing about civil liberties and business segregation.

    I guess “separate but equal” for businesses are OK for you. After all they worked so fine for blacks under Jim Crow. No white people ever had to compromise their Christian belief that you were their social inferior and unworthy of their goods and services. Black people could have always gone to those other shops, restaurants or lived in their own neighborhoods.

  • Atheist Zax

    Along the same lines, can you go to a Muslim photographer and ask them to print the picture of Mohammad?

    The Muslim photographer has every right to turn down this atheist offer to do business, as this violates the Muslim photographer’s conscience.

  • Larry

    Is Mohammed a living person who can be photographed?

    I am sure there are plenty of Muslims who would be overjoyed to hear this!
    I am pretty sure they would revise their rules on the subject (which are not universal to the faith anyway) if that were the case.

    Why does support for this law require people to ask such stupid questions?

    Oh right, because they need to sound almost reasonable when they talk about giving a license to discriminate on the basis of their personal bigotry. I guess the next questions will have to deal with why “separate but equal” is such a bad thing for the public.

  • opheliart

    I don’t know, Larry … Atheist Zax (chuckling at the name) has brought up an interesting paradigm. A Christian goes to the Muslim baker and asks for a cake celebrating Jesus as ‘the’ Prophet, SON OF GOD … the Christian does not ask for any specifics, but does inform the baker what the cake is for.

    Any issues?

  • Atheist Zax

    Calm down, drama queen, answer the question. It’s a simple, Yes or No answer. Your evasive answers doesn’t help your case.

  • Doc Anthony.

    Larry wrote, “If the sole response is , “I don’t serve your kind”, they deserve whatever consequences may happen.”

    Okay, so like with Jon, there appears to be one or more of what Larry is calling “excuses”, by which the Jewish baker DOES have the right, the religious freedom, to say no.

    The phrase “I don’t serve your kind” obviously doesn’t qualify, but that still leaves the OTHER phrases that Larry mentioned as being (apparently) worthy of protecting the Jewish Baker’s religious freedoms instead of the government forcing the Jewish baker to kowtow.

    But again, Larry makes it sound like somebody is being “harmed” if the Jewish baker doesn’t pony up that Swastika cake. The poor little Aryans are being mistreated exactly like Jim-Crow-era blacks, if that Jewish baker says “No” to violating and opposing his or her own religious belief, Larry implies.

    Sheesh. Again.

  • opheliart

    I would like to see how the government shifts gears on that one.

    And again … government officials (of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA) are going on about how THEY don’t discriminate in their states like Indiana is willing to discriminate, and yet there are all those Religious Establishments in their cities and towns that refuse women vocational positions. Even Pope Fran said his position (as pope) is an Institution. So, what’s up with this? This is blatant hypocrisy from where we sit …

  • Doc Anthony.

    “It depends” Larry says. “Depends.” Again Larry acknowledges the reality of possible “excuses” (his term) by which, presumably, the Equal Protection clause is NOT violated by the baker. doing the refusal.

    So if “it depends”, then that means that a refusal is NOT AUTOMATICALLY “discrimination” and the government should NOT automatically force the baker to make the requested cake.

  • Larry

    Laws should not be set up to protect the stupid from themselves, as you would have them do. Doc, religious expression is not discriminating in business. Discrimination in business is not an act worthy of protection under the law.

    You feel the need to alter facts to make your hypothetical sound reasonable. You feel the need to misrepresent answers. Your question was stupid by its nature. You are a lying sack of crap Doc.

    People are harmed when you deny business for purely prejudicial reasons. Like saying, “we don’t serve your kind here”. Please do keep up.

    You are harmed when a store owner says, “we don’t serve blacks here”. So why would it be different for other groups? Oh right, because you are a lying hypocrite.

    Peddle your KKKnazicakes elsewhere. I hear conservative Christians love things associated with the Klan. That includes legal arguments.

  • ben in oakland

    Yes, doc, they must provide it– IF AND ONLY IF:

    they make swastika cakes, and are willing to sell them to everyone who asks for it. Excepting, of course, to the only people who WOULD ask for a swastika cake– Nazis.

    You are, of course, with your usual mendacity, changing the subject TO the product being sold, and AWAY from to the people they will sell it to, which is the actual issue. A wedding cake is a wedding cake, no matter whether it is gay people or straight people getting married. If you can describe the “other” difference, we can have a discussion

    A Jewish baker probably does not make swastika cakes, and it is extremely unlikely that Nazi’s would patronize a Jewish baker.

  • Larry

    I am sure plenty of Muslim bakers print cakes with pictures of Jesus on them.Business is business. Its not their religion and why PO the customers. The expression of a faith other than one’s own is not a legitimate offense of religious belief. The presence of a Muslim does not constitute a legitimate offense to a Christian.

    Again, if a business owner can’t cough up an excuse to refuse business besides, “my religion says I don’t have to treat you like a reasonable customer”, they deserve whatever consequences of their actions. Uncivil stupidity need not be rewarded under color of law.

  • Larry

    Up yours. Stupid questions lacking material details don’t get simple answers. Sorry, but your script is overworn and badly written.

    Please tell me why, “As a Christian, I can’t serve your kind” is a legitimate excuse to deny goods and services to people.

    How is it any difference from saying, “As a Christian Identity adherent, the management has the right to refuse all patrons who are black”?

    It isn’t. You want an excuse to discriminate in business. You are of low moral character.

  • Jaden

    Use your imagination 😉
    That poster seems to saying that muslims are exempt and they should be given a free reign in the exercise of their conscience by using “imaginative excuses”.

    No muslim would dare draw a picture of mohammad.

  • Larry

    Nobody is exempt.

    Its more like, “good luck trying to prove I was discriminating”. The same defense that works even with explicit anti-discrimination laws and no RFRA in the picture.

    We need legalized excuses to discriminate like holes in the head. Its just protection for the stupid.

  • Jim

    No, this is not discrimination IF the photographer refuses to print a picture of Mohammed for everybody. It only becomes discrimination if the photographer selectively decides who he will print the photo for. A t-shirt screener can refuse to print an obscene message on a t-shirt because he doesn’t agree with the content. Again, he can’t selectively decide who he prints for. The problem for the baker is that he DOES bake wedding cakes. If he selectively chooses who he’s baking for, he is discriminating when he decides that he won’t bake a cake for a gay couple when he will happily do it for a straight couple. The baker suffers no harm from delivering or having a wedding cake delivered to a wedding. The baker is NOT endorsing the wedding by making a cake, he is simply providing some of the festivities.

  • Doc Anthony

    First, thanks to Ben, along with the others, for responding.

    I have to say at the outset, that Ben, like the others, has introduced another “IF” condition. (“IF AND ONLY IF”, in fact.)

    Another “it depends” (Larry’s phrase) situation. But what if the Jewish baker hasn’t said or done that specific “IF” condition?

    Check this condition out. “IF AND ONLY IF — they make swastika cakes, and are willing to sell them to everyone who asks for it.”

    Okay, I get that. Understood. But I also can see the huge question raised by that very statement. Specifically, there’s no difference between Ben’s statement and the statement “IF AND ONLY IF — the bakers make visibly-gay-marriage-affirming cakes, and also are willing to sell THEM to everyone who asks for it.”

    All I’d have to tell the customer as a baker is, “We DON’T make that kind of cake — but if I ever do, I promise to sell them to ALL customers who ask for that kind of cake.”

  • Cranmer

    Your comparison of gay rights activists and allies to a ‘gestapo’ is really vile and hateful. This absurd scenario is disgusting and absolutely ridiculous.

  • Smith Co

    That raises a good point. What is the big deal in printing a picture of Mohammed? Why does a Muslim refuse to print a portrait of Mohammed? Because the hadith forbids a Muslim from doing so. To go against the Koran will violate his or her conscience. The muslim is exercising his religious freedom of conscience and he/she should have that freedom to practice his/her religion.

  • Larry

    You know what? Your fictional hypothetical situations are bullcrap.

    There are plenty of ways to refuse business one considers unreasonable without resorting to discriminatory conduct. A point missed by lying bigoted sacks of crap like Doc and ilk.

    At no point is discriminatory conduct considered a legitimate expression of religious belief. Your right to religious expression ends where you are trying to harm others. Discrimination is an uncivil and malicious act of harm. Nobody discriminates by accident or for reasons which are even close to acceptable.

    So your “well intentioned discriminator” only exists in the mind of people looking for publicly plausible excuses for the malicious bigot.

    So take your Muslim photographers, Nazi cake lovers and gay T-shirt printers stick them somewhere painful. Its all just excuses to hang up signs in your business, “No gays allowed”.

  • Larry

    “Indiana’s Klan organization reached its peak of power in the following years, when it had 250,000 members, an estimated 30% of native-born white men. By 1925 over half the elected members of the Indiana General Assembly, the Governor of Indiana, and many other high-ranking officials in local and state government were members of the Klan. Politicians had also learned they needed Klan endorsement to win office.”

    Being discriminatory douchenozzles appears to be in the genetic makeup of the state. Governor Pence appears to be paying homage to his predecessors long past.

  • Stephanie walser

    “Peddle your KKKnazicakes elsewhere. I hear conservative Christians love things associated with the Klan. That includes legal arguments.” Larry I’m pretty sure according to history the KKK was comprised of all democrats….hmmmm

  • Ben in oakland

    Mendacious as usual.

    A wedding cake is a wedding cake. Having been to over 1000– yes, 1000–weddings in the course of my career as a premier wedding photographer., I can assure you of that.

  • Ben in oakland

    But it’s ALL doc.

  • Ben in oakland

    But it’s all doc.

  • Ben in oakland

    Pence has a long history of being antigay. It’so all findable within a few clicks. Like. Most of his type, however, he doesn’t want to be called a bigot.

  • Wands

    Well said!!

  • Larry

    BB, insults from you means I am doing something right. I would be ashamed to agree with you on a position.

  • Larry

    But they all became Republicans after 1964. It was called the Southern Strategy.
    Them Dixiecrats opposed the Civil Rights Act so vociferously they jumped ship to the GOP. Modern christian conservatives are their descendants. Bigots back then, bigots still.

  • Luke Montgomery

    I was hoping that anyone who agrees with this law could show me where in the Christian religion it specifically says “DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH HOMOSEXUALS”? I know the Bible pretty plainly says gays are icky, but where is the specific call to not do business with/for them? And if it doesn’t say that, why make the jump? Can’t you feel gays are an abomination and still deal with them in the world as loving Christians?

  • emma

    I don’t think the question was answered. Maybe Nazi cakes is too bold an example for you? Should a Hindu restaurant be forced to cater beef for a wedding? Should a gay bakery be forced to write “I do not support gay marriage” on a cake? How about the use of common sense and not try to provoke others by forcing your viewpoints down their throat. For whatever reason, right or wrong, the Christian baker did not believe in gay marriage and did not want to make a cake for something that is against his belief. I fully support that with the same passion I would support the gay bakery not putting “I do not support gay marriage” on a cake. It is idiotic and drama ridden.

  • emma

    The Muslim shouldn’t have to cough up any excuses. He has just as much right to not engage in things that are against his religion as the gay person has every right to love whom they choose. Just as gays should not have to hide what they believe, neither should the rest of the world. Do not go to a devoutly catholic bakery and ask for a gay cake. Or a Satan cake for that matter. Do not go to a gay bakery and ask for an antigay cake. Why is this so hard??

  • emma

    Larry seems to think its ok to discriminate as long as you don’t say that’s what you are doing by “coughing up excuses”. Sorry Larry. People should not have to lie about their faith. Just as gays should not have to lie and hide that they are gay. Once again, do not go to a gay bakery asking for antigay cakes and do not go to Christian bakeries asking for gay marriage cakes. Use common sense and NO laws or regulations would be needed. Or lying.

  • emma

    From what I have read (I am not religious) it is not a problem serving gay people. For the first bakery issue in Colorado, the baker stated he will serve gay people and have gay staff but when it comes to providing a gay cake for a wedding, he feels he is now part of it and that would be against his religion. Most arguments by Christians seem to lead more toward gay MARRIAGE not simply gay…though as you stated, the bible as a whole does not speak kindly of gays. But marriage of gays would be strictly forbidden. I for one support gay marriage. I do NOT support a Christian bakery being forced to make pro gay marriage cakes because it is just as idiotic to go to a gay bakery and ask for antigay cakes.

  • sally

    If a Muslim restaurant refused to serve Christians because of this law, how
    would that play out to the Christian community?

    If a Muslim family came into a Christian restaurant and decided to pray before dining, and put their prayer rungs down and started praying, would this restaurant be able to deny them their right to religious freedom?

    How does this law work and I can’t imagine how complex it could get.

    This sounds like back in the day where you would see signs that say “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” … aimed at blacks.

    Your religious freedom law truly is a step backwards and a black eye on this nation that has come so far in trying to give “liberty and justice for all” .. as
    “all men are created equal” .. Does the Bible really say to throw out the Constitution and deny rights to certain groups?

  • Luke Montgomery

    “idiotic to go to a gay bakery and ask for antigay cakes”

    But gays don’t have a law where they are allowed to not do business with homophobes.

    Also, where does that stop? Do I get to not make cakes for any religious people, period, as an atheist? You’ve just described a slippery slope where all discrimination is allowed because of the firmly held beliefs of the discriminator.

  • Jorbear
  • Donna

    Okay Ben, you actually said exactly what is so apparent to all of us Christians yet everyone else so ironically ignores. ” It is extremely unlikely that Nazis would patronize a Jewish baker”, so why does a gay couple insist on patronizing a Christian baker? It’s called greed and let me FORCE my beliefs on you because right now more than any other time in America we are morally corrupt. They see a quick get rich get noticed scheme. Sue the bakery! They are really taking us back in time, this is why gays have always been so unacceptable, because they insist we have to like them and what they do. I love everyone gay or straight, black or white. However I do not have to like what they do or how they believe. I know that I can go find 500 strangers who would tell me they do not hate me because they do not know me, but…they hate it that I smoke. They have that right, but smoking is legal. I have the right to hate the act of homosexuality but I can still love the person!

  • Tammy

    Uhh…you better read the Bible so you know whats in it….it has nothing to do with the Constituition

  • Tammy

    Its not like these bakers/photographers refuse to serve gay people overall. I feel that they should serve them for regular things. For a Christian, where it would conflict with their faith is when a wedding is involved, no other time. Like a baker would be in conflict with beliefs if they had to do a wedding cake etc to “celebrate” something their religious belief is again. Just like they would be against doing a cake of genitalia. And photographers certainly should not have to take pictures of the intimate moments shared by a gay couple if its against their religious beliefs. I don’t get it….why the offended gay folks don’t just go elsewhere in these cases.Tolerance is a two way street but unfortunately that word seems to be redefined where is their way or no way. Law or no law. I will not do anything against my religious beliefs no matter the outcome.

  • Tammy

    Well Said!!!

  • Garson Abuita

    Genitalia cakes, swastika cakes, Hindu caterers required to serve beef — these are all of a piece. Like I said, antidiscrimination laws do not require a merchant to sell any specific product or create a specific message for any given customer.
    The ironic thing about all of this is that a few weeks ago, it was perfectly legal under Indiana law to refuse to serve based on sexual orientation. Barring some local ordinance, a baker could legally refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple that she would’ve baked for a straight couple. Yet Indiana put itself in the national spotlight with this law, causing a major backlash which led it yesterday to add statutory language preventing such discrimination. They shot their load on this so hard it’s impossible to keep the schadenfreude from coming out.

  • Firefly

    Yes, absolutely. Nobody should be forced to be a part of something, even indirectly, that they think is immoral.

  • Firefly

    A lot of people don’t seem to get the nuance of the situation.
    Say a KKK member walks into a bakery and asks the black baker to make him a cake. Like it or not, to refuse is discrimination as his KKK involvement isn’t really related to his getting cake.

    The same KKK member walks in & asks a the baker for a cake for their next new member induction. Now, if the baker makes it, he’s indirectly participating in something that is incredibly offensive to him & against his ethics, basically helping new members celebrate their hate of his people.

    Most Christian bakers would bake a gay person a generic cake, like for his nephew’s birthday or whatever. But to bake a gay-wedding cake is to indirectly participate in something against their religion & ethics. Why should they be forced under law to do so? Would you like to be forced in such a way, to face the threat of losing your livelihood or betraying your ethics? That’s why laws like this are needed. Good on Indiana for…

  • Heather

    It’s a silly comparsion really. I do believe a Jewish baker does have to right to refuse to make a nazi influenced cake but doesn’t have the right to refuse to serve all Germans here in America just for being German.

  • Ann McErlean

    I’d be interested in people’s thoughts on what the “conscience clause “means to them. No one is telling anyone to hate another person; hatred of people is sinful, as we’re taught as Christians.

    But behavior and beliefs can be discerned and judged; they’re situations, not people. And Jesus expects us to do that without hating any person. “Decisions must be made in the context of one’s faith”; there’s nothing personal about it.
    Each person has a set of beliefs that he hopes will be respected, not have someone else saying , “No your way is wrong”. It’s disrespectful. If one person’s conscience says, “no i cant attend your civil ceremony”, then leave them alone. Respect the decision. If another person says, “no, i only attend gay weddings”, then leave them alone as well. You can still get along with each other.
    I don’t know why it’s so hard for differences to be respected; moral beliefs are common to everyone in some way.
    Thank you.

  • Ann McErlean

    That really would be up to the Muslim baker, and his beliefs, it seems.

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  • Jesus

    what about those who are opposed to the military? should they get a 40% tax break? sadly, being part of a society means you dont get to have things your way all he time. you as a person are allowed to be a as racist and bigoted as you want. the second you start dealing with the public, however, you lose that right. im sorry to tell you that people’s rights to be treated equally trump your business’ right to discriminate

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  • Mike

    I have been asking one simple question to many people and they are as stumped as I am in many cases and that is how would a company know if you are gay or not. Also dose this cover bisexuals with partial service clause?