Photographer faces law suit

Started 8 months ago | Discussions thread
santamonica812
Contributing MemberPosts: 784
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Re: Christ commanded to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.
In reply to Peter A. Stavrakoglou, 7 months ago

Anti-discrimination laws should not be used to target a person's religious beliefs. The Constitution provides protection against laws against "impeding the free exercise of religion" and that right, like so many of other Constitutional rights, are slowly but surely being violated until we have been conditioned to the point that we no longer have those rights at all.

The laws do not target religious beliefs.  You can always believe whatever you want.  The laws do target Behavior.  it is always difficult to explain the law to people who are not lawyers, but even though you don't believe the two concepts are different, you may have to take this statement on faith.

This is not a matter of just simply choosing a client, it is a matter of a person's deeply held religious belief and the law compelling them to violate it.

What you are arguing for is, "Religious views should trump each and every law that is on the books . . . or, at least, all anti-discrimination laws."  This is exactly the argument that was made a half-century ago, to discriminate against blacks.  There are lots of people who have sincerely-held religious beliefs that hold that blacks are inferior, or that Jews are corrupt and evil, or that the disabled and mentally infirm are mistakes of nature and should be excluded from society, and so on and so on.   You are asking for the right to refuse service at your restaurant (dry cleaners, photo studio, hardware store, etc) to a person with dark skin, as long as you belong to a religion that supports such an action.  If your view was accepted by the courts, we would soon be living in a crap-hole of a country, where people were free to discriminate on almost any basis (People would soon learn to claim affiliation with whatever church was needed in order to be able to discriminate . . . remember that courts are VERY reluctant to investigate a person's claim of religious beliefs.)  What a terrible result that would be.

So, I don't give a damn that you (in this hypo . . . which we all know does NOT really reflect you in real life) don't like black people, and that you don't want to serve them in your restaurant.  I don't care that you belong to a religion that says "blacks are elevated monkeys."  You can hold whatever evil beliefs you want in your heart.  And when you go to church, you can be around people who share your beliefs.  I'll even support your right to have your donations to that church remain tax-deductible.  But if you want to provide services to the public at large, then you will have to allow blacks to eat at your restaurants.  And disabled customers.  And Jews, and Muslims, and women.  And so on.  Thank God we live in a country where the courts agree with my position, and do not agree with yours.

Should not "tolerance" be practiced by gay people too? If they have no tolerance for a Christian photographer's belief then perhaps they should be as tolerant as they wish others to be and just move on and find a photographer who is willing to take them on as a client. I do not equate standing up for my beliefs with discrimination.

Surprisingly, I agree with you.  I understand that people want to make the societal, political point that discrimination is not acceptable.  But for a special day like a wedding, I would want a photographer who wants to be there.  I don't see how a bigoted and prejudiced photographer can do his or her best work, and I would want the photographs of my wedding to be treasures we keep for the rest of our lives.  So, I did find the plaintiffs' actions odd in that respect.

On your last sentence, I do not agree.  I have found it very common in my dual careers (as a lawyer and, before, as a therapist) for bigots to explain away their actions and beliefs.  This is not surprising . . . no people want to admit to themselves that they are acting in a prejudiced way, so we invent all sorts of explanations to excuse our otherwise-abhorrent behavior.  So, I accept that you do not see your own actions as discrimination.  And I'm sure you accept that many many many many others do see you as discriminating.  (Or, at least, as wanting to discriminate, if only the laws would change and would allow you to.)

I actually have some sympathy for your position...it's a good general rule that people should be allowed to choose their clients. And this is especially true for people who make the decision to work for themselves--one of the big advantages seems like it should be that we can pick and choose the work we do.

But, as a society, we have decided as a group (ie, through passing anti-discrimination laws) that the advantages of giving photographers (bakers, et al) this freedom is outweighed by the rights of gays (women, minorities, religious groups, etc) to be free from discrimination.

Again, I don't equate this with discrimination. A person simply refuses to take part in a celebration that violates his/her religious principles.

No, you are making a false statement.  No one can force you to take part in a celebration.  If a friend invites you to her wedding celebration, you are free to decline, due to her race, her husband's race, the distance from your home, illness, or any other factor.  What you are talking about is refusing to provide your usual and customary business services at an event that violates your religious views.  This might seem like a minor distinction, but I find that when talking about especially emotional issues, it is helpful to use words and terms as accurately as possible.

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