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03/12/2014

Discriminatory group defends discrimination by grouping discrimination victims with other discriminatory groups

by Jeremy Hooper

Of course the problem with all of the faux "religious freedom" cases is that the bakers and florists and photographers and innkeepers wanted to deny a service that the do, in fact, offer (wedding cakes, floral arrangements, family wedding portraits, shared rooms, etc.) precisely and pointedly because the request came from a gay or lesbian person. But now listen in as the head of one of the nation's most anti-LGBT organizations blatantly turns the oppressed into the oppressor (and vice versa) by equating the denied American citizens at the heart of these cases with some of the most notorious hate groups out there. Then, for good measure, stick around while he slaps a "gay Gestapo" label on those LGBT people who think we should be able to engage in consumer exchanges without American shop owners having an ability to deny us whenever they're feeling too Leviticus-y:

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"This does beg the question about freedom of religion, freedom of association and what the government can compel its citizens to do. Should the government punish the Jewish photographer because he refuses to take pictures for a gathering of Skinheads? Should the government levy fines against an African-American printer who refuses to print posters for a Ku Klux Klan rally? Should a homosexual painter be forced to paint signs for the infamous Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka that reads 'God Hates Fags!' The answer is no to all of these. The government should not compel an individual to engage in a business transaction that violates their conscience. The 'Gay Gestapo' (of which not all gays and lesbians are a part) is now pushing well beyond 'live and let live' territory into using the law to punitively enforce their political and social agenda."

—American Family Association president Tim Wildmon

For those of us who geek out on this stuff, this is of course more of the same of what they've been doing to us for years: turning themselves into the victims and trying to connect us, either subtly or overtly, to actual threats and threatening groups. It's been their strategy for decades.

But I truly think they've overplayed their hands with this "religious freedom" stuff. Americans know what discriminatory business practices look like. Older Americans have firsthand memories of all-too-real examples of shop keeps turning away an "other," often with their personal faith as justification for doing so. When the average American thinks of these situations, it's fairly easy for even less-than-gay-friendly minds to see the danger of booting customers because of who they are. And when the supporters of such discrimination start pretending like a same-sex wedding is as oppressive to disagreeing Christians as a KKK rally, a Westboro Baptist protest, or an antisemitic shit fit is to the groups that they so disgustingly target, I don't think they're moving consensus in the direction they think they're moving it.

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