Opponents of Referendum 74, the ballot measure that would legalize gay marriage in Washington State, are correct when they argue that church groups and individuals who disagree with gay marriage could find themselves facing stiff legal sanctions.

Supporters of the measure have embarked on a slick, well-funded propaganda campaign in an effort to convince Washington voters that gay marriage is the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel.

Part of that effort includes assurances that the referendum “protects the rights of clergy, churches, and religious organizations that don't perform or recognize same-sex marriages.”

But those assurances ring hollow when examined through the lens of history.

It is true the referendum specifically says the law would “preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.”  But what about everyone else?

Left wing activist judges and unaccountable, unelected “Human Rights” Commissioners have a long history of twisting and perverting the law to silence and intimidate gay marriage opponents.

Consider, for example, the case of Elaine and Jonathan Huegeunin, Christian proprietors of Elane Photography who refused to to take pictures of a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony.

The couple complained to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, who ordered the small Christian company to pay $6,637.94 in attorneys’ fees.

The New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld that decision and declared that gay rights trump religious freedom.  This despite the fact that religious freedom is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Appeals Court Judge Tim Garcia went on to say that states can order Christians to violate their faith if they wish to conduct business.

This is by no means an isolated example.

In January of this year, a New Jersey judge ruled that a church-affiliated organization “violated state discrimination laws when it refused to allow a same-sex union on its own property in 2007.”

Individuals have also come under fire for opposing gay marriage.

In May, boxer Manny Pacquiao was banned from a popular Los Angeles shopping mall for opposing gay marriage, and a Florida teacher who voiced opposition to New York's gay marriage law was suspended from his position.

In voting against Gov. Gregoire's bill, state Senator Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley) cited a New York case where a part-time county clerk lost her job because she felt she could not sign a same-sex ‘marriage’ license shortly after the state legalized gay marriage.

“She found someone else on the premises who was willing to sign it for her, but that was not good enough,” he recalled. “Not only did she lose her job as a court clerk, but upon hearing of her opposition to the legislation redefining marriage, activists began a protest of her rural farm.”

Padden introduced an amendment to protect state workers in Washington from facing the same sanctions, but the amendment was defeated.

“Unfortunately the majority party rejected other important attempts to protect the rights of Washingtonians, as well as an amendment to attach a referendum clause to the measure and put it before voters on the fall ballot. The people of the 4th Legislative District, and all of Washington, deserve the last word on a subject of this magnitude,” he said at the time.

Such incidents are far more common than the so-called “mainstream media” like to admit.

If Referendum 74 passes, these kinds of incidents could easily happen in Washington State.

Supporters of the measure like to say, “live and let live.”

Unless, of course, one opposes gay marriage.  Then it's “Katy bar the door.”

68 Comments

  1. (1 of 2)

    Ah, the modern day gentle bigot, protecting “the peace” like the corrupt sheriff in a Western film, and “loving the sinner, hating the sin” — proclaiming their Christian charity while shooting you in the face. The bullet hole of gross discrimination bespeaks poorly of your so-called love for others.

    1) Elaine and Jonathan Huegeunin

    The courts did not “declare that gay rights trump religious freedom.” What they did, in fact, proclaim was this:

    “Elane Photography’s owners are Christians who believe that marriage is a sacred union of one man and one woman. They also believe that photography is an artistically expressive form of communication and photographing a same-sex commitment ceremony would disobey God and the teachings of the Bible by communicating a message contrary to their religious and personal beliefs. …

    “The mere fact that a business provides a good or service with a recognized expressive element does not allow the business to engage in discriminatory practices…. While Elane Photography does exercise some degree of control over the photographs it is hired to take… this control does not transform the photographs into a message from Elane Photography.”

    The judges continued, “The act of photographing a same-sex ceremony does not express any opinions regarding same-sex commitments, or disseminate a personal message about such ceremonies.”

    http://atheism.about.com/b/2012/06/15/wedding-photographers-cant-discriminate-against-gay-couples.htm

    The courts found that, if Elane Photography’s argument were upheld, exactly the same argument could be used to refuse service to, say, an interracial couple. And if a photography business can do it, why can’t, say, a restaurant, hotel, swimming pool, or other service business? Might want to read up on your history, Joe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws

    Alternatively, they probably could have gotten away with refusing service if they just said, “Sorry, we’re booked up.” They made a point about the issue being one of sexual orientation and that is demeaning and denigrating — and thus, illegal in our country.

    2) Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association

    I need look no further than your own source, the Examiner article you wrote, to show that your argument here is erroneous. “Administrative Law Judge Solomon Metzger said the boardwalk pavilion – an area the Methodist group rents out for weddings – was a public space advertised as a wedding venue with no mention of religious preconditions.”

    http://www.examiner.com/article/nj-judge-says-church-illegally-banned-gay-ceremony-on-its-own-property

    Under Referendum 74, no church would ever be forced to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony. If the church in New Jersey that owned the public pavilion space had not advertised the space as _a public facility_ then they would not have been found in violation of the law. This is a VERY important distinction.

    Again, let’s look at past civil rights scenarios for guidance. If the church, advertising its property as public space, would have refused service to an interracial couple, would that then be justified? Absolutely not. What if they had decided to refuse service to a women’s group, just on the basis that they didn’t like females? Again, they’d find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

    Anti-discrimination laws protect the freedom of EVERYONE. Referendum 74 is a vote for everyone’s freedom to marry. If we disallow gay marriage, for whom else might the whims of the people be depriving rights? America was founded on a singular and remarkable principle: The rights of the individual end where the rights of another begin. The founding fathers of America, being learned in ancient and contemporary philosophy. set out to make a country that puts this notion into practice, and in 240 years, civil rights advocates keep winning victory after victory because of this one idea.

    It’s not “activist judges” — it’s clearminded application of the US Constitution that is finding discriminators in violation of the law.

  2. (2 of 2)

    3) Florida Teacher

    Again, what if his comments had been directed at black people instead of gay people? He would have been — rightly so — considered a pariah and fired from his job. As a nation, we made the very right choice some time ago to protect the rights of people whose circumstances of heritage and genetics has made them who they are. Our country does not uphold discrimination as a value for a very good reason. This applies to government officials, business owners, or anyone offering a service to the public.

    The one place you’ll still be able to be a bigot if R74 passes: Your own opinions. You’ll still be able to gas on about how EEEEVIL gay people are, if that trips your trigger. You’ll still be able to write books, preach sermons, stand on the corner with a sign. If that’s your thing, go for it. You keep going for it, and the public is getting sick of it. With more and more non-religious and non-affiliated people in our nation than ever before, if the purpose of anti-gay speech is to drive away everyone with an ounce of sense from conservative Christian establishments, well, I guess it’s working.

    But here’s the fact: Our country was not founded on Christianity. It was founded on the separation of church and state. America was not made just for Christians. It was made for Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, blacks, whites, hispanics, asians — for anyone who wants to take part in a free country where we believe that, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” is a philosophy worth dying for.

    We fought, bled, and died to free the slaves from Southern bigotry. We fought it again in the courts a hundred years later, along the way giving the right to vote to women. Does anyone think now that those who opposed blacks and women were the “good guys” of the story? NOPE! Sorry Joe, it’s MY SIDE that are the good guys in this story, and your side that are the blackguard villains. (In this story, though, you have the freedom to switch sides!) I guarantee that history will not look kindly upon your movement to discriminate and cause pain to millions of gay Americans, just as they don’t look kindly on those who stood up for Jim Crow and the anti-suffrage movements.

    Without Christianity, NO ONE would have any reason to oppose gay marriage. Thankfully, America has no state church. And in MY church, we believe that being gay is no barrier to the love of God. What about MY religious freedom? What about the religious freedom of MY worship community, that wants to lift up and celebrate the union of committed, loving gay couples just as we do for straight couples? WHO SAID that your conservative church tradition is THE VOICE for Christians in America? WHO SAYS it shouldn’t be this denomination or that one?

    That’s right: No one. You live in America. Love it or leave it, buddy. Like it or not, gay marriage will come to America, as people get fed up, leave conservative church traditions, and realize that, yes, people can get along just fine without you guys. If nothing else, young folks like me will outlive you, and then we can make another step forward in civil rights, just as we always have — one bloody, painful step forward at a time. If that’s how you want it, then I wish you haste on your journey to Sweet Beulah Land.

    Forward freedom!

  3. Give me one good verifiable reason why gay couples should not wed that has nothing to do with Faith. Remember that little thing sepperation of church and state? The Christian right has been using scare tactics to oppose R74. Several papers across the state have investigated thier charges and found them to be untrue. What it boils down to is this.. if you are straight, gay people being able to marry will have NO effect on you!

  4. Sam, you conveniently forgot this part of the article on the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association:

    “A post at the Pearl Diver noted the “lawsuit was initially brought against the Methodist church in order to strip its tax-exempt status and penalize it on the grounds of failure to comply with the public use clause of state-wide tax-exemption legalese.”

    The Houston Chronicle added:

    The church had argued that its freedom of religious expression would be violated if it was forced to allow same-sex ceremonies to be performed on its property.

    The ruling means that the group affiliated with the Methodist Church no longer has the right to say what activities it may not allow on its own property.”

    The initial goal of the action was clear – to strip the church of its tax-exempt status, but the ruling had the same impact.

    You did say one thing that stands out quite clearly:

    “Without Christianity, NO ONE would have any reason to oppose gay marriage.”

    That leads me to believe that the real goal is not “equality” as you suggest, but something far different. Your final two paragraphs speak volumes. So much for “live and let live,” I see.

  5. “That leads me to believe that the real goal is not “equality” as you suggest, but something far different. Your final two paragraphs speak volumes. So much for “live and let live,” I see.”

    The real goal is to not live in a theocracy. I don’t want your personal religious beliefs to control my life or anyone else’s. First Amendment and all that, ya know?

  6. Woe is you! Why do people insist on forcing you to abandon your bigotry and prejudice, which you practice in the name of a man who said to love everyone and give everything to helping others. If only the sinful, deviant, perverted homosexuals would abandon their quest to be treated as human beings and accept their place as minions of Satan set on corrupting Jesus’ beloved America through destruction of good, honest, heterosexual Christian families.

    If you want to hate in the name of a God who loves, well, who is anyone to stop you? You should be free to spread your intolerance just as the KKK and Aryan nations groups were and are.

    Poor Christians, being persecuted. How hard it must be to have to accept that a majority of people are less intolerant and homophobic than you.

    Cry me a fucking river.

  7. Sam, who’s talking about a theocracy? Specifically? Name names, provide real sources. You already have the right to believe as you wish and no one is forcing you to believe or not believe anything. This is exactly the kind of ad hominem straw-man attack I wrote of. Your comments prove my conclusion – you support “live and let live” until someone disagrees with you.

  8. “Sam, who’s talking about a theocracy? Specifically? Name names, provide real sources. You already have the right to believe as you wish and no one is forcing you to believe or not believe anything. This is exactly the kind of ad hominem straw-man attack I wrote of. Your comments prove my conclusion – you support “live and let live” until someone disagrees with you.”

    Opposition to gay marriage is only on the basis that, according to a select group, God doesn’t like it.

    Okay, whose god? Which faith tradition? Why should something be a law of the United States — land of the free, where we have a separation between church and state — based on one particular religious view?

    Let me put it to that gay marriage has ZERO “chilling effect” on you, your marriage, or your ability to believe and state opinions as you please. Non-discrimination laws are to protect EVERYONE. Your rights, my rights, the rights of gays, blacks, men, women, and so on. Your basis, and the basis of the anti-gay movement, is one that is attempting to make a conservative interpretation of the Bible into the LAW OF THE LAND, which is supposed to be applied to all persons equally.

    In my religious view, gays are no different than straight people. Your religious view is somehow “more equal” than mine? Is that what you’re saying?

  9. Joe – How many heterosexual couples sued because their weddings didn’t go as planned because some business didn’t “like” them?

    Being a small business owner, I applupaud you for standing up for small business. Though, who are you REALLY trying to protect? Who are you trying to do good for? What about that gay couple, who have been paying separate taxes for many years (adding up to way more than that small business’ $6637.94) because they couldn’t be married? Are you standing up for them? What bout their kids, who may be heterosexual or homosexual, but because their parents aren’t “normal” & pay more taxes, therefore living not as well off as their peers. Are you standing up for them? How about the 16yo gay or lesbian in high school who reads your article and wonders if life is worth living because, because they grew up being told that they too would some day be married and have a happy family, yet there are people like you telling them they aren’t good enough. Are you protecting them? What good are you really trying to do?

  10. You’re basically asking for “special rights” to be applied to you and those like you so that you can marginalize gays with impunity. I’m calling “persecution complex” on that argument. Being a Christian should not bring special privileges to American citizenship. It shouldn’t for Christians, Muslims, practicing Jews, or any other faith tradition. You have to play fair in America. We’ve fought wars over that, you know.

  11. Sam:

    You have no idea what my religious view is, and even if you did, I doubt that you would be able to properly represent it.

    It sound to me, however, that you’re engaging in a bit of projection in your last sentence.

  12. Justin Ellenbecker

    You bring up how “It is true the referendum specifically says the law would “preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.” Then ask “But what about everyone else?” Aside from justices of the peace no others perform marriage ceremonies.

    As far as recognizing them, get this they are a state sponsored contract. I’ve yet to experience anyone not recognizing my marriage to my wife, even though several decades ago it was illegal across most of this nation. If I were to experience it I would have right to legal recourse if say for example a health insurance company would not cover my wife due to her ethnic origin.

    These types of provisions are covered in R 74 because only religious institutions are allowed to have prejudicial views that are enforced via law when concerning marriage. In states where there are laws against denying service to people because of a persons prejudicial views then yes those people who act on them are liable to face legal repercussions.

    Washington state is rather lax on this, just as it is ok to legally fire somebody because they have military service caused P.T.S.D. it is also ok to legally refuse service under some standards.

    It’s sad that we still see people forcing their views on others while enveloping themselves in the false pretenses of religion. You can fight this and maybe there will still be some holdout against this in our nation when your time comes to an end, but this change is inevitable. Just as the end of Jim Crow laws were, separate, but equal when to use your words “is examined through the lens of history” is a failed policy.

  13. Oh, please! Your arguments were, at best, full of omissions and at worst, deceitful on the eve of election. I’ve got a pretty good idea where you’re coming from, especially since the ONLY source of these arguments today is conservative Christians.

    How about you take on my argument that you’re encouraging the continuation of a major gap in civil rights laws? Because gay marriage IS a civil rights issue, and you’re coming down on the same side of those who opposed women’s rights and interracial rights.

  14. Justin Ellenbecker

    @ Joe, you entitled this “Passage of Ref 74 could threaten constitutional rights of Christians, others opposed to gay marriage,” where in the constitution does it mention protection against legal recourse for those who refuse to acknowledge state contracts and the inherent rights of those protected by said contracts?

    Or maybe some recent landmark supreme court decision that allows this? I think you are throwing that word constitutional around without the required backing.

  15. Since when was the word “could” mean something Is “fact”. You say many things “could” happen, though it is more likely nothing will happen at all. It’s like saying it “could” rain, there there are no clouds in the sky. Classic example of fear tactics & manipulation.

  16. Since when was the word “could” mean something Is “fact”. You say many things “could” happen, though it is more likely nothing will happen at all. It’s like saying it “could” rain, yet there are no clouds in the sky. Classic example of fear tactics & manipulation.

  17. Joe, tell me if this is how you see it:

    - Poor business owners are being bullied & their constitutional rights have been taken away by gay couples because gay marriage goes against their faith.

    Or

    - Gay couples are being bullied by business owners, who get sued, found to be wrong in the eyes of the LAW, and are brought to justice because of their discrimination.

  18. here is a simple test to see if you are a bigot. Take every thought you have about gay marriage.. remove the word gay and insert the word interacial. If the Satement sounds bigoted, then just face the fact that you are a bigot. And please fess up to it!

  19. “- Poor business owners are being bullied & their constitutional rights have been taken away by gay couples because gay marriage goes against their faith.

    Or

    - Gay couples are being bullied by business owners, who get sued, found to be wrong in the eyes of the LAW, and are brought to justice because of their discrimination.”

    Chris, you’ve said what I’ve been wanting to say, but in far fewer and far more courteous words.

  20. Chris,

    Not taken away by gay couples – read the article – taken away by activist judges and unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats with far too much power.

  21. “Not taken away by gay couples – read the article – taken away by activist judges and unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats with far too much power.”

    Ah, the myth of the “activist judge” — because if judges were being fair, they’d rule based on biblical values, not fairness.

  22. Joe,

    Read the article, hence the whole “could” comment earlier.

    So lets put it this way:
    Poor business owners are being bullied by radical judges (they must be associated with terrorists since the word radical was used – again another fear keyword) judge against discrimination because gay and lesbian couples want to use public spaces and were turned down by the business owners because of the business owner’s faith.

    You also talk about the freedom of religion, but what about the freedom FROM religion? Wasn’t that also something our country was founded on? Didn’t they escape religious persecution? Isn’t that what marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is? Freedom of religious persecution?

  23. I believe that dicrimination due to Sexual orrientation is ALREADY illegal in Washington state is it not? So R74 would not change anything in that regard.

  24. In addition to the proven discrimination against people for their religious beliefs, these laws that pretend to protect churches from having to perform same sex marriages have already been nullified in courts almost immediately after they are passed – these “protections” are worthless.

    As for the suggestion that we try exchanging ‘inter-racial’ with ‘same sex’ in front of the word ‘marriage’ so that we can see our alleged bigotry – try exchanging ‘incestuous’ or ‘pedophilic’ in front of the word ‘marriage’ so that you can see your anti-Christian(Jew, Muslim, etc) bigotry!

    You don’t have to believe or agree with the major religions of the world on homosexuality, but you do not have the right to force your perversions on the rest of us.

  25. @ Grace I’m gonna call you out on the assertion that courts “nullify” provisions that somehow churches are going to be forced to marry gays against the convictions of the congregation. It’s just not true!

    We don’t conflate same sex marriage with pedophilia for a BIG reason — gay people are born the way they are, and they want to marry other consenting adults. Children are incapable of consent. You might as well say that same sex marriage would protect the “right” of murders to murder. It’s illogical, no one’s asking for it, and it slanders gays, minorities, and other people for whom civil rights law was not always there to protect them.

    You don’t have to think that gay people are any less than demonic if you really insist on it — you’re entitled to your opinion — but we’re not going to let your personally held beliefs effect the quality of life of people who are otherwise no different than anyone else in what they want — love, relationships, and the full protection of the law they are promised as American citizens.

  26. Oh and by the way, I don’t have to tolerate intolerance! I’m standing up for the right of all people, not the right of one group to suppress the rights of others. http://i.imgur.com/ngIv6.jpg

  27. Grace… noone would ever suggest pedophile or insestuous relationships are the same as a loving adult commited relationship. (except perhaps those driven by fear).

    You use the word “perversion”. I find that interesting. Does not your faith teach you to love one another and to not judge? You do not get to pick and choose the parts that (you think) work for your argument. perhaps gay sex seams perverted to you.. but I have many gay friends that would think hetrosexual contact would seam perverted to them.

    the bottom line is that faith has NO business in law. Sepperation of church and state should remain absolute.. as much to protect faiths, as to protect people FROM faiths.

    Two consenting adults getting married should hold no threat to your faith if it is indeed strong… so come up with a better argument

  28. also.. Grace, if you knew me at all, you would know that I am not anti-christian, jew, muslim, or any other faith for that matter.

    I AM however anti-hate, anti-ignorance and anti-propaganda.

  29. Grace:

    Something we can agree on! You don’t have the right to force your pervertions on the rest of us. That’s why courts rule in favor of equality and not bigotry.

  30. It’s tough responding to this blog on an iPad. Meant “perversions” in the previous comment.

    Also Grace & Joe: how would you feel if you went to a place that you wanted to get married, and the people said, “Sorry we don’t serve your kind here.” How would you feel?

  31. Thanks, Eric. Wow, indeed. Not unexpected, though. These commenters prove my conclusion that it’s “live and let live” until someone disagrees. Then the long knives come out.

  32. The Reverend Debra Conklin

    Eric, that was a low blow. I’ve disagreed with any number of things you’ve written on FAVs.Sometimes I comment, sometimes I don’t. But I respect you as someone who writes thoughtful reflections. John is new to the site and one of the first things he writes (the first one I’ve seen) comes out swinging with factual inaccuracies and fear mongering. I’m deeply disappointed. I was hoping for serious discourse across the spectrum of Christian communities.

  33. Rev. Conklin, nothing I have written is inaccurate. I have been dealing with the pro-gay left since about 1991, and the things I recounted here are mild compared to what I could have written.

    Most of the comments here prove that my conclusion is correct. Washington voters are being asked to set aside thousands of years of Scriptural teaching and doctrine to embrace what God calls an abomination. That is nothing to scoff at. They deserve to know what it is they are being asked to support, and they deserve to hear both sides of the argument. That is not fear mongering. That’s called an “open exchange of ideas.”

    What saddens me is that one side doesn’t want the other to be heard.

  34. 1. The New Mexico case was about anti-discrimination laws.

    2. Ocean Grove was a public facility; as stipulated by the tax abatement the owners got in return. And yet again, this falls under anti-discrimination laws.

    3. He shouldn’t have been banned. But what does this have to do with the Government? The owner of the Mall said he wasn’t welcome; not Government agents.

    4. He was reinstated by the Superintendent. But you forget to mention his blatant infusing of religious belief in his syllabus.

    5. If a clerk can’t perform their duties, then they shouldn’t be employed as a clerk. Period.This is like saying that a licensed doctor should be allowed to withhold medication from someone because “it goes against their beliefs”. Too bad. You’re treating the patient, not yourself.

    If you have a problem with anti-discrimination laws, take up a post about them. But this whole post is basically one giant red herring.

  35. So, Joe, standing up for the rights of yourself and others is “bringing out the long knives?” yes, I do get that reference to nazi Germany. Classy! Here I thought I was just participating in the American tradition of justice. Silly me.

  36. @The Reverend Debra Conklin
    Disagreement is completley valid and to be expected considering the differances between progressives and conservatives and the middle. But I would hope that we can engage issues and people in ways that don’t pummel them into the ground. I’ve expeeinced plenty of push back and from my perspective at times hostility but ive also seen people who came out like attack dogs are often just dealing with little dog syndrome online. No disresepct or assumption to you Joe, just sharing my experience, it seems people are way too comfortable talking to one another in acerbic ways online in a fashion never done face to face. It’s like the first contact is always a blow and then they wait to see if someone hits back or back down and then it’s either a hug or drop kick. It’s a strange dance to witness and experience.

    As for all this, I need to read it as I watch the debate near the finish line on Ref 74, both ads and people get more true to reality when it gets desperate. The gloves come off and you see where people really stand. It’s been really enlightening, as one holding a ballot in one hand and paying attention to the conversations going on and the ads, oh the ads.

  37. No disrespect taken, Eric, I understand exactly what you are talking about, and I welcome reasonable debate with reasonable, civil people. In my years of experience, however, I have found far too many – usually on the left – are simply unreasonable and have no desire to engage in civil discourse. I usually ignore those folks, but I’ve adopted the maxim that says you know you’re over the target when you start taking flak.

    BTW, I’ll be writing more on this at Examiner. Things are really heating up out there.

  38. Joe, I’d have to say I was blown away myself when reading your article this morning and saw 41 posts already! Thanks for your courage in putting it out there. Looking forward to more of your articles in the future. Most of the posts that try to tell what Jesus said or Who He was obviously haven’t read too much of the Bible in actuality or are having selective memory about what it says.

    Our founding fathers had no intention whatsoever in creating a country for freedom from religion. They wanted freedom to worship freely without an official state religion which always becomes corrupted by money and power just like our government. Our form of government will not survive without righteous voters, citizens. It is starting to come unraveled for that very reason. Christ said that in the last days true believers would be killed for standing for righteousness, and the killers would think they were doing “God” a favor ( John 16:2 ) Righteousness has certainly been stood on it’s head these days. It becomes obvious that some fear might be involved when those who disagree immediately come as a mob to your house to protest. Hard to listen to a crowd like that play the “love others” card.

  39. Disappointingly predictable responses, but it is sometimes entertaining to see how easily the other side runs for their standard knee-jerk propaganda rather than actually making an effort to understand what has been said (or written).

    The comment was made that if we ‘intolerant homosexual haters or phobes or insert other pejorative name calling of choice designed to make the other side look pathologically unreasonable in their disagreement’ people simply exchanged ‘same sex’ with ‘inter-racial’ when talking about marriage, we would then be able to see how bigoted our views are. The response is, well, yeah, sure, IF those words were validly interchangeable, it would then appear discriminatory. But they’re not.

    The point of my response was not a ‘conflation’, but to illustrate to you that all the major religions of the world have for millenia understood homosexuality as an unnatural act that offends God on a major scale. So, yes, to people of faith it ranks right up there with every other sin that offends God on a major scale. (Actually, to many atheists it ranks right up there with sins that offend evolution on a major scale, too)

    So while you are proposing that we view the issue as you do, I am proposing that you view the issue as it is actually seen by those whom you are trying to convert…

  40. The secular misinterpretation of ‘judge not let you be judged’ is always a popular standard canard tossed into these dialogues – it gets so old. If you’re going to try to use Scripture in an argument, at least make an effort to understand what the words you are flinging around are actually saying – and the context in which they were given. (Rule of thumb esp for neophytes: if your interpretation of a verse creates contradictions with other verses in Scripture, you are guaranteed to be misunderstanding it)

    Jesus was not commanding us to check our brains at the door – seriously, you cannot discern ANYTHING in life without making judgments, it would be absurd – He was saying that we cannot know the extenuating circumstances that might lead people to commit the sins that they do and we should not attempt to judge an individual’s soul (a person who commits suicide is a particularly apt example of this).

    So yes, we most certainly CAN say that an act is objectively sinful (particularly when God has clearly told us that it is so), and yes, we CAN tell people who commit serious sins that they are risking their eternal soul if they do not repent (particularly since God has clearly told us that we have an obligation to do so – as charitably as possible – or we will have a share in that person’s punishment), but we CANNOT tell anyone with any certainty that they ARE damned as that is strictly between the offending soul & God.

    People also love to throw out, ‘well Jesus ate with prostitutes & tax collectors’ – yeah, but He wasn’t there sharing in their orgies, He was there to teach them that God still loved them, that it wasn’t too late to be saved, & they didn’t have to keep living as they had been. BTW, it’s still true!

  41. I truly am curious – can any of you name a court case in which the court actually upheld the protection of a person of faith from having to participate in a same sex marriage ceremony?

  42. For thousands of years, marriage has been understood as a binding relationship between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreating a family. Given that, along with all the research that shows that the healthiest outcomes for children – and therefore the healthiest outcome for society – come from the traditional nuclear family, it makes complete sense for the government to provide support for traditional marriage in the form of tax breaks, etc.

    On what scientific, or at least factual, basis (as opposed to hypothetical) do you suggest that we should simply toss that aside & redefine marriage according to the views of a very small minority? Especially when that redefinition has resulted over & over again in Americans being deprived of their Constitutional right to the free practice of religion and their right to free speech? (Even the KKK & the Black Panthers haven’t been deprived of those Constitutional rights!)

    Particularly given that research shows that the majority of that minority lives very unhealthy & costly to society lifestyles.

    And given that people who live the homosexual lifestyle can already have religious marriage ceremonies and that various legal options can readily be provided for the rights of visitation & inheritance, already have the exact same civil rights as the rest of us, etc, the onus here is COMPLETELY on your side to provide a VALID argument for the unprecedented change to both the fundamental structure of society & the creation of one class of American citizens with fewer Constitutional rights than another, that you seek to impose on the rest of society — NOT vice-versa.

  43. Tracy Simmons

    Let me just say this:
    SpokaneFAVS has taken a lot of heat from conservatives for printing pro Ref 74 articles, and now we’re taking heat from liberals for printing this reject 74 piece.
    We strive to present ALL viewpoints. Why? Well, to quote Thich Nhat Hanh “… We cannot question that understanding is the most important component for transformation. If we talk to each other, if we organize a dialogue, it is because we believe there is a possibility that we can understand the other person better. When we understand another person, we understand ourselves better…”

  44. @Dennis: Thanks!
    @Grace: “If” can be a mighty big word. I like to say that “if” worms carried shotguns, birds wouldn’t try to eat them.

    It is hard to carry on a civil discourse when you have to deal with stuff like this: http://www.examiner.com/article/preserve-marriage-washington-gay-marriage-supporters-engage-theft-violence

  45. I am not sure why people would be upset about reading articles from both sides of the issue when we are in a country that is split almost down the middle on the subject. When ALL similar legislation has been voted against in every state where its been put before the voters. It would seem to me, it would be perfectly right to hear from both sides.

    I am surprised by the backlash you mention, I have benefited from the process, articles, responses and the people I have met through all of it. For me it has clarified the issues involved, helped me understand better and exposed me to broader legal realities. I’ve been told that I am not more understanding on as a result of my willingness to write and respond on the issue because I don’t supposedly reflect someone’s position. But I disagree, I’ve grown far more understanding and supportive of many people and positions through this dialogue, I think that is good fruit from a site like this.

    I originally thought this was a civil rights issue until I actually looked at the laws. Now I see it as a equal rights issues from a secular standpoint. I have never thought it was right from a sacred standpoint. But with all the backlash stuff coming out and the ugly public displays going on and the recent vulgar Obama supporting ads, I am starting to wonder, just whose civil rights might be threatened now.

  46. Eric, your desire for discourse on this issue is, I guess, admirable in a way. But we’re not talking about a fluffy, conceptual idea like epistemology, or interpreting history, or some other academic or philosophical subject where nothing is really at stake in any measurable way — whether we’re measuring wealth, stature, or pain.

    I think it’s INCREDIBLY intellectually dishonest of you to insist that the subject of the rights of others be lowered to genteel debate. We have numbers (real, countable numbers) that prove that the the bigotry and institutionalized discrimination against LGBT people causes enormous pain, depression, and death: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_among_LGBT_youth

    I’m not gay. I don’t have anything at stake personally whether or not R74 passes. But I see the pain and suffering being caused by erroneous information, crusty and tired cultural attitudes, and feel-good platitudes like the myth of “persecuted American Christians”. As a Christian, as a human being, it makes me want to act by taking on ingrained, stubborn bigotry and hate. THAT’S why I’m involved — it comes from a very, very deep-seated Christian love for the world.

    Like me, you don’t have anything at stake. You’ll still have your marriage and your acceptance in society whether R74 passes or not. But to me, your approach is not terribly unlike that of a slave owner in the antebellum South, who might be content to shoot the breeze with his slave, debating on the pros and cons of slaves being free. From the perspective of the slave, all he wants is to be FREE. That is the power imbalance. Gay people are institutionally second-class citizens in this country, and you can choose to either be the loving responder, who takes action on behalf of the repressed, or a member of the mob, doing what’s easy, and not sticking out your neck.

  47. I just stumbled across this discussion, and what I want to say is way to go Tracy. You get heat for printing pro 74 and heat for printing this piece. You are doing something right. I will bet you that you have never had this much response to a post.

    As for the article itself, I can’t count the times I have refused to do weddings for opposite sex couples. Both the Constitution of the United States and the rules and regulations of my own denomination protect me in this, and guess what? I have never been sued, never been threatened with a suit. The idea that our freedom of religion is at stake is simply mistaken; it depends upon the false assumption that the inability to impose my beliefs on other people represents a restriction of my freedom. As lincoln put it in another context, the wolf and the sheep have different views of freedom.

  48. It’ an analogy — likening to someone who is in a position of power over some aspect of another human being’s life, and refusing to relinquish or help relinquish an unfair hold over that person’s liberty, health, or happiness. Most Americans are completely blind to the position of privilege they enjoy. While it’s not *inherently* wrong to not recognize your privilege, once informed, one needs to act, or be complicit in causing harm to one of God’s children. To whom much is given, much is expected. Most Americans are born into the “much is given part” and a lot of kindness, love and tolerance is EXPECTED — regardless of how it might go against establishment or comfort zone.

  49. It sounds like some here need a reminder of what, exactly, “Biblical marriage” constitutes: http://bobcargill.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/biblical-marriage.jpg

    Actually the idea of “one man, one woman” comes from Ancient Rome, right around the time of Jesus. This standard of marriage became the norm for all because Roman Christians were unique in surviving the persecution period, and the cultural standards they brought with them as Romans became the standard for all Christians during the expansion of the empire and the newly formed imperial church under Constantine. If it weren’t for that, there’s a strong likelihood polygamy would be more widely practiced, as that was the standard of the semitic peoples then and today.

    Lots and lots of sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_in_ancient_Rome

  50. Martin Elfert

    I’ll admit to some hesitation about entering into this thread – the internet so often lends itself to what Rushdie marvelously dubbed “consecutive monologues” rather than to genuine dialogue. For what it’s worth, we went through this conversation back in Canada ten to fifteen years ago. That conversation included the very same warnings about limitations on religious freedom. Since same gender marriage became the law of the land, experience has proven that there was no cause for alarm. To choose a common example, no pastor has ever been obliged to officiate at a same gender wedding and there is indication that one ever will be.

  51. God’s design was one man and one woman in marriage as is obvious in His creating Adam only one wife! The bible never glosses over wrong behavior even in his chosen people when it came to polygamy. But homosexuality is always, in every instance, presented as one of many kinds of abominations against God. The NT standard is in harmony with God’s original design as stated in I Tim. 3:2 & 12 when giving the standard for elders and deacons of the newly born bodies of believers (churches).

    I know that American Christians will no doubt suffer persecution even when humbly standing for truth and hopefully we will learn not to complain about it, but to rejoice!

  52. The Reverend Deb Conklin

    Mr. Newby, you claim, “Rev. Conklin, nothing I have written is inaccurate. I have been dealing with the pro-gay left since about 1991, and the things I recounted here are mild compared to what I could have written.”

    In fact, virtually everything you wrote was false or misleading.

    Factual inaccuracies:
    1.” Left wing activist judges and unaccountable, unelected “Human Rights” Commissioners have a long history of twisting and perverting the law to silence and intimidate gay marriage opponents.”
    Pure propaganda for the purpose of appealing to the fundamentalist’s persecution complex. No judges or commissioner are seeking to silence or intimidate gay marriage opponents. And calling them ‘left wing activist’ and ‘unaccountable, unelected’ are emotion laden pejoratives. Judges and commissioners have applied civil rights protections and constitutional protections to stop certain BEHAVIORS of gay marriage opponents when they violate the law.

    2. I have read the opinion in Elane Photography v. Willock, http://www.nmcompcomm.us/nmcases/NMCA/2012/12ca-086.pdf and at no point does the court declare that “gay rights trump religious freedom”. Nor does Judge Garcia in his written opinion “say that states can order Christians to violate their faith if they wish to conduct business.” Neither of those statements or anything that they could be considered a paraphrase for appears in the opinion. What the Court of Appeals says is that people who chose to be in a business that is open to the public must obey the law, including Mexico’s law against discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation. Elane Photography argued, as have many others over the decades, that their business should not have to obey a law that was incompatible with their religious beliefs. The court followed decades of precedent in civil rights law by saying that businesses can’t use personal religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate in the conduct of their business.

    3. In the New Jersey case, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association chose to apply for (and received) a special tax break for private entities that were willing to open their beach front property to public use. When the Association refused to allow a same gender couple to rent the Boardwalk Pavilion for their ceremony, they took legal action to have the special tax break withdrawn. To say that the state took away the right of the Association to decide what to allow “on its own property” is false. When the Association accepted the special tax break it agreed to be open to the public, and gave up the right to refuse to let some members of the public use it.

    4. It is true that people have lost their jobs for actions such as refusing to sign a marriage license for a gay couple. However, that is no different than firing a phlebotomist who faints at the sight of blood. Or firing a police officer who refuses to carry a weapon because s/he is a pacifist. If you are not willing to do the tasks that a job requires, you should not expect to keep your job. Being a county clerk requires providing a marriage license to anyone entitled to it. If you can’t or won’t do that you need to get a different job.

    Your choice to write something that you knew to be yellow journalism and then complain when people call you on it is disingenuous. You are the one who is “simply unreasonable and have no desire to engage in civil discourse. “

  53. I haven’t heard Joe do any complaining, and to write the article from his point of view is free speech and engaging in civil discourse. Just because the written opinion didn’t have the words “gay rights trump religious freedom” in it doesn’t mean that’s not what happened. That’s just playing word games. Judges are just human beings too and when a society loses it’s moral compass then deception and hidden agendas become much more common. Individual rights used to mean that if you owned something, a property or business, you could use or run it as you saw fit. Our discourse has slowly but surely moved to the left, to the collective, socialist, communist way of thinking. Why not walk down the street and get the pictures taken at a shop that welcomes that behaviour without forcing someone who doesn’t to violate their conscience? Intolerance says I won’t allow that.

  54. I am a field organizer in Spokane trying to pass R 74 so I have a horse in this race, FYI. What I have heard in this commentary and on the phone, night after night since July is that there are two systems in tension here. One is our government and it’s commitment to equality and the second is Christianity and its commitment to hierarchy. To be a hierarchy you must have a minority you are willing to oppress. Homosexuals are about all there is left. That makes us really important.

    I have spent countless hours listening politely while people tell me that the world will end if I get to marry my long term partner. Not because of overpopulation, global climate change, war, famine, superbugs, chemicals in our soil, acid in our ocean but because the state issues us a license. I listened to people who, like some of those in this forum, believe that God’s greatest commandment is to judge and worked with those who believe that His most important words are love one another.
    I hope love wins but if it doesn’t, to those who need me to protect your world, you’re welcome.

  55. There are many important issues and topics that affect this world and the people in it. It just happens that this blog thread is dealing with homosexuality. I don’t spend all day thinking about this, but I do have a heart conviction about what’s true and what isn’t. I welcome the opportunity through this website to be able to put my convictions out there without fear of someone coming to my door to beat me (not yet at least).

    There certainly are large segments of Christianity that are commited to heirarchy but I am thankful not to be a part of that. My local body of believers is an independent community Bible church commited, not to heirarchy but to Jesus Christ. Our pastor teaches the Word verse by verse, week after week, and is a huge blessing to all of us that call it our church home. I’m not out to oppress anyone. And to say that our government is committed to equality is not quite accurate. It’s commited to furthering the world view of whoever happens to be in charge at the moment, and at this moment it happens to be government control and oppression of the individual rights of its citizens to the benefit of certain favored groups who support it in turn.

    God’s greatest commandment is to love HIM with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. You can’t love someone you don’t know and to know Him you have to come through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You can’t love your neighbor correctly until you have first recognized your own sin, repented of it, and turned to Jesus Christ by faith. That’s not my opinion, that is God’s declaration. I don’t have a world, it belongs to the Lord. It exists by Him, and for Him. What I want is meaningless and some of the time selfish, but God’s Word revealed in Scripture states what He wants.

    To really love someone means acting in their best interests, wanting the best for them, even at your own expense. Being in rebellion against the true God is not in anyone’s best interest. It is arrogant and storing up punishment. It has nothing to do with me, my relationship to Him is secure and unbreakable through the precious blood of my Lord. Everyone will some day stand alone before Jesus Christ to give account for our lives, behaviours, attitudes and words. To say that Christ can save someone from homosexuality is true from Scripture, but invites vicious verbal, and sometimes physical reprisal from many who want to live that way. Thanks be to God that love will win, but I think there are many who will be horrified about what that might actually mean.

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