In April, an administrative judge with the Oregon Department of Labor ordered Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of the now shuttered bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa, to pay a fine of $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian couple's wedding. While there's a case the couple violated the state's public accommodation laws, there's little doubt that the fine was excessive and the reasoning for it specious. (For more on the plight of Kleins, see THE WEEKLY STANDARD editorial, "Bake Me a Cake -- or Else.")
Despite losing their business and facing a hefty fine they can't afford, the Kleins continue to stand by their Christian convictions and fight the ruling. However, the state just finalized the ruling against the Kleins and added a new wrinkle. According to the state, the Kleins are now forbidden from talking about the ruling.* Here's the relevant portion of the decision:
*I have been accused as describing the effect of the gag order too broadly. But it seems to me there is no way that these people can both continue as bakers and express their beliefs or explain how their beliefs affect their behavior without violating this order. And if you think that straining to interpret such generic sentiments as a sign saying "we will stand strong" on the door of your business to be incitement for prior restraint -- as Avakian did in his ruling -- we're on a tobbogan ride down the slippery slope toward state-sponsored censorship.
June, for conservatives, has been of late the “cruelest month” at the Supreme Court, as the decisions finally roll forth. Many expect—with a combination of apprehension and resignation—that in the critical case of Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Anthony Kennedy will furnish the fifth vote for installing same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.
Over the last few years, the gay marriage movement has transformed from "equality for all" to "bake me a cake." As it picks up steam, the movement looks more and more totalitarian, both at home and abroad.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the controversial Muslim-turned-atheist, told a National Press Club audience last week some hard facts about Islam and its propensity toward violence. But her remarks about Christianity—about its capacity to soften sectarian hatreds—may prove an even tougher pill to swallow.
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal talked about religious liberty on NBC's Meet the Press this morning:
"Well let me ask you this," Todd said. "Do you agree with some other folks and conservatives that you think Governor Pence and Governor Hutchinson in Arkansas and Indiana have essentially caved too much pressure?"
On the topic of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the contraceptive mandate case decided on the last day of the recent Supreme Court term, the Democrats are fighting mad. They don’t like the decision. No, they despise it. Indeed, their rhetoric on Hobby Lobby has become so misleading, even strange, that the fact checkers at the Washington Post have felt compelled to call them to task, reminding the Democrats, among other things, that the decision does not outlaw contraceptives, and it does not allow bosses to prevent women from seeking birth control.
Yesterday, Senator Barbara Boxer had an op-ed at the Huffington Post about, among other related issues, the nonexistant threat that women will be denied birth control to treat medical conditions as a result of the Hobby Lobby decision. I personally know someone who works for a religious organization that doesn't cover contraception, but is nonetheless on the pill for a medical condition and gets it covered.
Senator Ted Cruz has organized an effort to urge President Barack Obama to help free Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American pastor imprisoned in Iran.
“The President of the United States is in a unique position to focus international attention on the unjust and abusive detention of one of our citizens,” Cruz says in a press release. “There might also be an opportunity for administration officials participating in nuclear negotiations in Geneva this week to raise the issue directly with their Iranian counterparts. Time is of the essence given Pastor Saeed's current predicament.”
On August 22, the New Mexico supreme court unanimously ruled that a wedding photographer broke the law by refusing to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. While gay rights advocates are celebrating this latest in a string of legal and political victories, the outcome of Elane Photography v. Vanessa Willock has alarmed religious liberty advocates. And it could end up having a profound influence on First Amendment jurisprudence.
In Sioux City, Iowa, a local pastor is asking for the removal of a newly appointed member of the city's human rights commission. The city council appointed Scott Raasch to the commission, which adjudicates discrimination complaints, on July 8. However, the Rev.
Obamacare won’t just ruin health care. It is also a cultural bulldozer. Before the law is even fully in effect, Health and Human Services bureaucrats have begun wielding their sweeping new powers to assault freedom of religion in the name of their preferred social order.
A recent federal trial court ruling has warmed the hearts of social conservatives and civil libertarians alike. A judge in Colorado on July 27 protected a Catholic-owned small business against the “free birth control rule”—which requires companies subject to the Affordable Care Act to offer their employees free contraception, sterilization, and other “preventive” services.
It's no secret that things are not going well for the Obama campaign. The President has been forced to veer to the left on gay marriage, immigration and a host of issues to shore up his base. And even as unemployment is ticking ominously upward, gaffes and ill thought out statements on the economy—"the private sector's doing fine" and "you didn't build that"—are confirming the suspicions of independents and moderates that Obama really is the redistributionist radical that his critics have been warning about.