In a new video in its Stoplight series, Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink outlet has revealed its backward understanding of nondiscrimination protections that are LGBT-inclusive. In the clip, Stuart Shepard explains to CitizenLink President Tom Minnery that when there’s a “tie” between Christians and other people that are protected, the Christians “lose.” Among his examples is the Oregon bakery that was found in violation of state law for refusing to provide a wedding cake to a same-sex couple:
SHEPARD: Here’s a cake baker in Oregon. Two women asked them to make a cake for their wedding. The Christian owners said they could not use their artistic ability to make a one-of-a-kind cake to celebrate something they do not support. The state pointed to the civil rights law that was amendment a few years ago to include orientation and said the Christians lose… The Oregon civil rights law also lists religion as a protected class, but activists are leveraging those laws to push Christians right out of business. When it’s a tie, the Christians lose.
Shepard goes on to cite the Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision as another supposed example of discrimination against Christians. Watch it:
Shepard is right that religion is a protected class in Oregon, but he’s wrong about what that entitles Christians to. Oregon’s law applies only in specific contexts, such as employment, housing, and public accommodations — the latter being the relevant one to the bakery. A public store-front business is a public accommodation, and so it is illegal to provide wedding cakes to straight couples and not to gay couples. Similarly, it would be illegal to provide wedding cakes to Jewish couples and not Christian couples, and in such a case, the Christian couple would be protected by the same law. Therefore, both classes are protected equally. There is no protection in the law related to how to run a business.
What Focus on the Family’s political action arm is calling a “tie” is actually a false comparison. This was not a case of gay people vs. Christians to see who wins — it was a case about making sure that all people are treated equally and offered the same protection under the law. The same is true of women, whose access to health care should not be determined by the religious whims of the owner of the business they might work for. These false conflicts — between Christians and the gay community and between Christians and women — ignore the intersectionality of these identities, instead attempting to portray one particular group of conservative Christians as victims.
What organizations like Focus on the Family actually seem to want is not a game where the rules are fair, but one in which they always get their way.