Earlier this year, Mark Hemingway reported in these pages on the bureaucratic busybodies at state and local “human rights” commissions trampling all over the First Amendment (“The Sensitivity Apparat,” February 4). In the last few years, they’ve been particularly aggressive at enforcing an absurdly expansive view of gay rights using the threat of civil fines and dragging businesses and religious organizations through years of administrative hearings over petty complaints.
Examples abound: The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights stripped a Methodist organization of tax-exempt status for declining to let their worship space be used for a lesbian commitment ceremony. The New Mexico Human Rights Commission fined a Christian couple who own a wedding photography business $6,637 for not wanting to photograph a gay commitment ceremony. A Vermont inn paid $30,000 to settle a human rights commission complaint over an employee misrepresenting the couple and their attempt to comply with a law forcing them to host same-sex weddings. A Kentucky printer currently faces charges by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission for refusing to print T-shirts promoting a local gay rights event.
The Scrapbook has long suspected that this targeting of religious objections to same-sex marriage is driven by some not-so-healthy impulses, and for proof of that we draw your attention to a small local drama playing out in Sioux City, Iowa, where a pastor is asking for the removal of a newly appointed member of the city’s human rights commission. The city council on July 8 appointed Scott Raasch to the commission, which adjudicates discrimination complaints. However, the Rev. Cary Gordon of Cornerstone World Outreach brought to light threatening comments Raasch had left on Gordon’s Facebook page over Gordon’s vocal opposition to the Iowa supreme court’s legalizing gay marriage. According to the report from the Sioux City Journal:
In one comment, Raasch wrote: “You are haters and bigots and you will get what’s coming to you sooner or later. I hope you rot in hell.”
Gordon replied, “I hope you repent of your sins and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. I wouldn’t want you or anyone else to go to hell.”
Raasch wrote, “I know Christ and don’t need a snake oil salesman like you to tell me about him. I guess that’s the difference between us because I think there are many people that deserve to burn in hell . . . including you and your entire family.”
“He gives blatant death wishes to anyone who disagrees with his political or sexual views,” Gordon said Thursday. “He is obviously unstable and filled with raging hatred.”
Raasch has since apologized, saying, “I would like to say that if I caused him or his family any stress, I do apologize for that, as that was not my intention.” That’s an interesting way to phrase it. The Scrapbook wonders what exactly was the intention of those remarks.
Regardless, two of Sioux City’s five city council members are standing by Raasch and say they expect him to adjudicate discrimination complaints fairly. And if you believe that, we’d like to sell you the Siouxland Veterans Memorial Bridge.