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The vetoed bill that never existed

"The vetoed bill that never existed" Continued...

Amid a rapidly changing legal and cultural landscape, conservative state legislatures are considering laws to protect wedding vendors, and other businesses, from discrimination claims. In addition to Arizona, nine other states have taken up similar legislation, although the legal methods they use differ. In the midst of the Arizona debate, legislators in Ohio, Idaho, Kansas, and Georgia withdrew or stalled their bills. Legislation is still pending in Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Missouri.

But none of those laws may matter after next month, when the U.S. Supreme Court announces whether it will take Elaine Huguenin’s case. Despite the vociferous denunciations of Arizona’s law, even same-sex marriage supporters have filed briefs in support of Huguenin’s right not to be forced to create art that promotes something she doesn’t believe in. Serving gay customers and being forced to work for them are two very different things, wrote Eugene Volokh of the UCLA School of Law and Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute.

“Democracy and liberty rely on citizens’ ability to preserve their integrity as speakers, thinkers, and creators—their sense that their expression, and the expression that they ‘foster’ and for which they act as ‘courier[s],’ is consistent with what they actually believe,” Volokh and Shapiro noted in their friend of the court brief.

The distinction between creating and serving lie at the heart of the discrimination claims against Huguenin and the other wedding vendor businesses. None of the businesses being labeled as bigots refused to serve gay customers. They only refused to participate in their same-sex ceremonies. And that right of refusal is protected under the First Amendment, Huguenin’s attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom maintain. It also extends to businesses or professionals—marketers, advertisers, publicists, website designers, writers, videographers, and photographers—being forced to create something with which they disagree, for religious reasons or otherwise.

“Just as it requires Ms. Huguenin to create expression communicating messages that conflict with her beliefs about marriage, the decision below would require a gay photographer to create pictures of a religious-based event opposing same-sex marriage, even if doing so would force him to create images expressing messages contrary to his deeply held beliefs,” the lawyers wrote in their brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. “Thus, the freedom of all conscientious professionals—no matter what they believe—hangs in the balance.”

The media’s false witness in Arizona

By Lynde Langdon & Steve Jordahl

Media coverage of the Arizona religious freedom bill was biased from the start, Tim Graham of the Media Research Center said. Stories by CNN and other news outlets left out the voices of anyone in favor of the bill.

“The left is going to win one way or the other, and you have to look at the national media as just another propaganda, public relations bullying force,” Graham said.

When conservative voices were heard at all in the Arizona story, they were sometimes hard to understand. One person interviewed by ABC said, “I want for us to be able to have our businesses and also be able to have our values respected.”

Ben Shapiro of Breitbart.com put it this way: “If an alien were to land on earth today and watch the media coverage of the Arizona law, he would likely believe that the American people are incredibly homophobic, and that only the massive bulwark of government prevents Americans from routinely lynching gays and lesbians.”

In an analysis of The Arizona Republic’s coverage of the bill, Bobby Ross Jr. of Patheos.com said the paper did a better job, giving almost equal word count to both sides of the debate.

Listen to Nick Eicher and John Stonestreet discuss the vetoed bill on The World in Everything in It:

Leigh Jones
Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Atlanta and is the managing editor of WORLD's website.

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