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It's adorable when anti-LGBT commentators think they've caught us in something

by Jeremy Hooper

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 At 8.58.00 AmDavid Smith, the exceedingly anti-LGBT head of the viciously anti-LGBT Illinois Family Institute, is trying to trip up his state's marriage bill by acting as if people on our side's support for basic nondiscrimination protections is some sort of "proof" that we have an agenda extending beyond marriage itself. He writes:

If the concern of homosexual activists were simply about gaining “marriage equality” as they claim, why would proponents oppose legal protections for all people of faith? Why wouldn’t proponents add specific language to SB 10 to protect the free exercise of religious belief and an individual’s right of conscience, which would protect their right to decline to provide goods, services, and accommodations to those seeking government recognition of same-sex unions as “marriage”?

Because this isn’t merely about “marriage equality.” It’s about quashing every semblance of opposition to the LGBT political agenda through every governmental entity at their disposal: Congress, state legislatures, Presidential Executive Orders, or the judicial or quasi-judicial branches of government. It has nothing to do with marriage “rights” and everything to do with religious bigotry.

While it is important that we stand up to defend the institution of marriage, it is vital that we understand that the agenda is far more insidious and far-reaching than many realize. Once you understand how far they want to take this agenda, it is unconscionable to sit on the sidelines. [

The truth, of course, is that the kinds of nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBT people from a business owner's supposed "right" to deny service to anyone he or she deems too gay for commerce predate the marriage fight. Illinois has had an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination law since 2006 (and most business owners knew better even before then). What people like David are seeking is the supposed "right" to supersede state nondiscrimination laws simply because they don't feel like serving certain kinds of citizens. With this now-daily attempt to conflate nondiscrimination with marriage and exploit both for their own agenda, the "traditional marriage" posse is insisting on the kind of special right that they always accuse us of seeking!

Why would this special exception be a bad thing? Well, to someone like David, an insistent "ex-gay" advocate who routinely describes homosexuality as "depraved" and "unnatural," it probably wouldn't be a bad thing. He surely does believe that an Illinois where retail shops are free to apply personally-crafted morality tests onto certain kinds of customers would be a better, stronger, more "moral" Illinois. However, the vast majority of Illinoisans would surely disagree with him. And even those who aren't so concerned about LGBT rights would surely take issue with the dangerous precedent that this kind of exemption would set. I mean, if people like David want to talk about a "slippery slope," then they should look no further than to these exemptions that they are seeking. Once you give public accommodations the freedom to turn away business on a personally-held whim, where does that end? There is no logical end, which is one reason why religious conservatives, who've long enjoyed nondiscrimination protections, might want to think twice about this decided new effort to play the "victim."

And of course none of this is "proof" of some sort of insidious agenda that goes beyond marriage. I mean, yes, we LGBT people do want things beyond marriage, and nondiscrimination protections are very high on that list—but we are not hiding that! David is trying to make it sound like this inability to flout nondiscrimination ordinances is some sort of dark secret that we bury within the text of marriage bills so that we can put one over on the public. But if he believes that, then that's on nobody but David Smith! If he is surprised by a cake baker's inability to use his spatula to swat away the gays, then he hasn't been looking at the laws of his own state or any state where the "pro-family" crowd has tried to exploit this kind of situation for their own political gain. These nondiscrimination laws have been out there for all to see, and we are quite loud and proud about applauding these laws whenever and wherever they go into effect. We like these fair-minded policies and we really don't care who knows it! In fact, we want history to record where we were on these issues!!

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