Monday, July 06, 2015

Family Research Council, right-wing media caught lying about 'gag order' in anti-gay bakery controversy

Tony Perkins, FRC, right-wing media caught spreading a lie.

It never ceases to amaze me how the anti-gay right will blatantly lie.

According to a recent Family Research Council email:

No wonder people like Cokie Roberts don't think same-sex "marriage" has "tangible, identifiable victims." The victims are being ordered not to talk about it! That's the latest twist in the long and bitter suit against Aaron and Melissa Klein, the young Christian bakers who turned down a lesbian wedding cake order in Oregon -- and have been paying for it ever since.

As prepared as the Kleins were to hear their $135,000 fine had been finalized, nothing could have prepared them for the Bureau of Labor's second punishment: forced silence. Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian decided to put his own stamp on the punishment by ordering the parents of five "to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published... any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations... will be refused, withheld, or denied to..."

His order made the Kleins speechless all right -- but not for long. Once the shock wore off, Aaron and Melissa made it quite clear that they wouldn't stop speaking out about their case, no matter what the government threatened. "We will not give up this fight," Aaron wrote on their Facebook page, "and we will not be silenced."

For those who are not aware of the situation, Aaron and Melissa Klein owns a bakery in Gresham, Oregon and they refused to bake a cake for a gay couple in 2013. In accordance to Oregon's non-discrimination law, they are now ordered to pay a $135,000 fine because of the mental and emotional stress their action caused the couple..

The Kleins claimed that baking a cake for the couple would have been against their religious beliefs and as such have become a cause celebre for the idea of "religious liberty," i.e. the belief that businesses can use religious beliefs as an excuse to deny services.

This supposed idea of a gag order only adds to the hysteria propagated by organizations, such as the Family Research Council,  as well as other groups and personalities on the right as they attempt to push the notion that marriage equality and lgbt equality in general will lead to the so-called  persecution of those who believe that homosexuality is a sin.

But the claim about a gag order is a lie. 

 According to Media Matters, an organization which monitors right-wing propaganda, the idea of a gag order was "invented" by right-wing media:

Charlie Burr, Communication Director for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, debunked the "gag order" talking point in an email to Media Matters:
Our Final Order against Sweet Cakes by Melissa did not contain a gag order (as reported by Fox's Todd Starnes, National Review, Daily Caller and others). It does contain damages for the same-sex couple denied service based on sexual orientation and also includes a cease and desist order directing the business to refrain from discriminating against future customers. That does not mean that the owners are prohibited from talking about the case or their opposition to Oregon anti-discrimination laws.
This cease and desist order is based on enforcement of Oregon's non-discrimination law, which prohibits advertising that services of a public accommodation will be denied on the basis of sexual orientation. It's the same language that makes it illegal for a business to place a "whites only" sign in their window. As Slate's Mark Joseph Stern explained, this is not the same as a gag order (emphasis added):
There is nothing in Avakian's order that bars the Kleins from talking about the ruling. They can rail against it, march against its injustice, and pen Facebook screeds complaining about anti-discrimination law. What they cannot do is proclaim (publicly!) that their business will not serve gay couples.

It is interesting how folks on the right fueling this controversy focused solely on the Kleins while omitting the effect that it was having on the gay couple in the middle of the drama. As it is, the couple, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, did suffer mental and emotional distress because of the situation.

According to the Oregonian, the couple received death threats after their personal information (home address, phone and email) was posted on Aaron Klein's Facebook page and they nearly lost custody of their foster children, whom they have since adopted.

In  a callous afterthought, the Family Research Council addressed the stress the gay couple was put under in flippant terms:

Keep in mind that the state of Oregon didn't allow same-sex "marriage" when the Kleins declined to make the cake. Avakian blamed the Kleins for inflicting more than 100 emotional and physical problems on the couple, including everything from "weight gain" and "distrust of men" to "feeling mentally raped." As Fox News's Todd Starnes said, that must have been quite a cake!

How very "Christian" of the Family Research Council, indeed.

It's interesting how quickly a falsehood is spread amongst anti-gay groups, personalities, and the right-wing media. It will be more interesting to see if these folks, in that same spirit of  morality under which they claim to be defending the Kleins, will work to correct their false story about a "gag order."

Unfortunately, I don't think I should lose any sleep waiting on any correction.


Ray Verzasconi said...

The Klein's bakery is in Gresham Oregon, not Portland. Don't malign one of the most gay friendly cities in the U.S.

Ray Verzasconi, Ph.D.
The Queer Foundation,

BlackTsunami said...

Thanks, Ray. The correction has been made. ;p