Friday, June 22, 2012

How far will the religious right take the 'religious liberty' argument?

An incident took place in Illinois recently which illustrates how dangerous this religious liberty card that the religious right pushes can be so dangerous:

A same-sex couple from Davenport, Iowa says they were banned from possibly renting a Moline, Illinois reception hall because they are gay.

The manager of the University Club in downtown Moline confirms she refused to let the couple see or rent the space for a reception because of her religious beliefs.

Taylor Shumaker says she called the University Club on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 to inquire about the place. She says bar manager Kristen Stewart offered to give Shumaker a tour and asked if her fiance would be coming.

“And she asked if ‘he’ would be coming and I just said, ‘No, it’s not actually a ‘he’, it’s a ‘she.’ And she said, ‘Excuse me?’” recounted Shumaker.

“I said, ‘It’s a woman,’ and she said, ‘Oh, we don’t rent to homosexual couples’”

 . . . In a phone interview with WQAD, Stewart says it is all true, and defended her right to refusal.

“I am a biblical Christian and I do not believe in homosexual marriage, that’s correct. And because marriage is a covenant that God created for man and woman, as a biblical Christian, I cannot help them into or celebrate that sin,” said Stewart.

But there is a problem with this. Stewart was the manager. She is not the owner of the hall.

 The article further states:

Stewart is the wife of the president of the University Club, and daughter-in-law of its owners.

She says the family discussed the issue of gay marriage receptions after neighboring state Iowa approved same-sex marriage and Illinois endorsed civil unions.

“My husband’s family does not hold the same view. If there is a homosexual couple I will pass them on to them. I have told him if they want to do homosexual receptions I would not have any part of that. He and his family have decided they will,” Stewart said.

Her husband, Perry Stewart, later told WQAD that his wife initially “mis-spoke” to Taylor Shumaker and there is no ban on same-sex marriages at his banquet hall.

From it looks like, the owners of the hall may not have had a problem with the lesbian couple renting it for their reception. So does Stewart's religious beliefs allow her to discriminate in regards to property that she doesn't even own?

Now the religious right likes to push the argument that gay rights will supposedly force business owners to go back on their personal religious beliefs. They further say that even if it's a secular business, the owners should be allowed to discriminate in accordance to their religious beliefs.

But what about managers? Should they be allowed to discriminate with property they don't even own?

Let's take it further. What if a server in a restaurant doesn't want to serve a gay couple and gets fired for it.

Is it farfetched to think that if this incident happens one day, a religious right organization (such as the Alliance Defense Fund or the Thomas More Law Center) will sue the owner of the restaurant for forcing the serving to act against his/her religious beliefs?

Don't laugh. Think about it.

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PJB863 said...

Although Illinois doesn't have marriage equality yet, it is still a violation of the Illinois Human Rights act. She's in deep kimchee.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I emailed them and told them the bar manager should understand business is about making money, not alienating people.

I even included my real info. If they contact me, so much the better.

Steve - Bos said...

I wonder if religionists will ever get it though their thick heads that freedom of religion doesn't mean that they are guaranteed to never ever encounter anything that conflicts with their chosen brand of superstition. You have the right to worship freely. You don't have the right to live in a society where you'll never have to interact with people who don't worship as you do. I've had it with this nonsense!

Anonymous said...

Religious freedom and being prevented from "doing things that are against your religion" are badly misinterpreted.

Religious freedom is not forcing an orthodox jew to eat pork, and allowing him to bring food from home if the company cafeteria doesn't offer kosher options.

It is not about allowing an orthodox jewish clerk to refuse to file the paperwork that gives a barbecue restaurant the right to operate.

Because his religion doesn't have a prohibition against filing paperwork, and that's what he's being asked to do.

This woman's religion doesn't forbid her to rent the property to paying customers. It forbids her to marry another woman - and nobody is asking her to do anything of the sort.

This doesn't even touch on her religious freedom. She's free to believe what she wants, worship as she pleases, and to be free from being forced to marry someone her religion won't let her. Her religion says nothing about parties, and if it does, she shouldn't be renting space to anyone.

Anonymous said...

No one is arguing that they don't have the right to use their religion as an excuse for their bigotry, but I just want one of them to explain how anti-discrimination laws saying they cannot refuse to do business with someone just because they are gay is in any way a violation of their right to believe that being gay is a sin or to show me the part in the bible where it says not to do business with people who like the same sex.

I see this ending the same way Mormon polygamy ended, the government saying "You have every right to believe that, you don't have the right to act on it."

Linnea said...

Replace the "club" with "restaurant" and "gay couple" with "black people" and that's that. You don't want to serve gay couples? Then find another job!!

Gregory said...

"Help, my religious freedom is imperiled!"

I'll listen to your complaint just as soon as your religion starts paying taxes.

Gregory said...

"Help! Poor pitiful us! Our religious liberty is being imperiled!"

Hey, I'll be concerned about your religious liberty just as soon as your religion starts paying taxes like any other organization - religion is so privileged in this country.