Last month, as co-chair of the Secular Coalition for Ohio, I had a letter to the editor printed in the Columbus Dispatch about the firestorm over the attempt by Indiana to discriminate against LGBTQ people by using a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Someone who opposed my letter responded to that letter by sending a typed letter to my house. Below is the letter in question and my response.
It should be noted that my response was mailed to the address on the envelope but was returned back to me, unopened – addressee unknown. It really doesn’t help your cause if you use a fake address or refuse to be responded to using the same method you used to rant at me.
Here is the text of the letter I received, postmarked April 17th from someone who claimed to live in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus:
You know what’s missing from your letter regarding the Religious Restoration Act? It is that you don’t acknowledge the only reason this is in the news is that LGBT activists are targeting Christian businesses trying to make a point. Call me cynical, but they’re probably doing it to get more sympathy from the Supreme Court Justices in advance of its consideration of marriage equality.
At any rate, here’s the real picture: if the owners of a business in any way identify them as Christians, in the advertising, decorations on the wall of a business, etc. then they are who these activists (funded by George Soros) go to obtain Services in hopes of being turned down so gays can whine and moan to Big Brother Government to get relief. In the meantime, the activists will use whatever means necessary to ruin the reputation of the vendor and try to put the baker or the florist, whatever, out of business. Yeah, that’s real fair, Douglas.
You and I both know the truth is this: if one baker won’t bake a cake for a wedding ceremony, there are probably 100 others who will. I happen to be involved in the wedding industry in central Ohio and know this for a fact. I’m not in the camp that would deny any services, but my service doesn’t require me to be personally involved with the “happy couple” all day during the ceremony or reception as some vendors must be. And if someone finds it morally unacceptable to be a party to an aberrant union of a so-called marriage, then why would you want to force it on them in the name of secularism? What makes your point of view more important than that of the offended vendor?
And while we’re on the subject of the Religious Restoration Act, did you and your kind protest against it when the Democrats passed the federal law in 1993 and Bill Clinton signed it? You are so transparent in your pursuit of forcing your point of view down everyone else’s throats while acting high and mighty like this is going to cause discrimination. Why didn’t you make a big deal of the federal law that’s over 20 years old?
I don’t give a flying flip who anyone sleeps with and what consenting adults do. When it comes to marriage, however, that is between one man and one woman and that is because it was intended to continue the species, and for fricks sake that can’t be done (without outside intervention) between Adam and Steve or Madame and Eve. Last looked (although it’s changing fast) this is a free country. So if I don’t want to bake a cake for the gays, or take their pictures having a so-called marriage, leave me the heck alone and go to the next name on the list because there are lots of willing vendors to serve you. No you just want to shove your crap down the throats of people who have every right to say “no” on the basis of a religious and moral objection. You want to take away their rights and force your own point of view.
Get over yourselves and work on something that really matters like demanding this hopelessly inept President of ours and our do-nothing representatives do something about an 18 TRILLION debt. Now that’s a real problem Doug.
For those who followed this issue, the person’s letter highlights several flaws and wrong conclusions.
Here is my response, which was returned unopened:
Thank you for the response to my letter to the editor that was in the Columbus Dispatch. I do respect your point of view even I disagree with it and your conclusions. If I may, I would like to address some of the points you made.
I don’t believe that LGBT people are targeting Christian businesses. There is not some conspiracy to attack religion either. The tradition of this country, when it comes to rights, is like the old adage “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.” That means that your freedom to practice your religion can’t unduly hinder the rights of other people who may or may not be part of your group.
Even if a business, open to the public, identifies as Christian, it can’t deny service to a protected group under the Civil Rights law. I’m sure you would be upset if you were a Christian and were refused service by a business that identified itself as Muslim owned.
The ironic thing is that sexual orientation isn’t a protected class under federal law for public accommodations. State laws like the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) isn’t restoring anything since the ability to discriminate against LGBTs is not illegal under the law in many states. Indiana doesn’t have a state non-discrimination law for public accommodations. Only 20 states have such protections for LGBTs.
I, and the seculars I represent, believe that sexual orientation and gender identity should be a protected class. The storm over Indiana’s RFRA is exactly why such protection from discrimination is needed.
We believe that businesses who discriminate against LGBT people should be called out for their discrimination just as they should face public scrutiny if it was learned they had cheated customers. If you have a business open to the public, how you operate your business should be open too.
You are lucky to be in a large urban area like Greater Columbus where there are many places to do business, however not everyone lives in a city. What if you were the only cake baker in town? Why should your religious beliefs force a burden on a couple by making them travel to another town or nearest city to get service?
I could also ask you, if you don’t want to serve same sex couples then why don’t you close your business or take it private? That’s an option.
You asked why people didn’t complain about the federal RFRA passed in 1993. The Secular Coalition for Ohio didn’t exist but personally, at the time, I had issues with the law. I knew then it would be a matter of time before it was expanded to be used to give special privileges for the religious. I was right. It went from only covering Native American peyote smoking to being used to support giving corporations religious rights through the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby US Supreme Court decision.
SCO and other 1st amendment groups do want to see the federal RFRA repealed and some groups have called for it to be repealed years before the Hobby Lobby court case.
You mentioned in your letter that marriage is between one man and one woman in order to “continue the species”. Your conclusion is not quite true. Marriage began as a way for men to mark their property (property included their wife and children) and has evolved to be a legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them. Not to mention the fact that one doesn’t need to be married to have children.
Do you believe that infertile couples or couples who decide not to have children should not be allowed to marry or be refused service?
Your religious version of marriage should not infringe on civil marriage laws. Like I said in my letter, the clergy will not be forced to perform same-sex marriages and churches are exempt from public accommodation laws. RFRAs aren’t needed to restore anything.
I think that human rights and basic dignity of all people is just as important as the national debt. I don’t think one has to deal with only one issue at the exclusion of all others. We can multi-task.
I agree that our representatives are doing nothing on important issues because they are busy pandering to religious conservatives like yourself by passing laws to deny same-sex couples rights and benefits heterosexual couples get through marriage, trying to nickel and dime Roe v Wade with more radical restrictions on a woman’s right to choose and giving businesses religious rights they shouldn’t have.
The Secular Coalition for Ohio is working to remove religious infringement on our civil rights.
Thank you again for your letter and take care…
It’s too bad that the person who sent the first letter refused to answer the points I bring up in my response. Religious conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage also never seem to answer the points.
The important points to remember is same-sex marriage isn’t going to force heterosexual people to marry the same sex, it isn’t going to force the clergy to perform weddings, and it won’t cause religion to implode upon itself.
It’s also true that public accommodation discrimination will not stop the move toward full marriage equality for same-sex couples. If you are a public business who believes you have a right to force your false religious myths on customers, by denying your services, then you better save up your money for the lawsuits to come or go out of business. We don’t need your kind.
You will be left behind.