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*UPDATE: Additional commentary added*

Yesterday he whined about a hairdresser refusing service to Susana Martinez. Today, NOM's Brian Brown is whining about the veto of SB 1062 by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, and about the media coverage of it:

It's axiomatic that hatred is born of misunderstanding and ignorance. This is true of personal hatred, but it's also true of ideological enmity and the hatred of an idea.

Over the past two weeks media elites, politicians, activists, and opinion writers were climbing over one another to reach the heights of histrionics in their expression of hatred for a bill in Arizona: SB 1062, a bill that aimed to clarify the state's existing statutory religious liberty protections.

The bill was unfortunately vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Wednesday of last week, who caved to the pressures being leveraged by those screaming misinformation and lies all over the media.


The utter deluge of misinformation that, to use Lowry's term, "doomed" the bill in Arizona was really unprecedented. It was a picture out of Orwell's 1984, like the scene of the "Two Minutes Hate," when everyone in Oceana is forced to watch a film and express their hatred of the enemies of Big Brother — even though no one really knows why they're expected to have such hatred.


The bill's critics seemed to have not even taken the time to read it before issuing their condemnations; or, if they did read it, they made the deliberate and conscious decision to willfully misunderstand it.

It's true that the bill did not explicitly mention, homosexuality, same-sex couples or same-sex marriage. But we all know what the intention was. It was drafted in response to Elane Photography v. Willock in New Mexico, a case involving discrimination against a gay couple.

The funny thing is, NOM has admitted as much. They have admitted that the purpose of bills like SB 1062 is to legalize discrimination against gay couples. I have three blog posts to show you where they explain this. In all of them, the emphasis is mine.

From their February 19 post "Protect Your First Amendment Rights":

The Kansas Senate has halted debate on a vitally important piece of legislation — a bill to protect people of faith from having to violate their conscience by being forced to participate in same-sex 'marriage' ceremonies.


In Kansas you have an opportunity to take effective steps to protect people of all faiths from government coercion and from the demands of homosexual-marriage advocates to not only be recognized but completely supported by all of society.

From their February 21, 2014 post "TAKE ACTION: Support the Protection of Conscience":
So I'm asking you to take action today to support two state-level pieces of legislation which aim to protect individuals and their businesses from legal reprisals for declining to participate in same-sex 'marriages.' The bills are pending in Arizona and Kansas.

Both the Arizona Senate and House have approved a bill that would prevent business owners from being targeted in lawsuits for declining to participate in same-sex wedding celebrations on the grounds of religious objections.

With the spate of lawsuits we've seen around the country brought against business owners who have declined service for same-sex 'marriage' celebrations, we know how critical legislation of this nature is to protect the First Amendment rights of people of faith.


The bill in Kansas does essentially the same thing as the one in Arizona: it protects people of faith from onerous lawsuits that threaten their livelihood simply because they would decline to lend their support to the idea of genderless marriage.


Even though these two bills are at the state level, they are important to a larger debate going on nationwide about the rights of individuals and businesses who hold to the idea that marriage is solely the union of a man and a woman. Passage of this legislation will send an important message that people of faith need such protections and that the rights of conscious must be firmly protected by our lawmakers!

So please take action today on this important issue, and when you have done so forward this email to your family and friends using the buttons below so that these lawmakers hear in no uncertain terms that religious people in America will not consent to be bullied or coerced into violating their consciences to please a radical movement bent on reshaping marriage and family!

And from their February 22, 2014 post "Civilization and Its Discontents":
This bill will protect business owners who believe in marriage as the union of one man and one woman from being forced to violate their conscience and their religious convictions by participating in same-sex nuptial ceremonies.
If there was misinformation about SB 1062, it was also coming from NOM.

But no, the media coverage wasn't misinformation. He might have left political commentary almost two years ago, but Keith Olbermann's messages will never leave me. The relevant one here is his November 15, 2010 special comment responding to Ted Koppel's criticism of his commentary. He said that in the lead up to Iraq the media failed...

because when truth was needed, all we got were facts.
But in the case of SB 1062, we got truth. We needed the media to report more than just the text of the bill. We needed the media to report its intentions and how it would work in practice. We needed lawmakers to stand up on the House floor with a "NO GAYS ALLOWED" sign, even if it was in violation of house rules. Here, the media did its job and told it like it is.

Brian Brown continues:

At The Foundry, Kelsey Harris put together a special piece entitled, "Four Businesses Whose Owners Were Penalized for Their Religious Beliefs." She explained that, amidst the debate of SB 1062, it was worth taking some time to "look... back at some of the ways that religious beliefs have come under attack in the public square in recent years."

She covers the cases of Elaine Photography, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Masterpiece Cakeshop, and Arlene's Flowers: all examples of those who have been targeted because of their religious values and subjected to harassment by gay activists because they declined to celebrate same-sex 'weddings.'

Let's examine these one by one, starting with New Mexico. Vanessa Willock approached Elane Photography in 2006 and was rejected. The New Mexico Human Rights Commission ruled against the Hugenins in 2008. Last August 22, the New Mexico Supreme Court upheld this ruling. But marriage equality didn't come to New Mexico until last December. It was not legal at the time of the rulings of the NMHRC or the NMSC. But New Mexico did and does have an anti-discrimination law, the Human Rights Act. It was under this law that the Hugenins were sued, not because of marriage equality.

Now to Oregon. Last year, Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman asked Sweet Cakes by Melissa to bake a cake for their ceremony. The bakers, Melissa and Aaron Klein refused. When the news got out, they faced boycotts and allegedly threats. If there were threats, I condemn them, but I'm not taking their word for it. Following the boycott, they closed their shop and moved their business to their house in September. But it was only on January 17 of this year that Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that they had violated Oregon's Equality Act of 2007, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations and includes sexual orientation. They closed their shop before this ruling. They violated an anti-discrimination law, not a marriage law. Oregon didn't even have marriage equality then or now, although that's hopefully coming this November.

In Colorado, Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, was approached in 2012 by a same-sex couple with a request for a cake for their wedding reception in Denver (they were married in Massachusetts). Phillips refused. He was sued by the couple, and last December 6, a Colorado Administrative Law judge ruled that he had breached Colorado's anti-discrimination law by turning them down. But Colorado didn't have marriage equality then, and it doesn't now.

Lastly, in Washington: In March last year, Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers and Gifts, was approached by Robert Ingersoll and Curt Creed requesting flowers for their wedding that September. She rejected them. She is now facing a complaint and a lawsuit from the couple and from Washington Attorney-General Bob Ferguson. While same-sex marriage was legal in Washington at the time, Stutzman is alleged to have violated Washington's Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations and includes sexual orientation. She is not alleged to have violated a marriage law. Additionally, marriage equality came to Washington by popular referendum, so NOM would have to abandon all of its "Let The People Vote" mantra to have a problem with it there.

He now argues that the service wedding caterers provide is more than merely running a business:

I say "celebrate," because I think that's the most respectful way to refer to what wedding service providers do. Often, these folks are in the business they're in because they appreciate the joy weddings bring: they enjoy celebrating along with the couples they serve and celebrating the good of marriage.

These people are artists, too. Anyone who has seen one of the many TV shows about bakers knows the amazing gifts and talents involved in that form of art, and anyone who compared their wedding photo album to their own holiday shots can appreciate the huge difference.

This raises a very common sense question that isn't brought up a lot in these debates: can good art be compelled and forced under duress? And even if it could, is that what anyone would really want? Who but a dictator could enjoy a wedding cake made under duress?

Yet the same-sex 'marriage' activists who target these businesses (when surely there are other providers available to them who might not have the same religious objections) want to compel these people to use their artistic gifts and talents to celebrate 'marriages' against their consciences and in violation of deeply held beliefs! And now Governor Brewer, with her veto, has in some ways sanctioned the courts to assist these activists in compelling such people's participation!

Brian, I don't doubt that wedding caterers view their businesses in that way. And that's fine. But under the law, they are nothing more than public accommodations bound to follow anti-discrimination laws. That a business owner has a special connection to their work cannot override this reality. When the Colorado judge ruled against Jack Phillips, he explained this argument:
The ALJ, however, rejects Respondents’ argument that preparing a wedding cake is necessarily a medium of expression amounting to protected “speech,” or that compelling Respondents to treat same-sex and heterosexual couples equally is the equivalent of forcing Respondents to adhere to “an ideological point of view.” There is no doubt that decorating a wedding cake involves considerable skill and artistry. However, the finished product does not necessarily qualify as “speech,” as would saluting a flag, marching in a parade, or displaying a motto.

The undisputed evidence is that Phillips categorically refused to prepare a cake for Complainants’ same-sex wedding before there was any discussion about what the cake would look like. Phillips was not asked to apply any message or symbol to the cake, or to construct the cake in any fashion that could be reasonably understood as advocating same-sex marriage. After being refused, Complainants immediately left the shop. For all Phillips knew at the time, Complainants might have wanted a nondescript cake that would have been suitable for consumption at any wedding. Therefore, Respondents’ claim that they refused to provide a cake because it would convey a message supporting same-sex marriage is specious. The act of preparing a cake is simply not “speech” warranting First Amendment protection.


Compelling a bakery that sells wedding cakes to heterosexual couples to also sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples is incidental to the state’s right to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and is not the same as forcing a person to pledge allegiance to the government or to display a motto with which they disagree. To say otherwise trivializes the right to free speech.


Respondents argue that if they are compelled to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, then a black baker could not refuse to make a cake bearing a white-supremacist message for a member of the Aryan Nation; and an Islamic baker could not refuse to make a cake denigrating the Koran for the Westboro Baptist Church. However, neither of these fanciful hypothetical situations proves Respondents’ point. In both cases, it is the explicit, unmistakable, offensive message that the bakers are asked to put on the cake that gives rise to the bakers’ free speech right to refuse. That, however, is not the case here, where Respodnents refused to bake any cake for Complainants regardless of what was written on it or what it looked like. Respondents have no free speech right to refuse because they were only asked to bake a cake, not make a speech.


Respondents’ refusal to provide a cake for Complainants’ same-sex wedding is distinctly the type of conduct that the Supreme Court has repeatedly found subject to legitimate regulation. Such discrimination is against the law; it adversely affects the rights of Complainants to be free from discrimination in the marketplace; and the impact upon Respondents is incidental to the state’s legitimate regulation of commercial activity. Respondents therefore have no valid claim that barring them from discriminating against same-sex customers violates their right to free exercise of religion. Conceptually, Respondents’ refusal to serve a same-sex couple due to religious objection to same-sex weddings is no different from refusing to serve a biracial couple because of religious objection to biracial marriage. However, that argument was struck down long ago in Bob Jones Univ. v. United States.

To sum up: when you run a business, you are running a business, not making a speech or practicing your religion. You consent to that when you start a business by bestowing on yourself the responsibilities of running a business.

At the end of the post, Brown calls for impeaching Eric Holder:

My good friend, Reverend William Owens, president and founder of the Coalition of African American Pastors, last week issued a call for the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder made news for advising state attorneys general to abandon the defense of their states' marriage laws!

It's absolutely infuriating that our nation's highest law enforcement official would not only violate his own oath of office and abandon the rule of law, but that he would go so far as to urge his counterparts at the state level to follow suit!

Can you imagine what the huge outcry would be if a conservative Attorney General were to advise that certain environmental laws should no longer be defended? There would be cries from the left of a constitutional crisis! Yet because Holder is urging state officials to ignore state marriage laws that the media and the left don't like, Holder's utter lawlessness is applauded.

Reverend Owens is seeking to garner signatures for Holder's impeachment so that Congress will take notice — and I urge you to go add your signature to the petition right away!

Now we have some misinformation from NOM, even after they accused us of misinformation. Over at Media Matters, Luke Brinker explains what Holder actually said:
Addressing the National Association of Attorneys General on February 25, Holder stated that if state attorneys general conclude that their gay marriage bans violate core constitutional principles like equal protection under the law, they're not obligated to defend those bans in court. Holder also explicitly stated that attorneys general shouldn't base such decisions on "policy or political disagreements" and should stick to legal analysis of the bans' constitutionality.

Holder's guidance doesn't mean that marriage equality bans won't be enforced while they're still in effect. However, an attorney general does have the option of refusing to defend laws that he or she believes won't survive judicial scrutiny.

1. He did not tell the attorneys-general of states to stop defending marriage discrimination laws. He said that they are not obliged to defend them if they believe that they are unconstitutional.

2. He told them not to stop defending laws just because they disagree with them.

3. Though NOM did not allege this, he also did not tell to them stop enforcing them. Enforcing something is very different to defending it. Enforcing means that you treat a law as a law until it is struck down or repealed. It does not mean that you have to defend it in court.

Now Brian, if you are concerned about lawlessness, I have three questions for you:

Why do you defend all of the businesses that have broken anti-discrimination laws by not serving same-sex couples?

Why did you defend the clerks in New York who violated their state's marriage law and their obligations, as state officials, to treat everyone equally?

And why did you, in November 2009, sign the Manhattan Declaration, a document that reads, in part:

Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required.

I don't expect that you can answer that.

Originally posted to leftprogressive on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 02:24 PM PST.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality.

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