"While our numbers are not great, we are mighty."
March 8, 2016 5:11 PM   Subscribe

Eight Democrats are filibustering the latest attempt to legalize anti-same-sex-marriage discrimination, known as SJR 39, which "Prohibits the state from penalizing clergy, religious organizations, and certain individuals for their religious beliefs concerning marriage between two people of the same sex". The filibuster has been going since Monday afternoon, and you can listen here.
posted by Etrigan (80 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Worth mentioning that this is taking place in Missouri.
posted by dendrochronologizer at 5:14 PM on March 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


Dammit, you're right. I edited that intro so much I left it out.
posted by Etrigan at 5:16 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


As a clergy person (but not in Missouri), I support these eight.
posted by Stynxno at 5:30 PM on March 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


I couldn't qutie figure out what was going on but this made it clear for me:
Democrats in the Senate are trying to block a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would grant greater protections to individuals, religious organizations and some businesses opposed to gay marriage.

posted by Mitheral at 5:35 PM on March 8, 2016


I am constantly gobsmacked by the spectacle of supposed followers of the Prince of Peace agitating so strongly for their "right" to hate and discriminate against others. Jesus wept, indeed.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:35 PM on March 8, 2016 [40 favorites]


The precis is misleading:
"Prohibits the state from penalizing clergy, religious organizations, and certain individuals for their religious beliefs concerning marriage between two people of the same sex"

They are allowed to believe whatever they want, it's acting in accordance with those beliefs which is at issue.
posted by juv3nal at 5:36 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Sort of fascinating to watch the Chamber of Commerce align with the most liberal Democrats on this one.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:36 PM on March 8, 2016


So, I was reading the text of this thing, and this section is the real kicker:
[36.1] (4) That the state shall not impose a penalty on an individual who declines either to be a participant in a marriage or wedding ceremony or to provide goods or services of expressional or artistic creation for such a marriage or ceremony or an ensuing celebration thereof, because of sincere religious belief concerning marriage between two persons of the same sex.
Section 6 is also terrible, imho.
posted by fmoralesc at 5:40 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Let's apply the "is it racist?" test...

[36.1] (4) That the state shall not impose on an individual who declines either to be a participant in a marriage or wedding ceremony or to provide goods or services of expressional or artistic creation for such a marriage or ceremony or an ensuing celebration thereof, because of sincere religious belief concerning marriage between two persons of a different race.

Abso-fucking-lutely.
posted by Talez at 5:43 PM on March 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Actually, 36.1.1) is already pretty whack:
That the state shall not impose a penalty on a religious organization on the basis that the organization believes or acts in accordance with a sincere religious belief concerning marriage between two persons of the same sex
How do people come up with this stuff? Sigh.
posted by fmoralesc at 5:47 PM on March 8, 2016


May a US court even decide whether something is a "serious religious belief"? Wouldn't that sort of thing be considered an establishment of religion?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:48 PM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Sort of fascinating to watch the Chamber of Commerce align with the most liberal Democrats on this one.

Same thing happened last year here in Indiana. Pence and the legislature passed a similar bill, and among the "oh, hells no!" crowd was the Chamber of Commerce.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:50 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


May a US court even decide whether something is a "serious religious belief"? Wouldn't that sort of thing be considered an establishment of religion?

Sure seems like it to me, but apparently the lawyers say otherwise.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:51 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I kinda want to know what I personally did to all of these asshat theocrats to make them hate me so.

Then again, maybe I don't. I've done a lot of fucked up shit in my 33 years here. I once went to Missouri and pronounced it "misery".
posted by qcubed at 5:55 PM on March 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


I listened for a few minutes and learned that there's a landfill near? St. Louis - one, not two, one. they're connected and there isn't a wall according to federal documents, but it's traditionally thought of as two landfills anyway. And in that landfill there's thorium? radium, uranium 235 and 238, etc. It wasn't regulated when it was being dumped there. You can watch methane gas (which is invisible as a gas) escaping in the rain by going out and watching the bubbles rise up in puddles on blacktop. 235 has a half life of 4.5 million years and 238 has a half life of 450 million years, the filibusterer carries a data book on that in their purse.

Relatedly, just about everyone in the coldwater creek watershed has cancer.
posted by aniola at 5:56 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


May a US court even decide whether something is a "serious religious belief"? Wouldn't that sort of thing be considered an establishment of religion?

"Sincere religious belief" is a standard US courts routinely apply when it comes to the Free Exercise Clause. The court isn't embracing the religious belief, just concluding that it is religious in nature and "sincerely held." This sometimes becomes a Thing if prisoners sue to get kosher meals (because they may taste better) and the state doesn't want to provide them (because they definitely cost a lot more). Or if prisoners want exceptions to grooming regulations for religious reasons.

My sense is that courts don't worry about it too much as long as the belief corresponds to one held by a reasonable number of adherents to a generally recognized religion. People have a far more uphill battle with more esoteric beliefs, especially beliefs that happen to result in a personal advantage or one that commands them to break otherwise applicable laws.
posted by zachlipton at 6:00 PM on March 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


In case anyone wants to write thank you notes, I've been able to gather seven of the eight names from news reports:

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis
Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City
Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton
Sen. Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis
Sen. Jill Schupp, D-?
Sen. Kiki Curls, D-Kansas City
and (the great) Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City
posted by sallybrown at 6:01 PM on March 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


Ms. Nasheed sounds like an interesting woman, based on a quick gander at wikipedia.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 6:05 PM on March 8, 2016


It's funny to read this thread and then read this one.
posted by Hatashran at 6:24 PM on March 8, 2016


I listened for a few minutes and learned that there's a landfill near?

When I first heard about the filibuster early today, the word was that they were still very much on topic and passionate. I guess they've moved on to some other things in the intervening 12 hours.
posted by carsonb at 7:22 PM on March 8, 2016


Orthodox Jewish organizations are having a real tough time with this, and many are backing this sort of legislation. Three branches of Judaism already allow same-sex marriage, Orthodoxy doesn't and won't anytime in the near future. And the odds of someone Orthodox Jewish suing a shul that refuses to marry them to a same-sex partner seems pretty unlikely - anyone Orthodox would know you don't need a rabbi or a synagogue to get married according to Jewish law, so there's no one to sue (and the marriage wouldn't be valid according to halacha anyhow, so you wouldn't gain anything even if they were there presiding). And there are gay Orthodox Jewish groups looking to find ways to create change from within the system. So theoretically there should be no need for this sort of bill, and no reason to support it. But there are plenty of secular Jews who have issues with Orthodoxy (some of them pretty legitimate), and plenty of anti-religious organizations ready to fund any fight against any fundamentalist group on the grounds of social progress. A synagogue, because it serves such a tiny minority in the community, would be an easy target.

Since Judaism doesn't have a Vatican-equivalent of any sort, if someone who isn't Orthodox decides to sue a rabbi or a synagogue for refusing to marry them on religious grounds, the costs of a lawsuit - even if they're likely to win it if it went to court - could literally shut the synagogue down. (I am pretty sure this would also be true of many Protestant Christian churches that aren't affiliated with a deep-pockets megachurch or pastor.) In some cities in America, just having to fight a lawsuit like this could mean that Orthodox Jews end up with nowhere and no way to practice their religion (bankrupt the synagogue and good luck keeping your torahs, for one thing, and often the mikvah as well). And once a religion's basic faith precepts are no longer considered grounds for throwing out a case against them for following it, a Messianic or non-Jewish couple could also sue a synagogue of any denomination for not marrying them.

Obviously for the all-religions-are-evil-and-Orthodox/Conservative-religions-are-especially-so crowd, this is something to strive for. Shutting down an entire congregation for not accepting same-sex marriage would be considered a victory. And at the same time there are a not-insignificant number of Orthodox Jews who have no problem with same sex marriage as US law, and have no wish to be in this fight, joining on the side of the bigots because it is starting to look like if they don't, the doorway to legalized anti-semitism is going to open a little wider (and just because it's only aimed at those Jews doesn't make it not anti-religious-Jews in effect if not in intent).

I don't know enough about this law to know what "certain individuals" or organizations they're trying to protect in addition to clergy and houses of worship. I don't understand why any business should be protected - a business isn't a religion and no religion I've ever heard of dictates what businesses people should own. But saying that churches can be forced to marry people sounds like a slippery slope to me. And not how separation of church and state is supposed to work, as I understand it. Someone else's religion shouldn't be allowed to dictate how you live your life, hands down. But I don't think - assuming no other laws are being broken - that gives the government the right to dictate what is or isn't an acceptable religious practice for a church or a rabbi.

The problem is, this requires a level of nuance that I think is impossible in our polarized 2-party no-such-thing-as-grey world. I believe same-sex marriage is a civil right and should have every protection possible. But I can't see my way to completely support the fillibusterers here, either.
posted by Mchelly at 7:32 PM on March 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


I thought the modern filibuster was merely threatening that they had the power to filibuster and then everyone acting as if they had just done so. Or is that only true in the US congress when the republicans do it?

Nonetheless, good on these guys.

And yeah, it makes a ton of sense that the chamber of commerce would be against this bullshit. Because when businesses look to establish a new factory, move their headquarters, et cetera, they certainly take into account their ability to attract talent and convince their existing employees to move to a place. And when a given state has encoded into law discrimination, its pretty much a no-brainer that its not the state to move your business to.
posted by el io at 7:33 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


So Dow Chemical has a pretty adorbs marriage equity photo in its tweet opposing the legislation.

Decent BuzzFeed article summarizing.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:34 PM on March 8, 2016


and no religion I've ever heard of dictates what businesses people should own.

Seriously?
posted by Jahaza at 7:38 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


and no religion I've ever heard of dictates what businesses people should own.

I do recall something about how Islam prohibits usury, at least to other Muslims.
posted by qcubed at 7:39 PM on March 8, 2016


Seriously?

Maybe you understood me? Or maybe I'm not picturing the obvious exception(s) you see so clearly? I don't know of any religion saying "people must own shops" or "People must be doctors", etc. There are probably things a religion says that its members can't do, but then the reasonable action would be to choose a career that doesn't involve that thing. If the law changes and you have to choose between your job and your religion, you choose one. If that means you have to get another job, that doesn't stop you from keeping your religion. It would feel pretty unfair, but it isn't religious discrimination. Even the pretty-broad religious protection laws in the US say that you can refuse to hire someone religious if they cannot do the work required of the job - employers only have to make reasonable accommodations.
posted by Mchelly at 7:45 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'd like to send them pizza if anyone can help give info.
posted by rr at 7:49 PM on March 8, 2016


If the law changes and you have to choose between your job and your religion, you choose one. If that means you have to get another job, that doesn't stop you from keeping your religion. It would feel pretty unfair, but it isn't religious discrimination.

So just to be clear then, a law that said Jews couldn't be doctors, lawyers, or university professors wouldn't be religious discrimination?
posted by Jahaza at 7:52 PM on March 8, 2016


You've got it backwards, Jahaza. She's saying if you're Kim Davis and the law changes so that county clerk's must issue gay marriage certificates, that's not religious discrimination; Davis is free to keep her job and comply with the law, or quit her job because she cannot in conscience comply with a law that conflicts with her religious beliefs. But there is no religion that says, "Thou shalt be a county clerk" or "Thou shalt be a baker." Many religions forbid certain types of work, but none affirmatively insists you can only do one type of work.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:57 PM on March 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


Mchelly, I feel like you are getting your information (informing this earlier comment) from some alternate universe in which 1) churches and synagogues can be forced to officiate any weddings at all, and 2) there are gangs of militant atheists hoping to shut down any individual congregation they can, and using lawsuits to do so.

Both of these things, as far as I can tell, are fabrications, but especially and certainly the former.

Unless I'm mistaken, churches face no legal repercussions for refusing to marry black couples or interracial couples or any couple whatsoever. Because to force a church to officiate any wedding, whether gay or straight, would be a violation of the US constitution.

Here's an AskMe from a few years back about that very question.

Maybe you're getting this confused with state officials not having the right to deny marriage certificates?
posted by nobody at 8:00 PM on March 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


How many of these bills are currently floating around in state houses right now? I think this is the latest from Georgia:

Nathan Deal makes a forceful, biblical case against Georgia’s ‘religious liberty’ bill.
posted by goHermGO at 8:03 PM on March 8, 2016


The problem is, this requires a level of nuance that I think is impossible in our polarized 2-party no-such-thing-as-grey world. I believe same-sex marriage is a civil right and should have every protection possible. But I can't see my way to completely support the fillibusterers here, either.

As I see it, the real problem is the usual disingenuousness and dishonesty of the regressives, claiming they will be forced to perform same-gender marriage services, which couldn't happen before equality rulings and cannot happen now. They are lying about their reasons for pushing this sort of legislation.

The real point of this legislation is to deny same-gender couples access to the same goods and services as mixed-gender couples. It is a way to starve us out of every day society so that we either stay in the closet, keep to ourselves in our own communities, or despair so much that we kill ourselves.

The filibusterers, I think, are saying "yeah okay if your entire job at a given moment is to oversee the creation of a legal partnership, maybe you get to recuse yourself if you don't believe in it," which isn't entirely unreasonable, while also saying "but yeah if you sell cakes you are therefore a public service kinda thing, and you don't get to discriminate for any reason, sorry. get over it."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:06 PM on March 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


"But saying that churches can be forced to marry people sounds like a slippery slope to me. "

Mchelly, literally no laws say that. Strong First Amendment protections for ministers have ALWAYS held that they can't be forced to perform weddings they disagree with for religious or ethical reasons, EVEN IF we as a society agree their reasons are abhorrent. (For example, individual ministers remain free to refuse to preside over interracial weddings.)

This law is really aimed at protecting so-called " bigot bakers" who want to operate with the legal protections of a business but not provide equal service to all customers. That's a different thing than forcing a minister to perform a marriage.

They're stupid laws because ministers and congregations clearly can't be forced to perform marriage ceremonies - the litigant would be laughed out of court - and they're really just intended to give cover to corporations who want to apply the owner's personal beliefs to his corporate product.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:07 PM on March 8, 2016 [19 favorites]


Personally, I'd be ok with a law that says individual churches and other religious institutions have a right to be bigoted on this issue (because we already have such a law in the First Amendment anyway, and it's bad policy and impractical for the government to tell religious leaders what rites they must perform), but bakers and invitation-makers and such have to follow anti-discrimination laws and do their damn jobs.

But the whole "religious liberty" argument is a smokescreen. What these folks really want is to turn the clock back and put up new barriers against gay marriage. And the reason for that is that religion has long been a protected class, yet no chaos has broken out. Under current law, Christian bakers could already be penalized for refusing to provide a wedding cake for a Muslim couple and the world hasn't come to an end.
posted by zachlipton at 8:26 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


This sort of legislation is usually also a back door to help religious hospitals and universities avoid paying benefits to same-sex spouses of employees, but the Missouri law here is really pretty narrowly drafted to apply just to the wedding itself, so it's protecting bigot bakers and commercial venues, and that's really it.

Literally everything about protecting clergy from being forced to perform marriages is a lie intended to confuse and deceive so that you won't look past the smokescreen of fake religious liberty concerns to the actual legislative goal of protecting businesses run by bigots from having to comply with equal protection laws. The lawmakers who drafted this absolutely 100% know clergy cannot be forced to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. They are trying to confuse and upset you so that you will help them create the smokescreen for bigoted business.

And to their credit most big corporations want zero to do with this. Because it's BAD business. But if you can't stop the gays from getting married, at least you can "protect" a few small bakers and florists and venues run by people who love their religion ever so slightly less than they love making money and who don't want to be inconvenienced by having to choose between God and Mammon.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:28 PM on March 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


My point was just that while I can understand a need for protections to houses of worship and clergy from punitive lawsuits, I don't see how businesses or "certain individuals" fall under the same need for protection from laws that protect same-sex marriage (or abortion rights, or blood transfusions for kids, to name a few more).

nobody, and Eyebrows, I totally agree. It isn't happening now and I mostly believe it never will. I am saying that is the fear that is causing some groups to get behind bills like these when they shouldn't have a dog in the fight. And there are absolutely people - people with whom I generally agree - who would love for that to happen, because things like forbidding interracial marriage on religious grounds is abhorrent. Why should it be protected?

I don't want to take on all comers here, and I wasn't trying to defend the bill. One of the most amazing things about all the strides we've made in civil rights is that it opens up questions like these, and makes the once-unaskable a reasonable topic for discussion.
posted by Mchelly at 8:33 PM on March 8, 2016


My point was just that while I can understand a need for protections to houses of worship and clergy from punitive lawsuits

There is no such need because they are already protected in the United States by the First Amendment.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:37 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Which is the entire point. They're using the lie that they aren't protected in order to justify legally empowering literally everyone to refuse business to people who belong to gender and/or sexual minorities.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:38 PM on March 8, 2016


But if you can't stop the gays from getting married, at least you can "protect" a few small bakers and florists and venues run by people who love their religion ever so slightly less than they love making money and who don't want to be inconvenienced by having to choose between God and Mammon.

This is just nonsense. It's not some minor inconvenience for a florist, or a baker, or a caterer to have to give up their business.

and they're really just intended to give cover to corporations who want to apply the owner's personal beliefs to his corporate product.

You seem to have trouble deciding whether it's corporations or not.

"but yeah if you sell cakes you are therefore a public service kinda thing, and you don't get to discriminate for any reason, sorry. get over it."

Yeah, except religion is not some minor thing with no material consequences. There's a vast infrastructure of business that works to supply religious needs. It's not reasonable to require that all to turn into a gift economy.
posted by Jahaza at 8:38 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Regarding the concern of punitive lawsuits, Missouri already has a law against frivolous litigation that, like most states, allows the sued party to recover attorneys fees and other costs from the party who brought the frivolous suit.

Also, IMO, the proper way to deal with such ridiculous lawsuits is for the judge to slap the attorney who filed it with sanctions for filing in bad faith. Judges don't sanction attorneys nearly often enough for that kind of nonsense, which is a waste of judicial time and taxpayer money.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:43 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is just nonsense. It's not some minor inconvenience for a florist, or a baker, or a caterer to have to give up their business.

A florist or a baker or a caterer already, right now, under the laws we've had for decades, can't discriminate on the basis of race or religion, among other protected classes. If you're a baker and you have a problem baking a cake for an interracial couple or for a couple of Religion X, you already have to choose between giving up your business and doing your job. Due to a long history of discrimination against LGBT people, sexual orientation has, in a number of places, been added to the list of protected classes, meaning that refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple would be the same as refusing to bake a cake for an interracial couple. That's the protection we're talking about rolling back here.
posted by zachlipton at 8:44 PM on March 8, 2016 [20 favorites]


This is just nonsense. It's not some minor inconvenience for a florist, or a baker, or a caterer to have to give up their business.

Going into business means agreeing to abide by the laws which govern businesses. Those laws include the pretty simple notion that you may not discriminate. If you do not wish to obey the law, that is your own damn problem, and it is likewise your own damn problem when you have to go out of business because the rest of us say "no, you may not discriminate. Sell to everybody or to nobody."


Yeah, except religion is not some minor thing with no material consequences. There's a vast infrastructure of business that works to supply religious needs. It's not reasonable to require that all to turn into a gift economy.


Gift economy? What are you on about? Business providers must operate their businesses without discriminating against their clientele. This is neither a new concept nor a difficult one.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:44 PM on March 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


"It's not some minor inconvenience for a florist, or a baker, or a caterer to have to give up their business. "

It's NOT a minor inconvenience but it is a choice that sincerely religious people make EVERY DAY, to remove themselves from participating in a part of the culture when they cannot in conscience do so. Having watched people withdraw from secular culture to fairly extreme levels (involved as I am with many ministers of different faiths) I find it hard to take seriously a baker who won't comply with the law, quit baking, or just stop doing wedding cakes. But the wedding cakes are the high profit part of the business and they don't want to give that bit up. It's hard for me to take that seriously as religion ... That's just commerce with some personal opinions thrown on top. They're not serious enough about their faith to make the hard choices, or even the easy choices that might cost them a little money, like being a florist who doesn't do weddings.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:53 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Gift economy? What are you on about? Business providers must operate their businesses without discriminating against their clientele. This is neither a new concept nor a difficult one.

Except it is precisely a new concept that laws would require them to provide goods and services for same-sex marriages.

Gift economy?

I have in front of me on my desk custom printed prayer cards done by the monks of Conception Abbey who operate Printery House, a Missouri business that provides goods and services including custom printing for religious purposes. Their work is both a service to their broader religious community and part of the means of support for their monastery and seminary. You'd put them in a situation where they could not print on a commercial basis for religious customers without also having to print for anyone who sought their services. So if they wanted to continue printing as a service to the religious community, they couldn't do it as a business, but only as a gift.

Similarly with thousands of other commercial suppliers of religious needs: vestment makers, candle makers, church musicians, visual artists. They'd either have to be willing to take all customers no matter their beliefs or give up working in exchange for money.
posted by Jahaza at 8:54 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Uh, yes? If you cannot operate your business in accordance with the very simple law that you may not discriminate, then I have zero sympathy whatsoever when you go out of business.

Could all these poor persecuted religious folks you cite refuse to serve people of colour?

And if not, why is serving queer people any different?

I'll save you time: it's not different.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:58 PM on March 8, 2016 [15 favorites]



Jahaza: " They'd either have to be willing to take all customers no matter their beliefs"

Well, ya. That's what being in business means.
posted by Mitheral at 8:59 PM on March 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


Printery House is a terrible example because they ALSO have First Amendment press rights to print or not print what they choose. Vestment makers sell to the general market and there is no quiz on whether you REALLY need vestments or you're buying them for a tacky Halloween costume. Candlemakers similarly just sell the goods by catalog. Religious supply catalogs are happy to sell you whatever you're after; there's no religious test and they don't inquire as to your purpose.

Church musicians and artists are generally hired directly as contractors and aren't corporate entities selling to the general public. They are typically free to pick and choose the commissions they are interested in.

A lot of winemakers sell exclusively directly to churches and synagogues, but they'll usually sell you a couple bottles if you ask and their license allows it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:03 PM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't understand why any business should be protected - a business isn't a religion and no religion I've ever heard of dictates what businesses people should own.

I concur that the bakers' religion doesn't give them the right to subordinate other people's engagement in public life, but I don't agree with this argument at all: you might as well say that no religion dictates where people should live.

The fact that people may operate a different business doesn't mean that they aren't harmed if the law prevents them from operating the business they choose, particularly if they have already invested their time and money in the business from which they are now excluded. Orthodox Jews, for instance, are burdened by Sunday trading laws; some of those laws look to me as though they were suspiciously closely fitted to Jewish merchants' particular circumstances (see Gallagher v. Crown Kosher Super Market of Mass., Inc., 366 US 617 - Supreme Court 1961).

Incidentally, according to US legal scholar David Schraub, "in the entire history of the United States — from 1789 to 2009 — Jews have never once won a Free Exercise case before the Supreme Court." It is remarkable that the profound and admirable degree of religious liberty enjoyed in the USA is almost entirely due to benevolent legislatures, and not judicial fiat.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:10 PM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


For all your vestment and sacred vessel needs ... Easter candles, hosts, 4' wall crucifixes, stations of the Cross ... It is all there, easy as Amazon, available to all customers, for your religious or blasphemous needs.

(I have friends who run a big religious supply house and they say the prices of the real stuff mostly puts off people who'd love to blaspheme for $100 but aren't going to put $1300 into getting clergy garments to defile. They do get a lot of movie and theater people, though, and a slow but steady stream of medieval reenactors.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:21 PM on March 8, 2016


If you're a baker and you have a problem baking a cake for an interracial couple or for a couple of Religion X, you already have to choose between giving up your business and doing your job.

There are other remedies to bigoted bakers that don't want to write on their cakes "John and Joe, happy Anniversary", or bakers that don't want to put two women or two men on top of their cakes... That solution is to have a policy to not write things on cakes, and have a policy not to provide wedding toppers; customers have to do that themselves.

But honestly, what the bakers want is the privilege to say 'we won't serve those people'. And the moment we let bakers make that decision, why can't plumbers say 'no, I don't fix the pipes for gay people' or gas stations to say 'I don't sell gas to gay people'.

What business are free to do is put a sign up on their door that says "I am a bigot"; but they still must serve those that they are bigoted against.

And honestly, I wish bigot businesses would put up such signs so I can avoid them.
posted by el io at 9:25 PM on March 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Except it is precisely a new concept that laws would require them to provide goods and services for same-sex marriages.

Are you happy to make this argument in defence of a right to discriminate on the basis of race?
posted by howfar at 9:26 PM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm partial to Catholictothemaxs':
Download Jesus Hoodie.
And would happily serve cake to any customer donning said apperal.
posted by clavdivs at 10:43 PM on March 8, 2016


Are you happy to make this argument in defence of a right to discriminate on the basis of race?

I'm interested to note that the people defending the right to discriminate against gays have been refusing to answer that very simple question. Or to say if a baker can put a "No Jews" policy into effect. Come on guys, we're waiting!!

I'll also note that Mchelly's "won't someone think of the Orthodox!" argument ALSO can be turned to say that a Protestant Chamber of Commerce should have the right to ban Jews from membership. I'm not sure Mchelly actually thought through the implications.
posted by happyroach at 12:21 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


There are such things as Protestant Chambers of Commerce, but they disguise themselves as things like church supporters' clubs. Also, I don't think anyone is going to claim that a Chamber of Commerce is performing a religious ritual by signing people up.

This is all a bit of a red herring, though. I understand that clergy who perform marriages are really doing two things: performing a religious ritual (over which the State exercises no control), and subsequently filling out a form that satisfies the State's requirements that a marriage has been performed. Lots of religious functionaries aren't registered for the second step, so you need to go along to a government office and get registered if they "marry" you. If rabbis (priests, imams, whatever) don't want to offer this latter service on the State's terms they're welcome to decline the invitation; they can still offer the ritual part of a religious marriage – and in the eyes of Judaism (the Church, Islam, etc.) I understand that this is generally the only bit that counts.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:59 AM on March 9, 2016


goHermGO: “How many of these bills are currently floating around in state houses right now? I think this is the latest from Georgia:

Nathan Deal makes a forceful, biblical case against Georgia’s ‘religious liberty’ bill.”
It's a fool's errand, but they're still trying to find a "compromise" that will satisfy the… people …who elected them but won't cause the entertainment and tech industries to boycott the state. If Georgia legislators actually wanted to do some good for the state and its people, they'd pass legislation providing broad civil rights protections that would include the LGBT Georgians who have been at the vanguard of the movement.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:42 AM on March 9, 2016


Vestment makers sell to the general market and there is no quiz on whether you REALLY need vestments or you're buying them for a tacky Halloween costume.

LDS definitely has a religious test to purchase temple garments and other ceremonial clothing.
posted by ryanrs at 2:51 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was about to post the same article ob1quixote just posted. They're trying to pull this bullshit in Georgia, but I don't think it's going to work. There's too much money coming into the state via the film industry, and they want those sweet, sweet dollars.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:36 AM on March 9, 2016


I don't really understand the idea that Orthodox congregations would be sued for refusing to marry gay couples. Many (most, I think) Jewish congregations refuse to marry interfaith couples. That includes a lot of Reform synagogues. My parents' shul would be delighted to host the wedding of two Jews who were the same gender, but they won't allow an interfaith wedding. That's a source of considerable annoyance, particularly given that the ship has kind of sailed on intermarriage among Reform Jews, but as far as I know nobody is lobbying for a law to protect discrimination against interfaith couples, and there haven't been a raft of frivolous lawsuits claiming discrimination. I don't understand why this would be different.

And if Orthodox Jews are worried that other Jews have issues with them, I don't think that this is a good way to deal with it. By supporting institutionalized bigotry, they reinforce the idea that they're oppressive and out-of-step with the rest of the Jewish community.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:43 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Mchelly - up in Canada, there are almost no liberal rabbis who are willing to conduct an interfaith marriage (same sex is just fine) -- and no one is suing them, and no one has any grounds to sue them.

None of the laws can compel religions from conducting marriages they don't believe in. Rabbis and Catholic priests can continue to refuse to conduct interfaith marriages. A religious ceremony isn't (strictly) a service that is bought or sold.

But if a synagogue or church owns, for example, a gazebo that they happily rent out to other secular events, then they shouldn't be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples.
posted by jb at 6:05 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


As I see it, the real problem is the usual disingenuousness and dishonesty of the regressives, claiming they will be forced to perform same-gender marriage services, which couldn't happen before equality rulings and cannot happen now. They are lying about their reasons for pushing this sort of legislation.

Lucky for them Judeo-Christianity has no commandment against lying.
posted by Gelatin at 7:24 AM on March 9, 2016


Actually, one can take the one about not bearing false witness against one's neighbor as a general prohibition about lying.

As someone who can look out his window and see the Capitol where this is taking place, I honestly can believe that some of the supportive lawmakers may very well earnestly believe that it's just a matter of time before a judge orders their Pentecostal preacher to marry two men or two women. We're not Kansas, but we do share a border.
posted by Atreides at 7:53 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, I don't think anyone is going to claim that a Chamber of Commerce is performing a religious ritual by signing people up.

It's as much a religious ritual as baking a cake. I'd appreciate it if proponents of discrimination would stop trying to obfuscate the issue.

If, as people here claim, a business entity or organization has the right to discriminate on religious grounds against gay people, then it also has the right to discriminate against say, interracial or Jews. I have yet to see ANY argument to the contrary, you just keep harping on gay couples .
posted by happyroach at 8:16 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Actually, one can take the one about not bearing false witness against one's neighbor as a general prohibition about lying.

Sorry, sarcasm fail. I quite agree; my point is that these so-called "sincere religious beliefs" apparently don't include observing said commandment against lying.
posted by Gelatin at 8:17 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Republicans voted to end the filibuster and gave the proposal preliminary approval, 23-9, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:28 AM on March 9, 2016


Well fuck
posted by odinsdream at 10:06 AM on March 9, 2016


Anti-discrimination laws would not be properly applied to churches who refuse to marry gay people. It follows that laws protecting these churches also are not appropriate. Laws requiring counties to issue marriage licenses to qualified individuals are proper, and the relevant civil codes are properly supported by certain non-discriminatory clauses. Church marriages are not a legal requirement anywhere.

This proposed law (SJR-39) is more cynical than ridiculous, and it's fangs are buried in the non-secular clauses, inoculating individuals and businesses from anti-discriminatory regulation in a non-religious context. We are not supposed to be making laws respecting religions, though exceptions are made for certain activities of cults and Kool-Aid venders.

This law should be defeated for legal reasons, not humanitarian ones.

I know this isn't a tit for tat situation; however, if anyone wishes to take on stupid and unfair church practices I'd rather they take on the Billy Graham Crusade Corporation or the Oral Roberts Combine (or any, or several, of these charlatans), and see about returning some of their riches to the families of those whose resources were vacuumed into God's coffers on the pretext that the more money they gave, the sooner their illnesses would be cured.

Lot's of luck on any of that.
posted by mule98J at 10:42 AM on March 9, 2016


So, interestingly, there is a fairly major US DoD component currently in the late stages of the process of selecting a site for a new complex in the St. Louis area. One of the potential sites is adjacent to Scott Air Force Base, on the Illinois side of the river, but at least three other sites are under consideration on the Missouri side. If this passes, I'd be willing to bet that a non-zero amount of hay could be made over the atmospherics of the US Dept. of Defense (that did away with DADT) bringing the revenue generated by the complex and its employees to a state with plainly grotesque law that protects the discrimination against GLBT folks.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 11:54 AM on March 9, 2016


The Missouri proposal for the sites was really half-assed; news reports say the Illinois proposal was a lot better. Missouri may already have done itself in on that one (the GOP legislature was apparently not enthusiastic about infrastructure outlays to bring the installation in).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:32 PM on March 9, 2016


Jahaza: "So just to be clear then, a law that said Jews couldn't be doctors, lawyers, or university professors wouldn't be religious discrimination?"

I would say it takes two to tango. There must be both a secular law and a religious law that requires two different things from a person. Suppose there were a secular law that required a doctor to be uncircumcised and eat large quantities of pork. The avenue to pursue there is whether that's a valid requirement for being a doctor, which it almost certainly is not.

On the other hand, suppose you had a surgeon who was a Jehova's Witness, and was opposed to blood transfusions. There you could make a better case that it's relevant to the job.

There have been cases with Muslim taxi drivers and truck drivers refusing to transport alcohol. I think the truck drivers won their case and the taxi drivers did not. It was seen as a “reasonable accommodation” for the truck drivers' employers to assign trucks of alcohol to other drivers. But taxi cabs are seen as public accommodations and so taxi drivers are not given as much freedom to pick and choose their passengers.

In Canada, back in the day, there was a bit of a kerfuffle over the matter of whether wearing a turban was against the dress code of the RCMP. It was eventually decided that this was not a restriction that was necessary for the job.
posted by RobotHero at 4:57 PM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


To clarify my "two to tango" comment, the religious requirements for Jews are usually easy enough to accommodate that to make a secular law that excluded them would be more obviously unreasonable.

Now in this case then, we're apparently discussing people who wish to decline to, "provide goods or services of expressional or artistic creation for such a marriage or ceremony or an ensuing celebration thereof," on the basis of exactly which marriage is being celebrated.

I snipped the "participant in a marriage or wedding ceremony" from the start of that quote. As shown with inter-racial marriage, there's no great danger of being forced to participate in the ceremony. So we're really only talking about people selling goods and services. People whose religious laws are apparently so restrictive they can't even sell goods and services to other people who are going to do something with it they don't approve of. In which case is it fair to blame the secular law for their inability to pursue this line of work?
posted by RobotHero at 7:08 PM on March 9, 2016


Every time religious folk propose backwards, hate-filled, discriminatory legislation like this, I picture them holding hands and singing, "They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love."
posted by xedrik at 10:14 PM on March 9, 2016


Here's the catchphrase, though, "Hate the sin, love the sinners." They will profess to have no hard feelings at all about the people who want a cake for their marriage, but don't like the marriage, itself. They don't see themselves as being awful to these customers because it's nothing personal. In fact, they love them as people, as their faith commands. (That's a popular belief, I've seen...and then there's also just the bigots along for the ride.)
posted by Atreides at 7:21 AM on March 10, 2016


The "love the sinner hate the sin" (puuuuuuuuke) people are just bigots too, though.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:20 AM on March 10, 2016


Yeah, but they don't consciously accept it. The end effect is the same, sure, but it's how many Evangelical Christians can think their way through this type of legislation. Not to mention, they see it as a protective measure for their own freedom of worship, not as a restriction on another class of individuals. None of this is a defense of that behavior, but it's a finer understanding of what's going through their minds.
posted by Atreides at 11:14 AM on March 10, 2016


"Hate the sin, love the sinner" and being anti-SSM are easy to reconcile if you look at it as hating past sins -- that is, you forgiven people for things they used to do but don't anymore, because that means they're repentant and therefore deserving of love. It fits nicely into the American conservative philosophy that it's better that 99 people who need something don't get it than one person gets over on the system.
posted by Etrigan at 11:50 AM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I get that, Atreides, but as a gay dude I give precisely zero fucks about what they think or why or how they justify their foul bigotry to themselves. They are bigots and I have neither the need nor the desire to gain a "finer understanding" of exactly why they do what they do, because what they do requires only knowing that they are wrong, and they can get the fuck out of my way while I try to live my life free of their disgusting hatred.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:53 PM on March 10, 2016


After further reading on my part, I learn there was a case with a wedding photographer which is what confirms for me that photographers can be considered public accommodations.

I could maybe be convinced that certain "creative" services could be excluded from public accommodation laws, or we should more narrowly define what counts as "soliciting from the general public" and thus counts the business as a public accommodation. But carving out an exception for opposition to gay marriage is itself a 1st amendment violation. It explicitly gives certain religious beliefs privileges that other beliefs do not receive.
posted by RobotHero at 2:07 PM on March 12, 2016


Holy crap some of the precedents in that brief are horrific. Like Brooks vs. Collins foods (restaurant employees greeted white customers and not black); in 2005!

This is a good summary:
Elane Photography argues that — unlike businesses that provide “non-expressive” services — Elane Photography can never surrender autonomy over its photography services because photography is a creative profession requiring editorial discretion and artistic judgment. But that argument confuses the distinction between an artist who sells photographs and an artist who sells her services as a photographer for hire. This case would be different if Elaine Huguenin were an independent photographer who took pictures of subjects that interested her -~ say various wedding scenes —- and then offered those pictures for sale. Under those circumstances, Elane Huguenin would retain complete autonomy over her own self-expression, and potential subjects of her photographs could not bring an antidiscrimination claim to force her to take more pictures with African-Americans, or Jewish wedding scenes, or weddings for same-sex couples. Elane Photography, however, offers a different commercial service. Instead of selling photographs, Elane Photography offers its services as a photographer for hire. Although the customer does not control every detail of each individual photograph, the photographs are taken at the direction and request of the customer.

Once it agrees to take photographs on behalf of some customers from the general public as part of a commercial service, Elane Photography cannot claim an autonomy interest in refusing to take photographs for other customers on a discriminatory basis.

posted by Mitheral at 7:09 PM on March 12, 2016


Wouldn't carving out an exception for black or racially-intermarried couples also be a 1st amendment violation? Where do you stop?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:12 PM on March 12, 2016


What I mean is they would have to go all-or-nothing. Either wedding photographers can refuse anyone for any reason, no matter how despicable that reason, or they are obliged to abide by non-discrimination laws. By singling out same-sex marriage as the only legitimate reason to refuse, the law would favour religions that oppose same-sex marriage.
posted by RobotHero at 10:37 PM on March 12, 2016


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