Religious groups are feeling their oats following their success in the Hobby Lobby case to carve out a religious exemption for themselves from following the law if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Now comes word that legislators in some states are seeking to expand that practice and allow businesses to not serve gay people if they disapprove of homosexuality on religious grounds.
Conservative lawmakers in states nationwide are pushing to expand the right of individuals and businesses not to provide certain services to same-sex couples on religious grounds.
In North Carolina, for example, a state legislator has proposed allowing government workers to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples even though such unions are now legal. A bill in Texas would permit voters to amend the state constitution in a way that supporters say would enhance religious liberty but critics warn would harm the civil rights of gays and others.
A legislative fight is underway in Michigan, where the state House recently passed a set of contentious religious liberties bills, including some that would allow adoption agencies to refuse placements that violate their faith.
“As more states have marriage that includes two men or two women, more people are going to be confronted with a decision: Do I follow my conscience, politely decline to participate in a same-sex celebration and be punished? Or do I surrender my freedom to live and work faithfully at the government’s command?” said Greg Scott, spokesman for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that is advising state legislatures and represents about half a dozen business owners.
James Esseks, director of the LGBT and AIDS project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said that forces that oppose gay rights and were unable to stop the legalization of same-sex marriage in the courts and statehouses have turned to a new strategy. They are “using religious freedom arguments in an effort to justify anti-gay discrimination because they want to ensure LGBT equality doesn’t affect them,” he said.
One did not have to be Nostradamus to see that the Supreme Court decision would lead to such things. They have made a mess and it is only going to get messier.