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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 10, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 10
Letters
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Letters

It's not about the damn flowers

To the Editor:

Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud, of the Washington Supreme Court, got it right that Richland WA florist Barronelle Stutzman's refusal to serve a gay couple, because of her religious beliefs, was no more about flowers than civil rights cases of the 1960s were about access to sandwiches. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 'Morals cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. The law cannot make an employer love, but it can keep him from refusing to hire me because of the color of my skin.' So too the law can regulate public accommodations and keep a merchant from denying me service because of my real or perceived sexual orientation.

The Washington Supreme Court's decision was neither 'radical' nor 'revolutionary.' Rather, it conforms to United States Supreme Court case law, as far back as 139 years ago. In Reynolds v. United States (1878), a case involving Mormon polygamy, the Court rejected a First Amendment right to plural marriage, based on sincerely held religious belief. They said, 'To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and, in effect, to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances.'

In a more contemporary Supreme Court decision, in 1990, Employment Division, of Human Services of Oregon v. Smith, then-Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for a unanimous Court, which included then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, wrote, 'We have never held that an individual's beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. ...the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition. ...the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a 'valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).'



There's nothing humble, about Richland florist Barronelle Stutzman. Her actions and assertions demonstrated the arrogance of Christian privilege. What she advocated wasn't freedom of religion, but rather license of religion, which is the forerunner of theocratic fascism. She is real world proof of the need for the First Amendment, in order to protect others from persons like herself.

Sincerely,

Steven L. Kendall

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Moisture Festival of Comedy/Varietè turns 14

Expect unleashed revelry, extraordinary performances & special events March 16-April 9

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CORRECTION
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Seattle Fringe Festival returns March 23-April 1
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Remembering TCM host Robert Osborne (1932-2017)

My 2009 interview with a Hollywood legend

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