By Tony Perkins
A Kentucky company called “Hands On” wishes liberals would keep their “hands off!” Two years after the Christian outfitters turned down a t-shirt order for a local gay pride parade, the far-Left crowd is getting its revenge. After 24 months of back-and-forth, Lexington’s Human Rights Commission finally issued its ruling this week, finding the business guilty of breaking the town’s “fairness” ordinance. Their punishment? City-ordered reeducation known as “diversity training.”
The Commission’s Executive Director, Raymond Sexton, says he agrees that it’s time for Christians in the marketplace “to leave their religion at home.” Otherwise, he warned, “you can find yourself two years down the road and you’re still involved in a legal battle because you did not do so.” Still, he tried to hedge, “We’re not telling somehow how to feel with respect to religion, but the law is pretty clear that if you operate a business to the public, you need to provide your services to people regardless…” Sexton explained to Fox News’s Todd Starnes.
But just because a company sells to the public doesn’t mean it has to surrender its private views. Even for a t-shirt company, there’s no one-size-fits all approach to managing a business. Like any shop, Hands On has the freedom to establish its own criteria of conduct and conscience. Blaine Adamson, the devout believer who runs Hands On Originals, was stunned. After all, there was no malice in the family’s decision — who politely declined to print t-shirts with a rainbow message that contradicted their faith. Unfortunately for the Left, the Constitution doesn’t award its rights on the basis of political correctness. And until that changes, the Adamsons have as much freedom to reject homosexuality as his customers do to endorse it.
While their attorneys at ADF fight on, Hands On’s story is an interesting backdrop to a week full of marriage news. Thanks to the Supreme Court, Christians will be exposed to more attacks of this nature. By refusing to step in and protect state marriage amendments, the Left will have even greater latitude to punish people who morally object to the homosexual agenda. That’s apparently news to outlets like the Washington Post and Salon.com, which seem oblivious to the fallout from redefining marriage happening right in front of their eyes.
While Hands On fights for the right to exercise the most basic of liberties, folks at the Post make the ridiculous assertion that “…in cold political terms, the religious freedom issue is not the stuff of broad-based backlash.” How else do you explain the outrage over Hobby Lobby? Or the nationwide firestorm over the President’s HHS mandate? Or the indignation — from liberals too — over the ousting of Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich? Protecting religious liberty is the stuff of broad-based backlash — so much so that it ranked first (over even national security) in voters’ priorities in our VVS straw poll just two weeks ago.
Salon.com takes the insinuation even farther, claiming it’s a myth that same-sex “marriage” will “put you out of work.” Ask Brandon Eich, Craig James, Dr. Angela McCaskill, or Jerry Buell if that’s an “unhinged conservative reaction.” I’d tell Salon to stop by Sweet Cakes by Melissa and test their theory — but they can’t, because the shop no longer exists. The Kleins had to close their store because of the fierce opposition that, Salon would tell you, doesn’t exist. Now, with Hands On being hauled before the P.C. police, it’s obvious that wedding vendors aren’t the only ones at risk. Christians in any kind of business have been warned: forfeiting their First Amendment rights are just the price of citizenship.
Maybe that’s why the country’s governors are so intent on beating back this attack at their states’ borders. In Idaho, where Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy just put the brakes on same-sex “weddings” for now, Gov. Butch Otter (R) made it clear that his team won’t stop until the judicial tyranny does. In one of the five states affected by the Supreme Court’s non-decision decision on Monday, he says, “I intend to be faithful to my oath of office and keep working to protect the Idaho Constitution and the mandate of Idaho voters in support of traditional marriage.”
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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