UNITED STATES: by Hal G.P. ColebatchNews Weekly
Servicemen, small businesses targeted for 'homophobia'
, June 21, 2014
“Homophobia” — so-called — looks like replacing terrorism as the No. 1 preoccupation of sections of the United States armed forces as well as sections of civil society.
Denver cakeshop owner Jack Phillips
U.S. service personnel are being confronted with intrusive questionnaires, not about what their attitude to homosexuality is, but what it has ever been, even, presumably, in childhood. A wrong answer — disapproval — may mean a terminated career, even for long-serving and decorated personnel.
In America, the anti-“homophobia” crusade is widening, though it seems probable that it will also widen in Australia to target small businesses whose proprietors show religious objections to homosexuality.
Militant homosexuals in the U.S., with government backing, are not only targeting suspected homophobes in the armed forces, but also picking off businesses whose proprietors refuse to condone homosexual behaviour and homosexual marriage, generally for religious reasons.
The announced goal is to “change the hearts and minds of Americans to ‘equality’…” and away from Judeo-Christian values, though in fact “equality” seems the last thing the activists are demanding.
However, some resistance has been organised in America to provide legal services and other support for businesses and individuals so targeted.
In Denver, Colorado, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips was sued by two homosexual lovers, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, because he declined to create a wedding cake for the couple’s union.
It didn’t matter that same-sex marriage is illegal in Colorado, or that the couple got hitched in Massachusetts to circumvent the Colorado law. Nor did it matter that the couple had offers from other bakers to do their “union” cake, or that several of those offers were considerably less expensive.
The far-left American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) jumped at the chance to attack another Christian-run business. A seven-member panel found against the bakery owner and handed down a punitive judgment.
Further, in what must strike many as a shocking assault on individual freedom and dignity, administrative law judge Robert Spencer ordered both Phillips and his presumably “innocent” staff to go through a “sensitivity training course”.
That was not the end of the story. Ludicrously, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, to which Phillips appealed, not only rejected his appeal but solemnly ordered him to bake a wedding cake for the couple.
Barronelle Stutzman, 69, owner of
Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts
Over the next two years Phillips will also be required to submit quarterly reports to the Civil Rights Commission concerning his business practices, informing the commission whether he has turned any business away, most importantly homosexual customers.
“So if his shop is closed or he’s out of flour, he needs to report to the commission,” explained Nicolle Martin of the conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which has represented Phillips in this case.
According to investigator Joanne Moudy, the owner of a small photography business in the state of New Mexico, where same-sex marriage is legal, Elaine Huguenin, got an inquiry from one Vanessa Willock, requesting a “wedding” photograph of her union with another woman.
Elaine Huguenin didn’t know that Willock had sent similar e-mails to other photographers and had already received positive responses from several who were willing to film Vanessa’s lesbian union.
Further, at least one of those photographers was less expensive. In fact, Huguenin had no idea that Willock was on an expedition to pick out any photographer who for religious reasons would not do the work.
Elaine Huguenin found herself in a court battle which all but cost her and her husband their business and home. She was ordered to pay Willock’s costs of more than $6,600.
Jordan Lorence, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, has said of this case: “The idea that free people can be ‘compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives’ as the ‘price of citizenship’ is a chilling and unprecedented attack on freedom.
“We are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to make it clear that no American has to abandon their constitutionally protected freedoms just to make a living. No American should be punished or put out of business simply for disagreeing with the government’s opinion on a moral issue.”
ADF legal counsel Jim Campbell added: “Every artist must be free to create work that expresses what he or she believes and not be forced by the government to express opposing views. Should the government force an African-American photographer to take pictures of a Ku Klux Klan rally? A government that can force anyone to promote messages against his or her will is a government out of control.”
Barronelle Stutzman, 68-year-old owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts, in Richland, in the State of Washington, had been personally serving her homosexual client Robert Ingersoll for more than a decade. According to investigator Joanne Moudy, she enjoyed his company and they had become well acquainted.
However, when he approached her and asked her to do the floral arrangements for his upcoming union to Curt Freed, she respectfully declined, saying, “I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.” That was the first wedding assignment Barronelle Stutzman had turned down in 37 years.
Ingersoll respected her scruples. They hugged each other and he left the shop. But his partner Curt wasn’t so tolerant and posted the details on Facebook.
The shop’s five phone lines began ringing non-stop, with hate calls from all over the country. Those calls were followed by hundreds of threatening emails and dozens of letters, eventually stacking over a metre high.
Then the Washington State Attorney-General, Bob Ferguson, joined in. According to the ADF, the State of Washington in 2012 had more than 200 murders, 2,100 rapes, 5,700 robberies and 12,200 aggravated assaults.
However, Mr Ferguson took time out from combating serious crime to check Facebook, single out Barronelle Stutzman and charge her with discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
At the time of Ferguson’s lawsuit against Barronelle Stutzman, neither of the two homosexual men had lodged any complaint. Ferguson filed the suit against the florist anyway, without a plaintiff.
According to the HuffPost Gay Voices, Ferguson said, “It’s my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington. Under the Consumer Protection Act, it’s unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation.”
Moudy commented, “Apparently, all those murderers and rapists are less threatening than a 68-year-old Christian businesswoman.”
Barronelle Stutzman is defending herself, also with the help of the ADF, and has also recently filed a countersuit against Ferguson. Again, the ACLU joined in the prosecution.
The Attorney General’s Office is reportedly seeking a permanent injunction that would require Stutzman’s business to comply with the state’s consumer protection laws, as well as pay $2,000 in fines for every violation of the law.
Dale Schowengerdt, another ADF senior counsel, points out, “In America, the government is supposed to protect freedom, not use its intolerance for certain viewpoints to intimidate citizens into acting contrary to their faith or convictions.”
If Attorney General Ferguson prevails, the various fines and charges will cripple Barronelle Stutzman and put her out of business, for following her faith.
Denny Burk, associate professor of Biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, said: “I hope people will see this for what it is — persecution.”
Hal G.P. Colebatch, PhD, is a Perth author and lawyer.
“Barronelle Stutzman, Washington florist who rejected gay couple, faces lawsuit from state attorney general”, Huffington Post, October 4, 2013.
Jack Minor, “Supreme Court asked to rule on ‘compelled’ support of lesbian lifestyle”, U.S. Finance Post, November 10, 2013.
Denny Burk, “The Barronelle Stutzman story”, Denny Burk blog, March 13, 2014.
“Charlie Craig and David Mullins v. Masterpiece Cakeshop”, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), May 30, 2014.
Todd Starnes, “Baker forced to make gay wedding cakes, undergo sensitivity training, after losing lawsuit”, Fox News, June 3, 2014.
Curtis M. Wong, “Masterpiece Cakeshop’s Jack Phillips vows to stop making wedding cakes altogether after court rules in favor of gay couple”, Huffington Post, June 3, 2014.
Joanne Moudy, “Armed and dangerous: The terrorism of the LGBT radicals”, Tonwhall.com, June 8, 2014.