By Amy Payne
Cases have been popping up across the country where individuals have declined to bake cakes or take photos for same-sex wedding ceremonies—and government has punished them. This week, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) vetoed a bill that would have put religious liberty protections in place in her state. We sat down with Ryan Anderson, Heritage’s William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society, to get some answers about this debate.
The Foundry: How did people’s beliefs about same-sex marriage become an issue for private businesses?
Ryan Anderson: In New Mexico, a photographer declined to use her artistic talents to promote a same-sex ceremony because of her religious beliefs. The couple complained and the New Mexico Human Rights Commission ordered her to pay a fine of nearly $7,000. Christian adoption and foster-care agencies in Massachusetts, Illinois, and Washington, D.C., have been forced to stop providing those services because they believe that the best place for kids is with a married mom and dad. Other cases include a baker, a florist, a bed-and-breakfast, a student counselor, the Salvation Army, and more.
Whose liberty is at stake? Is it just business owners’?
Everyone’s. When the government starts forcing people to do things that violate their deeply held beliefs, we have a problem. Unless the government proves that there is a compelling government interest in doing so (and that there was not another, less restrictive means possible), citizens should be left free. We need legislation protecting religious liberty for all, because in a growing number of cases, government coercion and penalties have violated religious freedom.
Why is this a religious liberty issue?
Many religions teach that marriage is the union of a man and woman, and the religious liberty concern in these recent cases is that …read more