Religious Beliefs and Gay Rights at Center of Court Case

Religious Beliefs and Gay Rights at Center of Court Case

Kim Burrell
(Image: Thinkstock)
(Image: File)

According to Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a republican from Colorado Springs, “it’s not the government’s job to force him (Jack Phillips) to violate his conscience and every citizen should be frightened that special interests want to take away your right to your religious beliefs. We should all say no to that,”

On the other side of the argument, notes ACLU of Colorado Legal Director, Mark Silverstein, “nobody gets to pick and choose which laws they want to follow. If a business owner is allowed to simply cite personal beliefs as a basis for turning away same-sex couples, then what stops a doctor from denying medical care or a pharmacist from denying a prescription?”

When businesses and other institutions that serve the public have sought exemptions to laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the courts have held that businesses are required to comply with LGBT discrimination laws, reports the ACLU. The courts have ruled without regard to whether LGBT people could have obtained the goods or services elsewhere.  Instead the courts have recognized the harm to the notion of equal opportunity if LGBT people can be turned away from businesses otherwise open to the public because of who they are.

“This case has never been about cakes. Let me be clear: This is about sending a message that ‘open for business’ in America means open to all,” ACLU Deputy Director, Louise Melling, stated. “We strongly believe that freedom of religion is our constitutional right and we will continue to defend it, but religion should not be used as an excuse to discriminate. That’s why we’re fighting for Dave and Charlie and others who are victims of discrimination in the name of religion.”

Some LGBT advocates also argue that religious freedom was used in the past to justify laws and discrimination against people based on race and gender.