The Norman Transcript

Columns

March 3, 2014

Bigotry killed ‘conscience law’

NORMAN — When advocates of same-sex marriage pushed their case in the courts of both public opinion and law, they made sure to read the following language from that little card provided to them by the tolerance police: “No one will be forced to violate their religious beliefs if Adam can marry Steve and Madame can marry Eve.”

Much like the Miranda warnings that became famous after the Supremes decided that magic words were all that were needed to protect the right against self-incrimination, this nuptial disclaimer was supposed to make us all breathe easier about that pesky First Amendment right to free exercise.

Well, you can start choking.

Yielding to pressures reminiscent of Tony Soprano, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed Arizona’s new conscience law, the one that protected people of faith from having to provide services to gay and lesbian couples who wanted a wedding cake, a commemorative photo album, a gossamer bridal gown or a jazzy band. The violent pushback against the law shows just how hollow that “your religious beliefs are safe” promise really is. A law that would have simply permitted private business owners to refuse to provide services that violated deeply held religious principles was called a subversive attempt to codify bigotry.

And where, pray tell, was the bigot hiding?

Why, in the kitchen, where the baked goods are kept.

And in the darkroom, where the photos are developed.

And in the basement, where the musical instruments are stored.

And in the dressing room, where the measurements are taken.

These are the safe houses of hate and prejudice, places where evil believers take refuge from the same-sex juggernaut.

This reasoning was both predictable and troubling. You just knew that when the Supreme Court dismantled part of the Defense of Marriage Act last year, and some states took up the crusade by passing laws to legalize gay nuptials, any hint of opposition would be labeled bigotry. In fact, this isn’t news. From the time that the first man took his boyfriend’s hand and said “I do ... want a domestic partnership,” opposition to same-sex unions (whether based on the law or in faith) was considered tantamount to Bull Connor hosing someone down.

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