Ohio is a great model for the nation. Though a swing state, we are trending more red than purple. Religious freedom flourishes and yet we maintain the sixth largest LGBTQ population and the largest of any of our contiguous states. Diversity and tolerance already exist here. No legislation needed. We don’t all agree but we do live here peaceably in the heart of it all. That’s the way it should be. Current legislation threatens that stability.
Threats to Civil Liberties
The United States House of Representatives just passed the so-called Equality Act (HR 5). Here in Ohio, many are pushing for similar legislation under the heading of The Fairness Act (SB 11). Legislators seem to have a gift for naming legislation for the exact opposite of what it is designed to accomplish. This legislation is neither fair nor equitable and threatens to stifle our civil liberties.
In the civilized world, there will always be a diversity of religious views, cultural practices, and personal viewpoints. This is what we affectionately call freedom. This current legislation attempts to fix a system that is not broken and will ultimately threaten both equality and fairness by imposing artificial standards on real people. The end result will be increased litigation, less freedom, and greater hostility.
Artificial standards are incapable of increasing real equality. The major litigation that has found its way to the Supreme Court has originated in states that have imposed arbitrary standards of equality known as SOGI legislation (Sexual Orientation Gender Identity). The case of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado is a fine example. Even left leaning justices found that Jack Philip’s civil rights had in fact been violated by the very institution designed to protect civil rights.
In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court found that “The Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s actions in assessing a cakeshop owner’s reasons for declining to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding celebration violated the free exercise clause. ” Now Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat controlled congress proposes more of the same.
Women will Suffer
We are celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage this year! This legislation will set women back decades. Title IX was designed to provide equality in women’s sports. But in states where so-called equality and fairness doctrines apply, women can’t even be the best women anymore. Men are.
Selina Soule was the fastest girl at the Connecticut State Track Championships last June. However, she walked away with a third-place trophy because Connecticut civil rights laws permitted two biological males to compete as females. Title IX protections failed to help Selina under these circumstances. Listen to the disappointment in her voice as she tells her story of inequality.
Small Businesses will Suffer
Most Christian business owners have no ill will towards those whose lifestyles do not reflect their biblical values. They routinely interact with people who identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ community. They carry on polite and meaningful conversations and frequently collaborate on unrelated projects. That’s the way it ought to be.
Despite what the media might have you believe, they don’t ask for proof of sexual orientation prior to providing services. Want a cake? No problem. Need some flowers? You got it. The problem never has been with serving gay people. That is a media myth. The problem they encounter is when they are asked to personally validate a behavior and express a view that is contrary to their firmly held religious beliefs. It is worth noting in the video above that Jack Phillips not only declined to make a cake for a same-sex wedding but would also decline to create a cake that would be disparaging of the LGBT community. He states frequently that he serves all people but does not create cakes for all events.
Budding entrepreneurs like Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski faced fines of $2500 a day and six months in jail after they launched Brush and Nib, a calligraphy and hand painting business. So called equality laws in Phoenix demanded that they create artistic works that violated their religious beliefs. They had no problem providing general services to people in the LGBTQ community. But when asked to use their artistic talents to create invitations to a same-sex wedding ceremony, they felt that they could not do so and honor God’s direction concerning human sexuality at the same time.
Religious Freedom will Suffer
I have enjoyed healthy discussions both in Columbus and on Capitol Hill regarding this issue. The Democratic retort is simply that when it comes to the market place, we must surrender our religious liberty at the door. In the “public arena,” small business owners lose their liberties in favor of so-called non-discrimination. Somehow the irony of that idea is lost on them.
According to the First Amendment, our religious views are not limited to houses of worship, our homes, or the approval of the legislature. Congress has no authority to compel the speech or expression of any individual at any time, anywhere. The government does not have the right to limit a person’s ability to earn a living based on which ideas they will and will not advocate for. The right to own and operate a business is not contingent upon the requirement to affirm ideas contrary to one’s firmly held religious beliefs.
There is no such thing as a free society that compels the speech of an individual in contrast to their firmly held beliefs. It matters not which side of the culture you find yourself on. Everyone should be offended when the government attempts to compel speech of any kind. I would be equally offended if unbelievers were required to recite the Lord’s Prayer or same sex couples to affirm biblical marriage.
Believe it or not, the solution already exists. It is embedded in our Constitution. It was so important that it made its way to the top of the Bill of Rights and is easily recognized as the First Amendment.
America was never intended to be a monolithic nation. Diversity is in our DNA. We are free to be critical and expect to receive criticism in return. This is a place where people challenge each others ideas. We dispute over values. We can shout our beliefs from the housetops…even if we are wrong. I can promote my faith and others can reject it. I cannot compel others to believe and neither can I be compelled to deny my belief. That’s America.
I began this article observing how I believe that we have it pretty good here in Ohio. Faith abounds but so does the LGBTQ community. We compete in the marketplace of ideas but we can still live as neighbors and act civilly towards one another. We can even love each other and often do. Sometimes the status quo is the solution. I was always told, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s not broke. The proposed “solutions” are divisive and destructive.
The Fairness Act and the Equality Act seem more like pieces of legislation designed to discriminate against the faith community. They impose one view of human sexuality upon the whole of society. That is the definition of intolerance. While it is not my practice to act in hostility towards my neighbors whose views contrast with mine, I am compelled to defend my liberty and that of my neighbors. Freedom of speech must be protected. Small business owners should never be forced to choose between their livelihood and their religion and women should not lose their equality in a misguided attempt at diversity.
Open minded people must recognize that the Fairness Act is not fair and the Equality Act fails in terms of equality. These pieces of legislation are neither about fairness nor equality. They proactively discriminate against biological women, small businesses, and people of faith. This is not acceptable.