Tuesday, September 16, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Religious liberty or discrimination in Kansas?

By
From page A7 | February 21, 2014 |

The Kansas legislature last week found itself on the verge of passing a bill that would protect any worker – in a private business or in government – who refused service to individuals because of the worker’s religious opposition to gay marriage.

The bill’s backers said it protected religious freedom, while opponents said it enshrined discrimination in state law. After an outcry, legislative leaders halted the bill and promised to retool it in more palatable fashion.

Where is the line between religious liberty and discrimination? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the Red-Blue America columnists, debate the issue.

Joel Mathis

The first thing you should know is that most Kansans hate Fred Phelps, the notorious anti-gay preacher whose church has spent the last few decades obnoxiously protesting at the funerals of soldiers, politicians and other innocents in order to spread his homophobic views as widely as possible.

The second thing you should know is this: If a “religious freedom” bill passes, the Kansas legislature in any form similar to the one that nearly won approval last week – well, Kansas will be tied more tightly, and perhaps permanently, to the Phelps legacy than ever before. You don’t have to shout, “God hates fags” at the top of your lungs to put Phelps’ philosophy into action.

The third thing you should know is this: The only reason the bill exists is hysteria.

Yes, in Colorado, a gay couple sued a cake maker who refused his services for their wedding. But unlike Colorado, Kansas has no legal protections for gays and lesbians. They have no legal standing to sue anybody for any reason connected to their sexuality. So a bill protecting Christians from gay lawsuits accomplishes almost nothing but whip up emotions on all sides of the issue.

Except this: It sends a signal, loud and clear, to Kansans and the rest of the world, that there is one group – and one group only – that the state gives explicit permission to discriminate against: Gay and lesbian Kansans.

That’s a breathtaking achievement. And it is wrong.

The original bill even exempted government workers from serving, if they objected on religious principles. Can you imagine a police officer refusing to help a gay crime victim? A firefighter refusing to fight a fire at a gay-owned business or house?

There’s a reason Kansas’ conservative legislators are attempting to push a bill that makes second-class citizens out of the state’s gays and lesbians: They know they are losing the cultural battle. More than ever, they’re demonstrating why they should lose. But at least they’re making Fred Phelps proud.

Ben Boychuk

The question in Kansas and anywhere else good people are trying to make sense of a rapidly changing social landscape boils down to one thing and one thing only: coercion.

Will the state force a florist, a caterer, a photographer, or a baker – to name only a handful – to provide goods and services to anyone, contrary to their own consciences and religious beliefs? Kansas legislators are attempting to answer that question in the negative, and they’re right to do so.

Maybe the better question is how so many people have simply forgotten the old-fashioned idea of mutual consent.

Some ill-informed commentators have compared what’s happening in Kansas to the old Jim Crow laws that marred the South for much of the 20th century before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They forget that Jim Crow forced businesses to discriminate and segregate by race.

The Kansas bill, by contrast, would do nothing more than free private citizens from legal consequences if they choose not to do business associated with same-sex marriage.

Compulsion versus choice: see the difference?

It would be a different story if you could only choose from one baker or one photographer in your state, rather than simply take your business elsewhere.

And if the government only provided the bakers or photographers, we wouldn’t be having this argument. As it happens, one version of the Kansas bill unwisely included government employees under its protections. Government should never discriminate.

In all likelihood, however, the Kansas bill will come to nothing. When the U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled on the gay marriage cases, I wrote in this space: “If the law says there can be no ‘rational basis’ for treating the union between a man and a woman as something unique . . .  then it really doesn’t matter what your conscience tells you.”

Kansas lawmakers are fighting a valiant but doomed effort to preserve a shred of liberty rightly understood – liberty of conscience, liberty of contract, liberty of property, liberty of association. The courts and the culture have shifted. We have very few of those old liberties left. But, oh goodness, do we have coercion galore.

Ben Boychuk (bboychuk@city-journal.org) is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. Joel Mathis (joelmmathis@gmail.com) is associate editor for Philadelphia Magazine. Website: www.facebook.com/benandjoel

Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • The MisterFebruary 21, 2014 - 6:59 am

    Natural Law dictates that individuals have an unlimited right to contract... or to not contract. When the government forces an individual to contract against his will, the government is forcibly violating that man's rights. Yes, the government already violates many of our rights... but that doesn't mean they can violate even more. What it means is that individuals must begin standing up to the government and reclaim their rights.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PornacFebruary 21, 2014 - 7:43 am

    Discrimination keeps them others down. Get a gun too!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PornacFebruary 21, 2014 - 8:04 am

    Businesses that serve gays are assisting satan to destroy mankind.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Police enlist help to find armed bandit

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5, 9 Comments | Gallery

 
Chamber PAC draws candidates to Jelly Belly

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
 
Weather for Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

Coastal Cleanup Day targets local waterways

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Drama reigns supreme with week’s film debuts

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Judge questions juror in Calkins case

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

Suisun City slaying suspect case moves forward

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Touro University to host Zombie Run/Walk

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

Land trust organizes Rockville Trails Preserve hike

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
.

US / World

6 killed, 15 wounded in east Ukraine city

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Afghan suicide bomber kills 3 foreign troops

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
State Sen. Wright resigns after voter fraud case

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

Gazans rush to enjoy life after ruinous war

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Decades later, Vietnam soldiers get Medal of Honor

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Mystery airstrikes target Libyan Islamist militias

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Tiny Qatar plays outsize role in US war strategy

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Generation gap: Young Scots favor independence

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Police: Rifle used to ambush Pennsylvania troopers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Hurricane Odile slams Mexico’s Baja California

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
House GOP moves ahead on Syrian rebel training

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Kerry: US open to talks with Iran on Islamic State

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Poll: Voters support legal path for immigrants

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 2 Comments

Man suspected of firing on kids at ice cream truck

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
NASA inspector blasts asteroid protection program

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

Officials disclose Delaware funeral home Jonestown remains

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Southern California swelters in heat wave

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Northern California wildfire burns 100 homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
9 hurt in crash on SF Bay Area freeway

By The Associated Press | From Page:

PG&E officials removed for improper communications

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Chicago, NY, Hawaii on Obama library’s short list

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 2 Comments | Gallery

Powerful Washington lobbyist Boggs dies at 73

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Opinion

 
Column focus on campaign signs misplaced

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 8 Comments

.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: , 1 Comment

 
.

Entertainment

Apple releases tool to remove free U2 album

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Cat Stevens announces brief US concert tour

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Forward-thinking U2 innovating while entertaining

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Revamped ‘View’ begins its daytime run

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Clooney to receive HFPA’s Cecil B. DeMille Award

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Exhibition looks at genius of carousel inventor

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Miss America: More to worry about than red cup

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Protocol followed in detention of actress

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Jean Paul Gaultier to stop making ready-to-wear

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane sentenced in assault

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Bob Crewe, ‘Walk Like a Man’ writer, dead at 83

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
TVGrid Seot 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Diamondbacks knock off Giants 6-2

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Prep boys soccer: Vanden wins, Armijo ties, VCS falls

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

Prep volleyball: VCS swept by Woodland Christian

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
Foles leads Eagles to 30-27 win against Colts

By The Associated Press | From Page:

This date in sports history for Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Cardinals manager can relate to Stanton incident

By The Associated Press | From Page:

As troops exit, Britain aids soccer in Afghanistan

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
US uses big third quarter to pull away from Canada

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Backup QBs make their marks in Week 2

By Barry Wilner | From Page:

 
NFL, union close to finalizing new drug policy

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Tanaka 5 scoreless innings in instructional league

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Mets rookie deGrom ties K mark; Marlins win 6-5

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Papelbon suspended 7 games by MLB

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Dream Team, Barcelona Games continue to impact NBA

By The Associated Press | From Page:

US basketball reigns in Spain, awaits Rio Olympics

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
AP Source: Raiders to sign WR Vincent Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Raiders embarrassed after 0-2 start

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Redskins optimistic RG3 will return this season

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Pistorius free to compete, SA Olympic body says

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Woods says strength is back, but not swing

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Domestic violence experts added as NFL advisers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Union expects to file Rice appeal Tuesday

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Vikings bring back Peterson despite abuse charge

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Patriots still not quite right with ball

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Harbaugh: McDonald’s legal process must play out

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Business

US wealth gap putting the squeeze on state revenue

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Speculation swirls over Fed language on rate hike

By The Associated Press | From Page:

GM expert says 19 deaths eligible for compensation

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Once-troubled reverse mortgages poised for rebound

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Apple: Record 4M orders of iPhones on 1st day

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
‘Minecraft’ could boost Microsoft’s mobile reach

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Stocks mixed ahead of Fed; small companies slump

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Obituaries

Minnie Lee Dixon

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Baby Blues Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baldo Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Crossword Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sally Forth Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Bridge Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield September 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Rose is Rose Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5