A rapidly growing series of conflicts over religious freedom/liberty:
Conflicts involving members of the LGBT
seeking wedding goods and services.
The term "LGBT" refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual community.
With increasing numbers of the LGBT community coming out of the closet -- and in particular since so many U.S. states have attained marriage equality, -- isolated instances of conflicts have arisen -- typically between gays and lesbians seeking products and services from local companies and retail outlets and being refused. Most company owners don't like to turn down business. However by late 2013, there have been perhaps a dozen instances where refusals have taken place. To our knowledge all of the dozen or so refusals that we have noticed in the media have been by religious or social conservatives.
There are seven or so "clobber passages" in the Bible that are often seen as referring to same-gender sexual activity. Many religious or social conservatives interpret these passages as condemning all same-gender sexual behavior by lesbians, gays and bisexuals. On the other hand, many religious or social liberals/progressives interpret the same passages as referring to:
- same-gender rape,
- having sex with prostitutes in Pagan temples,
- two men engaged in sex in a woman's bed,
- men sexually abusing boys,
- heterosexual men and women going against their basic nature and engaging in sex with persons of the same-sex, and
- men engaging in bestiality with angels, who are of a non-human species.
Liberals often deny that the Bible says anything about loving, committed same-sex relationships. The Bible does describes three emotionally close relationships between pairs of people of the
same gender. They appear to have progressed well beyond a casual friendship. There is,
however, no unmistakable evidence that they were sexually active relationships. The
individuals are: Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, and Daniel and Ashpenaz.
Social and religious conservatives are in a difficult position if they wish to deny goods and services to same-sex couples. They are being pulled in five directions:
- Don't discriminate: Most states have a human rights code that prohibit "public accomodations" from discriminating against customers on the basis of their skin color, race, gender, religion, etc. Often sexual orientation and gender identity are included. A "public accomodation" is a store or business that provides goods and services to the general public. Wedding photographers, wedding cake bakers, companies that rent facilities for marriages or receiptions, etc. are typical. The human rights code creates a tribunal that evaluates complaints and often assigns significant fines if the code has been violated.
- Don't discriminate: The Golden Rule as taught by Jesus and all of the major religious of the world is a major consideration. It says that one should treat others as one wishes to be treated. That presumably does not include refusing service to customers.
- Discriminate: As mentioned above, many social and religious conservatives believe that God strongly disapproves of same-gender sexual behavior. The belief that sexually active gays and lesbians will spend eternity in the torture chambers of Hell is common; conservatives don't want to encourage such behavior. To do so would make them partly responsible for the horrendous future facing the LGBT community.
- Discriminate: Many conservatives are concerned that if a state accepts homosexual behavior -- and in particular if it attains marriage equality -- that God may send tornados, earthquakes, famine, droubt, or some other natural disaster as punishment. The Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament) contains many such stories.
- Don't discriminate: The business owners often worry about the effect on their business traffic if they refuse to offer services to same-sex couples. Actually in some cases, businesses has been greatly increased as many conservative customers preferentially deal with stores and companies that actively discriminate.
Webmaster's comment: bias alert:
We have never seen any discussion of the Golden Rule factor by any conservative web site discussing conflicts by public accomodations, or by web sites by conservative legal defense groups. It is simply off their radar. I personally wish that states named their human rights laws "Golden Rule Legislation" to highlight their connection to the teachings of all world religions.
Topics covered in this section:
- Who are most commonly involved in the conflicts? The conflict between Elane Photography and a same-sex couple in New Mexico
- The Elane Photography conflict (Continued)
- The Elane Photography conflict (Concluded)
Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2013-DEC-14
Latest update: 2013-DEC-15
Author: B.A. Robinson