Gary Johnson: a post-game analysis

Recently, in an impromptu interview, Gary Johnson expressed some deep reservations about the idea of “religious freedom.” He essentially argued that it could lead to a slippery slope, in which religious individuals justify all sorts of crimes using their religious conscience. He said:

I mean under the guise of religious freedom, anybody can do anything. Back to Mormonism. Why shouldn’t somebody be able to shoot somebody else because their freedom of religion says that God has spoken to them and that they can shoot somebody dead.”

Now, this comment was admittedly incomplete. We’re not getting the full picture, since he’s referring to something previously addressed in the conversation, but wasn’t included in the interview transcript. So some people reached out and asked for clarification. Johnson responded:

My point, made with an unfortunate example, is that religion has been used too many times to justify discrimination, persecution and, yes, violence. Acts of violence and aggression can not be excused by religion and all people must be held accountable for their own actions.

Here’s my issue. No one (credible) is advocating for an unfettered ability to justify any crime under the auspices of relgious conscience. In short, nobody who is concerned about the rights of wedding vendors, doctors, and religious schools is asking for the ability to murder people with impunity.

His example may have been unfortunate, but he has only doubled down on his strawman: he believes that if you enact accommodations for those of religious conscience, you risk a slippery slope where you must accommodate ANY crime undertaken in the name of religion. And this simply is not true. It is wholly, unequivacably false.

Johnson’s perspective ignores hundreds of years of actual jurisprudence surrounding religious freedom. Since the founding of our nation, it has been recognized by courts that religious freedom is bounded by laws that protect public health and safety, or any other “compelling state interest.” Never has the Supreme Court — even under the strongest and broadest readings of the First Amendment — permitted people to engage in criminal behavior with impunity merely because their motives were religious.

There is no slippery slope here. No law passed by a legislature in the modern U.S. to protect limited religious freedoms of wedding vendors, pharmacists, pro-life doctors, or church universities is going to give ANYONE legal pretext to murder, plunder, or steal in the name of religion, or anything like it. Nobody (credible) in the debate even wants such a pretext. To imply otherwise is not merely a straw man of the religious freedom movement, but a overtly hostile reading of their intentions and proposals.

This sloppy slippery slope argument cuts both ways. To illustrate what I mean, let me use the exact same approach on Johnson’s argument: Non-discrimination laws have been used justify discrimination, persecution and, yes, violence. Businesses have been shuttered on the auspices of such laws. Where does it end? Can private groups exclude non-members? Can Mormons even expect to be able to exclude non-Mormons from their temples, under a full non-discrimination regime? Will religions be dismantled and their leaders jailed for discriminating against non-members?

Johnson might well reply, “No, no one is even asking for non-discrimination laws to be applied in such a dramatic fashion. It’s wrong to assume that we’d ever take things that far. Courts have long acknowledged at least some First Amendment limits to non-discrimination laws (such as the power of churches to maintain membership standards). Stop straw-manning my position that way.”

Well, Johnson, then stop straw-manning those who advocate for religious freedom in the same way. Just as you aren’t seeking to close down churches for discrimination, we aren’t seeking the power to commit crime and violence with impunity. On both sides, our respective perspectives are assumed to be bound by common sense, longstanding jurisprudence, and Constitutional law.

Religious freedom is bounded, and everyone already knows that. If there is a compelling state interest in preventing murder (and there certainly is), then religious freedom stops there. If there is a compelling state interest in prevention violence of any kind (and there certainly is), then religious freedom stops there. And finally, if there is a compelling state interest in preventing discrimination of any kind (debatable in at least some cases, surely), then religious freedom stops there.

We don’t disagree with that. We just disagree that all forms of discrimination are the same, and that ending all forms of discrimination rises to the level of a compelling state interest. A Jewish baker does no great societal harm by declining to paste a swastika to a cake. A wedding planner does no great societal harm by being selective of the events she chooses to manage, for whatever reasons she chooses.

Perhaps there is greater societal harm if some marginalized groups can’t find places to eat or sleep — so preventing some forms (or even many forms) of discrimination might indeed rise to the level of a compelling state interest, depending on your view. But surely not all of them do. Johnson himself would recognize this, as I’m sure even he supports Mormons’ right to exclude non-Mormons from their sacred temples. That’s discrimination, after all. So he draws the line somewhere. We just disagree on precisely where to draw that line.

When asked if he intended to end discrimination in all cases, Johnson said, “”Yes, yes, in all cases. Yes.” But we all know he doesn’t really mean that. He assumes that we all already know that he’s not going to force Churches not to discriminate, and that this statement changes nothing in that regards. These lines are so obvious to him, so thoroughly assumed from the outset, he doesn’t even feel he doesn’t have to state them.

And if Johnson can have such “assumed” lines, why can’t we? Why are we forced to state outright that no, murdering people crosses the line, and we’re not going to make that legal? Why can’t we just assume that everyone already knows we aren’t trying to legalize violence in the name of religion? If Johnson can simply assume as a given that non-discrimination laws will be limited and bounded by established First Amendment protections for churches, then why doesn’t he allow us the same privilege with regards to religious accommodations (with respect to violence and other societal ills)?

My plea to Gary Johnson (someone send this to him): Gary Johnson, you can do better than this. If you want to court the millions of social conservatives who are hurting from Trump’s presidential candidacy, you need to get your head on straight on this issue. No, we’re not asking for a license to discriminate in all cases. We’re simply asking for specific accommodations for those of conscience to decline to participate in what they consider to be moral evils, in some reasonable circumstances.

Do you think a doctor should be forced to perform an abortion? I’m giving you a benefit of a doubt, and assume you don’t (because if you do, then we have much bigger issues). So then why should a wedding photographer be forced to use her arts and talents to memorialize a wedding she finds morally objectionable? It’s a legitimate question. Please answer it without the bogus claim that allowing such accommodations could lead to legalizing violence in the name of religion.

Just as you can draw strong, implicit lines that bound your policy preferences, so can we. Religious freedom has always been bounded by laws that protect health and safety. Nobody wants to change that. We just don’t see it as a threat to public health and safety that someone can’t coerce everyone of every faith use their arts and talents to memorialize their same-sex wedding.

You claim, “My crystal ball is that you are going to get discriminated against by somebody because it’s against their religion.” Maybe that’s true. And guess what? That’s OK. But with the limited accommodations we are describing, we don’t expect some dystopic world where anyone gets denied services on a regular basis.

Because that assumes very negative things about your fellow Americans, most of whom — even the most deeply religious — have no problem feeding, clothing, housing, or otherwise serving gay people, for example. Some of us just don’t want to participate in same-sex weddings (and yes, you can build these distinctions into law). And that’s OK, because there’s plenty of other people who will. Surely that’s not a dystopia, is it?

And if you do see that as a dystopia, then you’ve likely lost the vote and confidence of your Christian neighbors. And for surprisingly un-libertarian and surprisingly authoritarian reasons.

23 thoughts on “Gary Johnson: a post-game analysis

  1. I agree with the vast majority of what is written here, but surely you must realize that some of the people arguing for legal cover via religious reasons certainly do want a license to break significant the laws with impunity – take the Fundamentalist Mormon Polygamists for instance – what they want is cover for child rape in the first instance, and secondarily they are arguing right now in the courts that their religion allows them to commit fraud against the federal government’s food assistance programs (that is their actual primary defense against the fraud charges).

  2. John, surely we can make relevant distinctions, though.

    The same is true on the converse: the vast majority of supporters of non-discrimination don’t want to shut down churches and church universities. But some do, and are pushing non-discrimination laws as a cover for that agenda.

    It cuts both ways. And since it cuts both ways, Gary Johnson can’t argue the slippery slope on the one hand without acknowledging it on the other; and if he claims that there are distinctions on the other hand, then we can make comparable distinctions too.

  3. While I have grave differences with Johnson, I’m not sure we can say this is a strawman. Rather it’s an extreme example to establish a principle. In the same way that “yelling fire in a theatre” isn’t a strawman for freedom of speech. It’s simply recognizing that rights don’t exist in a vacuum and can’t be seen as absolute.

    As such I think it’s an important point he raises.

    Of course where push comes to shove is where those rights run into limits and why. For instance even the Church came out against that Kentucky woman who refused to do marriage licenses despite what the Supreme Court stated.

    There’s a very defensible position that religious liberty means being able to say no to state imposition but that when you choose to sell to the public you have to sell to all the public. That is the state can’t force you to go to a gay marriage but they can say that your ability to choose to sell to the public is when you make your liberty.

    Clearly some want more than that. They want to have religious liberty such that public businesses can do whatever limits they want. The problem is that this runs directly into other limits. Consider orthodox Jews with strong views about interacting with gentiles. To what degree can they have a business that interacts with others? It’s that sort of thing that I don’t see people like Johnson dealing well with.

    Where I see the battlefront coming isn’t over public businesses that ostensible are open to all but more quasi-private organizations like Church colleges (under threat in California) or the afore mentioned orthodox Jewish organizations. And realistically, as I think we’re seeing in California, even if they can’t make something illegal they can attack it indirectly through things like housing.

  4. Clark: There’s a very defensible position that religious liberty means being able to say no to state imposition but that when you choose to sell to the public you have to sell to all the public.

    Under all conditions with no reasonable accommodations? That’s REALLY stretching it. Should my dad, as a freelance graphic designer, be compelled to design a pornographic magazine merely because the client walked into his office? Really? Are you SURE you believe that? Is that really a defensible point of view?

    Is there no strong argument for making accommodations in these cases? No distinctions we can make that allow people to abstain from taking on jobs they find immoral? (Besides just leaving the industry, that is.)

    Please, please, please tell me you don’t believe that. Are you seriously maintaining that this absolutists position of, “As a freelancer, you must accept any job that a client places on your desk,” is a reasonable approach to the world? And if that’s not your position, and if you believe that my dad CAN decline to do a pornographic magazine, why can’t the photographer decline to memorialize a wedding that she finds to be similarly immoral and in violation of God’s laws?

    Can we not make a distinction between turning away people because of their sexual orientation, and turning away particular jobs or events? Maybe my dad can’t turn away a customer merely because he’s gay; if the customer wants to designer a magazine about printer cartridges, my dad would be wrong to turn him away based on his sexual orientation. But if he asks my dad to design a campaign ad for same-sex marriage, my dad can say no. Can’t we make those distinctions?

    If not, why not?

    Clark: They want to have religious liberty such that public businesses can do whatever limits they want.

    I really feel like this is a straw man.

    In nearly *every case* that has made the public, the person was asking for a very narrow exemption. The florist sold flowers to gay people all the time; she just didn’t want to be present at and specifically cater a same-sex wedding. (She even offered them pre-arranged flowers, and they declined.) The baker in Colorado was perfectly willing to bake birthdays cakes for gay people. He just didn’t want to specifically design a cake to celebrate a gay weeding. The pizza shop had never once turned away a gay person before, and gladly welcomed all to eat there. They only stated that they wouldn’t cater the wedding meal for a same-sex wedding. The photographer was perfectly willing to do portraits for gay people. She just didn’t want to lend her art and talent to celebrate a same-sex wedding.

    That’s not “doing whatever limits they want.” That’s narrow, defined, limited, and contextual. Can you please admit that these people aren’t crazy or asking for a blank check?


    I’m shocked that even some Mormons are acting like this is asking too much. Why is this crazy? Why is it weird and bizarre not to want to be at a celebration of something that GOD HAS CONDEMNED? And why are we forcing people to be there?

    “Then they just shouldn’t be in that business” is not an acceptable answer. That’s a bully’s answer.

  5. What’s frustrating about this is that people are imagining dystopias resulting from all this. They are implying that if we allow limited accommodations for conscience of the sort I’m describing, people will be discriminated against all the time, left and right, at all sorts of establishments, merely because they are gay.

    Newsflash: The accommodations I describe are actually in place, and have been in place, for quite some time in half of the states. And no dystopic nightmare yet of that sort.

    Yes, there’s progress to be made in many states. But the problems that some are experiencing are NOT due to limited accommodations such as those I describe, or that most people are asking for.

  6. From what I’ve found, Johnson was raised Christian, but doesn’t go to any church anymore, saying “the God that I speak to is not — doesn’t have a particular religion.”

    He seems to encapsulate the problems of post-Christianity: holding on to principles of fairness, non-discrimination and a special consideration for victims and the outcast, but rejecting the terms and conditions of organized Christianity. It doesn’t seem to occur to post-Christians that many of their “intuitions” about fairness are inherited from Christian roots, but that once detached from the root of Christ, the branches have no ability to give life and fruit according to presumed standards of ‘fairness’.

    Johnson’s position is so arbitrary, which conflicts with what Libertarianism/pluralism is all about. Libertarians I know value freedom of association, but to Gary Johnson, religious motivations must be singled out and disadvantaged. If the question were about money, which is a thing that certainly has prompted much violence and discrimination, it’s like Gary Johnson is saying, we have to restrict monetary motivations because there’s just too much potential that there could be discrimination or violence against those who don’t have money, or use a different currency. But such a stance would be obviously un-libertarian.

    Anyway, I don’t know how the Libertarians allowed this kind of incoherence get to the top of the party, but it is too bad that it is so in a year when many people are looking for a new home and basing their decision on the principle of religious freedom.

  7. LDSPhilosophy, I think that’s a good point. And let me say I don’t agree with this position, but I can understand it. The question would be what limits are reasonable judgments. Liberals are saying that some special protected groups (race, sexual orientation) don’t count for exclusion. The question then becomes why. The way liberals are making the distinction is between acts and people (which is rather interesting for religious people). It’s impossible to design pornography without doing pornography but I think the argument goes that a wedding cake is pretty different in terms of act. As you know from the debate it ends up hinging upon what counts as participating in an act.

    Now up front I’ll say I think at least some liberals are pretty disingenuous on this point. For instance how title IX is going to be used in California.

  8. (Whoops — posted before finished. Ignore types in the above)

    Regarding your point about “don’t do that business” being about bullying. I’m not sure I buy that. The question is what is a reasonable expectation for what a business is supposed to do. I get the distinction you’re attempting to make and am somewhat sympathetic to it. By and large were it up to me I’d carve out exceptions. But at what point do we end the exceptions? Where do we draw that line. That’s where I think the question of public business and expectations of what that means matter.

    The reason liberals treat gay clients differently is because they see past discrimination and their being made a special case. Now I personally am sympathetic to that but also think it only moves the line somewhat. Certainly not as far as liberals wish. To me the question is whether someone doing catering has a reasonable expectation of being asked to service catering for gay people. That seems quite reasonable. To me saying, “don’t cater (or offer yourself for photographing) if you’re uncomfortable with that” seems reasonable.

    By the same measure I’d think carved out religious liberties means religious people shouldn’t be excluded for reasonable accommodations. So say when I lived in the south and many people strongly disliked Mormons, it’d be ridiculous to be refused service or for construction firms to refuse to work on a Mormon chapel just because of their religious beliefs. To me that’s the same sort of thing. I recognize you might disagree that an Evangelical who sees a Mormon as something God condemned is the same as a gay marriage. But to me they’re actually pretty similar. Made worse that gays have been made a special protected class by the government.

    The problem fundamentally is that society has changed and where you and I see reasonable accommodations by and large the public does not.

  9. I agree with you when you say, “The way liberals are making the distinction is between acts and people (which is rather interesting for religious people).” But are you just toying with us? Because that’s the EXACT distinction WE are making. Clark, you seem like a reasonable smart person. So why do you ignore distinctions that are relevant to the matter?

    You said, “To me the question is whether someone doing catering has a reasonable expectation of being asked to service catering for gay people.”

    BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT’S HAPPENING. Would the photographer in question decline to take other forms of portraiture the same gay person? No, she wouldn’t. She even said so. They aren’t refusing to serve gay people. They. simply. aren’t. You know that. You KNOW that most of these people would be perfectly willing to photograph or cater a birthday party, or a graduation party, even if EVERYONE THERE was gay. So how are these people discrimination solely on the basis of sexual orientation?

    They are perfectly willing to do catering for gay people. You are being intellectually dishonest to imply that they aren’t.

    They are simply asking that they not be required to lend their talents to celebrate a particular event/celebration they find to be immoral. It’s the particular activity they object to, not the sexual orientations of the people present. They would be perfectly willing to cater to different kinds of events even if everyone there was gay. They aren’t making the choice based on the sexual orientation of the persons, but on the nature of the event. Heck, if gay man and a lesbian were marrying each other, the photographer would probably be fine with it, because that’s a union she can in good conscience, according to her faith, celebrate.

    Here’s the point: it is a fundamental tenet of my religious faith that an opposite sex union and a same sex union are fundamentally different things, and so the celebrations surrounding each are fundamentally different in ways that are relevant to my faith. So why I can’t I make that distinction, in the same way that my dad would design sales magazines for a gay person, but not a pornographic magazine for a gay person?

    If you object and say, “But the law treats those marriages as the same, so the photographer has to as well,” you’re missing the point. Federal law makes no distinction between abortificant birth control and other forms of birth control. It’s not a distinction the law makes room for. But HOBBY LOBBY, as a matter of their religious faith, made such a distinction. And they were allowed accommodations based on that distinction, even though the law disagreed with that distinction.

    In short, we ARE talking making a “distinction between acts and people.” You just are refusing to acknowledge that distinction in this particular case. Why? You’re smart. You know that this distinction can be made. Why are you pretending it doesn’t exist?

    So why aren’t you making that distinction? Are you just being intellectually dishonest with us? I KNOW you know how to make that distinction. But you refuse to. Why not?

  10. I think a possible way forward might be to write very narrow exceptions into the law as possible cases that could be invoked. Then when a business license is applied for the owner would need to specify in advance what exceptions they wanted to claim and those exceptions would be printed on the publicly displayed license.

    I’m sympathetic to the arguments presented in this discussion, but have an aversion in general to the idea that businesses can just arbitrarily pick and choose who to discriminate against. Having personally seen businesses (in southern Utah) turn away black people (when I was a young child) I know granting a broad permission to discriminate will end up causing real harm. But, as has been pointed out here (and elsewhere) real harm is *also* caused forcing 100% non-discrimination.

    (Obviously the list of exceptions would need to change over time as society changed. Since business licenses tend to be renewed every year owners could opt into or out of any given exception.)

  11. John: “I’m sympathetic to the arguments presented in this discussion, but have an aversion in general to the idea that businesses can just arbitrarily pick and choose who to discriminate against.”

    I really hope you don’t think that’s what anyone is arguing for here. Because that’s exactly the straw man that Gary Johnson makes, and that I’m trying so very hard to dispel.

    We are not making that claim. And I just wish people would stop acting like we are. Just stop it already. Please?

  12. How many times have you gone into a business and saw a sign on the wall that said: “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” Those were standard issue in many businesses when I was growing up. It was most often invoked for racist reasons, but it could be invoked for anything. That was the state of the law at that time. Currently such an approach would not stand up to legal challenge in most jurisdictions. I sorry if my wording earlier offended you, but the core issue I have is putting strict limits on what discrimination will be allowed because I believe in the principle taught in D&C 121 that when people get a little authority they tend to abuse it. I honestly believe that no matter how tightly or narrowly the exceptions are drawn in the law there will always be people who flagrantly violate the limits. They will only stop when they are forced to. I’m sure many won’t, but some will.

  13. John: I honestly believe that no matter how tightly or narrowly the exceptions are drawn in the law there will always be people who flagrantly violate the limits.

    I have no doubt. The same is true of EVERY freedom and accommodation of any kind. People make wrong choices all the time. Parents daily abuse their parental authority. Judges daily abuse their judicial discretion. It’s life.

    The balance we have to engage in, is, “Are the harms of abuses in some cases so egregious that we must sacrifice essential liberties to stop them?” For many things yes. But quite frankly, I don’t share your view that a society in which a small handful of people abuse a small amount of freedoms in ways that minorly inconvenience people on a some rare occasions is some sort of dystopia that we must sacrifice religious freedom to prevent.

    In more than half of the U.S. states, the accommodations I describe already exist, to a FAR GREATER extent than I am even describing — and have for decades. Are you trying to imply that abuses are so widespread and conditions are so bad in those states as to outweigh the importance of accommodation those of religious faith when we can?

    It’s a balancing act. And quite frankly, I see the harms of making NO accommodations for those of faith to FAR outweigh the harms that some few will abuse those accommodations. And I honestly don’t think there’s harm AT ALL that a gay couple has to call a second photographer for their wedding because the first declined due to religious reasons. I actually don’t see that as a harm worth mentioning, much less to sacrifice religious freedom to prevent. It’s no more harm than having to call a second photographer because the first one was booked that weekend.

  14. LDSPhilosopher “I agree with you when you say, “The way liberals are making the distinction is between acts and people (which is rather interesting for religious people).” But are you just toying with us? Because that’s the EXACT distinction WE are making. Clark, you seem like a reasonable smart person. So why do you ignore distinctions that are relevant to the matter?”

    I think you miss my point. (And again for the record, I’m presenting what I take to be the liberal argument – not that I necessarily agree with that argument) You aren’t giving a distinction about why a caterer open to the public is somehow open to a distinction of what types of catering they should do. That’s what I take liberals to be asking for and not getting. (Or at least not getting in a form they think appropriate) That is if you can’t explain why this particular act is validly different from an other act then the liberal will see it as merely hiding how a particular person is treated.

    The point the liberal would make is that catering a gay wedding isn’t participating in the wedding. To say I’m being intellectually dishonest when I raise that as their point seems questionable. If you are discriminating not because of acts but because of who is doing the act then you break the act/person distinction.

    Now what you want to argue is that certain acts somehow are participating in the behavior. Fine. Clearly delineate how to specify when you are participating. Merely being present seems like an insufficient criteria. Further, if you say a portrait photographer would have no trouble taking portraits, would they have troubles if they were wedding photos but not at the wedding itself? These are the distinction liberals are making and why they simply find the claim it’s not about the people to be dubious. That is to the liberal they think conservatives are raising distinctions to discriminate against the person that aren’t really act distinctions. You and I might disagree, but we have to be more clear in the nature of our disagreements.

    As for the pornography distinction, that seems perfectly easy to draw a distinction for. You find it wrong to work with such images. So far as I know there are no protected classes for such images. (And to be clear that protected class matters a lot because it’s why liberals think conservatives are just trying to be tricky in order to discriminate against gays)

    Again what I think you want to say is that if an event is seen as immoral, then engagement with that event in any way is immoral in a way people should be free not to do. (I am assuming that is your point) But clearly liberals don’t see gay marriage as something society judges as immoral. Thus they see the distinction as insufficient.

    Then the question becomes religious liberty. But of course to a liberal that doesn’t matter if the acts in question are seen as discriminatory if one refrains from treating them as normative. Really that’s what it comes down to. Liberals see gay marriage as normative and acceptable in a way that pornography isn’t – primarily because they see gays as a protected class and thus requires a higher standard than say pornography.

    Now more or less what you’re saying is they shouldn’t be a protected class or that religion should trump protected classes. And that’s fine. I tend to agree with you. But let’s at least be clear what the argument is.

    With regards to broader argument (that is more independent of the legal ones — and I’m far from qualified to comment on the legal issues) really the issue is what happens when two activities clash when we think both should be given special treatment (religious liberty and special class protection from discrimination). I’m not sure there’s a way to really adjudicate that beyond discussing how society values the two. The basic change now from the 1990’s is that religion isn’t valued by society as much and gay rights are valued far more than they were.

  15. Clark, what I feel that you are saying is this: It is entirely immaterial that the photographer would photograph workplace celebrations where everyone happened to be gay, or graduation parties where everyone happened to be gay, or opposite-sex weddings where both parties were gay. If she declines to photograph a same-sex wedding, however, that’s discrimination against gays.

    I feel like you have still dismissed this crucial distinction as if it were trivial. Why is it trivial? Why is it immaterial to the question? If I don’t want to design a brochure advertising a Black Lives Matter movement (because of a misguided perception that the movement celebrates the shooting of cops), and someone calls that discriminatory against a protected class, isn’t it extremely material to the case that I design brochures for black people all the time (and for other black causes)?

    For example, imagine a photographer was opposed to same-sex marriage on religious principle, but extremely supportive of non-discrimination laws that protect gay people in the realm of housing and employment, and actively maintains friendships with, and business relationships with, a number of gay clients. He declines to photograph a same-sex wedding based on his religious beliefs. Someone calls that discriminatory. Isn’t it extremely material to the case that the same photographer went out of his way to photograph a rally in support of non-discrimination laws, and regularly photographs events for gay clients?

    Those distinctions speak to the motivations of the person. Non-discrimination laws don’t say that I can’t ever say no to a gay person. It just means that I can’t use their sexual orientation as the basis for saying no. And if someone can demonstrate that they serve gay clients in many other capacities, is that not evidence that they aren’t using sexual orientation as their basis for saying no? And that it is something else (and objection to the activity being celebrated, for example) that is their basis?

    You reply that liberals don’t make that distinction. But shouldn’t they? They make that distinction it in most other cases. Photographers and designers are still free to turn down events promoting political causes they disbelieve in — even if those causes advance the goals of a protected class. So they do make that distinction. They’ve just decided not to in this particular area.

    Why aren’t you helping to clarify? Why are you instead insisting only blurring those distinctions? Do you prefer a world where those distinctions didn’t exist?

    As to your other point, I also suspect that there’s a gradation of participation. On the one hand, certainly solemnizing the wedding is “participation.” On the other hand, selling cardstock to someone who will use it to make wedding invitations is certainly not participation. But the line has got to be drawn somewhere, right?

    I think photography is an art and form of expression, and a form of memorializing the occasion, making it look snazzy and pretty for future generations. They are, in a sense, marketing (and celebrating) the relationship with their art. I think that’s well over the line of “participation.”

  16. To describe these Last Days as “interesting” would be as offensive and cruel as labeling the Nephites’ last days as “interesting”. In a day of lives lost to famines, wars, and terrorism, of precious young souls stolen by Lucifer via homosexual propaganda, we must stand firm, yet courteous and Christlike. I still stand all amazed at the Church’s charitable approach. Couldn’t an LDS/Christian baker or wedding photographer say this to a gay potential customer: “I must tell you that I have a deep, personal, cherished belief in marriage being ordained of God for one man and one woman. I know that XYZ on State Street in Townsville has served gay couples and they will surely be able to help you”.

    As I heard on a talk radio show, won’t the market take care of it?

    We need protection under the law though, because as it is not right for the state to force a Jewish Kosher store to sell me a ham just because I, a gentile, live in the same town, how much worse it is to force an LDS baker to help celebrate something he deems morally wrong, as wrong as baking a wedding cake for a druglord. But the druglord probably doesn’t send his bodyguards dressed in black and wearing sunglasses into the bakery saying, “the cake for the boss had better be good, or we kill you and burn this shop down”. But the gays can file a lawsuit.

  17. Again, let me note that I’m representing what I take to be the liberal argument – not my own views.

    But yes, I take liberals to see no distinction between a gay marriage and graduation parties with gays because they take them to be normal behaviors and thus required for public businesses that deal with normal behaviors. Pornography shoots and the like are considered to be abnormal behaviors.

    That you don’t agree with this seems clear. But it’s not at all obvious why liberals are somehow incoherent in thinking this. It seems the difference is just one of values over what is or isn’t abnormal. Different groups will differ on that.

    To me the issue of clarification is just being clear as to what these values are. You are seeing it as a matter of distinctions and not values. That’s all I’m objecting to.

  18. To add, where I think the liberal position breaks down is best seen with Orthodox Jews who have pretty strict association rules. As I take the liberal position the only choice for these people who will refrain from touching people (negiah) for various reasons at various times in terms of public business is to not interact with the public. That is they couldn’t open up a public business that only interacted with male orthodox Jews. That is an orthodox Jews couldn’t be an exercise physical therapist or a masseuse as I understand it under the liberal position.

    This might be a better example as it avoids the overtones of the gay issue. (And even avoids the protected class issue so as to not conflate the legal and philosophical issues)

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