Victims of belief in traditional marriage – latest businesses (US)

Crisis Magazine 10 Oct 2013
Christian Wedding Vendors Under Attack In 2006, a noted advocate for traditional marriage, Maggie Gallagher, warned that the legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to constraints on religious freedom. Writing in the Weekly Standard, Gallagher saw the end of adoptions services by Boston Catholic Charities as a foreshadowing of things to come. (To retain its license, Gallagher explained, the agency would have to abide by the state’s anti-discrimination law, which had been extended to married same-sex couples.) She couched her warning in the form of a question:

This March, then, unexpectedly, a mere two years after the introduction of gay marriage in America, a number of latent concerns about the impact of this innovation on religious freedom ceased to be theoretical. How could Adam and Steve’s marriage possibly hurt anyone else? When religious-right leaders prophesy negative consequences from gay marriage, they are often seen as overwrought. The First Amendment, we are told, will protect religious groups from persecution for their views about marriage. So who is right? Is the fate of Catholic Charities of Boston an aberration or a sign of things to come?

Seven years later, we have the answer: as of this writing, there have been at least 11 instances of wedding vendors and venues facing some form of recrimination—threats, boycotts, protests, and the intervention of state or judicial authorities—because they denied services for gay nuptials because of their faith. Besides Sweet Cakes by Melissa, they are:

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Colorado: Owner Jack Phillips refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple in July. The Lakewood bakery has faced at least two protests, a Facebook-driven boycott, and a discrimination complaint from the state Attorney General that was scheduled for a hearing in September. Phillips has said he would rather close his bakeshop than compromise his Christian beliefs. (Sources: news reports including Washington Times and Huffington Post.)

Victoria’s Cake Cottage, Iowa: Baker Victoria Childress denied service to a lesbian couple hoping to get married in 2011. The Des Moines baker was called a “bigot” and faced a protest and Facebook boycott but refused to budge, citing her Christian faith. (Sources: news reports including Washington Times and Huffington Post.)

Fleur Cakes, Oregon: Pam Regentin, the owner of the Mount Hood-area cake shop, refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple earlier this year, sparking another Facebook boycott in May. (Sources: news reports including local television.)

Liberty Ridge Farm, New York: The family-owned farm in mid-state New York is facing a human rights complaint after refusing to host a lesbian wedding in 2012. (Sources: local news sources here and here and the Huffington Post.)

All Occasion Party Place, Texas: In February, the Fort Worth-based wedding venue declined to host a wedding reception for a gay couple. An online boycott has now been launched against the business. (Sources: local news and the Huffington Post.)

Gortz Haus, Iowa: After refusing to host a gay wedding (reported in August), Betty Odgaard, the owner  of the business, received threatening calls and e-mails and now must contend with a complaint the couple has filed with the state civil rights commission. (Sources: local news sources here and here and the Huffington Post.)

Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, New Jersey: In 2012, a state judge ruled that a Methodist-owned events venue in Ocean Grove violated state law when it refused to host a gay wedding in 2007. Also, while the discrimination case was still pending, the facility lost its state tax exemption because it was deemed “no longer met the requirements as a place open to all members of the public,” the New York Times reported. (Sources: The New York Times here and here, Philadelphia Inquirer, and LifeSiteNews.)

Elane Photography, New Mexico: The state Supreme Court ruled in August that a New Mexico photography business owned by Elaine Huguenin and her husband Jon could not legally deny services to same-sex couples. The photographer had refused service for a lesbian commitment ceremony in 2006. One of the women had filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Commission, which ruled against the photographers in 2008, prompting an appeals process that led to the high court decision. It’s now unclear what will happen to the business. (Sources: press releases and news reports including the Catholic News Agency and the Santa Fe New Mexican. The case is discussed further below.)

Arlene’s Flowers, Washington: A florist refused to provide flowers to a gay wedding last March and now owner Baronelle Stutzman is facing a lawsuit from the state Attorney General. (Sources: news reports including local television and the Associated Press.)

Wildflower Inn, Vermont: A lesbian couple sued the Wildflower Inn under the state public accommodations law in 2011 after being told they could not have their wedding reception there. The owners were reportedly open to holding same-sex ceremonies as long as customers were notified that the events personally violated their Catholic faith. It wasn’t enough. The inn had to settle the case in 2012, paying a $10,000 fine and putting double that amount in a charitable trust. Also, the inn is no longer hosting weddings, although the decision reportedly was made before the settlement. (Sources: The New York Times and Huffington Post.)