Welcome back from Thanksgiving break! Grab a stool as Jim and Greg dissect good, bad, and crazy martinis today. First, while Greg laments another Ohio State win over Michigan, they love the powerful pro-life story involving OSU’s star running back. They also slam Michael Bloomberg for saying taxes on poor people are good because then poor people won’t make as many bad choices for themselves. And they roll their eyes as LGBT activists complain about the absence of same-sex romances in Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies. You’ll also enjoy their unvarnished analysis of the Hallmark movies as they currently exist.
This week, a federal district court judge in New York struck down conscience protections for health care providers whose sincere religious beliefs convict them not to participate in abortion, gender reassignment procedures, or dispense birth control.
“Health care is a basic right that should never be subject to political games,” said New York Attorney General Tish James, who brought the case, according to Politico. “Once again, the courts have blocked the Trump Administration from implementing a discriminatory rule that would only hurt Americans.”
The rule administered through the Department of Health and Human Services threatened to curtail federal funding for institutions that refused to allow providers to opt out of such procedures on grounds of their conscience. Judge Paul Engelmayer agreed with state and local officials and groups like Planned Parenthood.
But defenders of free religious expression are furious.
“This particular ruling is absolutely outrageous,” said Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver. “They’re not going to lose any federal funding as long as they simply do what they’re supposed to and that is to honor the constitutional protection to free exercise of religion.”
Listen to the full podcast to hear Staver explain that the Trump administration’s rule is not some radical departure from precedent but is actually restoring a long-held precedent reversed during the Obama administration. He also shares how he thinks this issue will be resolved on appeal.
The Supreme Court is getting back to business this week and right away the justices are diving into a legal question that could have significant cultural impact.
On Tuesday, the justices heard arguments over whether the 1964 Civil Right Act forbidding employer discrimination on the basis of sex simply affords legal protection to women or whether it also ought to extend to sexual orientation and gender identity.
The case before the court centers on three individuals, one of whom is deceased: two men who were allegedly fired for being gay and a biological male who now identifies as a female who was let go from a Michigan funeral home.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco said the Civil Right Act was clearly drafted 55 years ago with the term “sex” clearly intended to mean the difference between male and female, not gay vs. straight.
While advocates for a broader definition of “sex” say an adverse ruling will let them back decades, Family Research Council Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg says it would actually just preserve the status quo. He says the real cultural shift would occur if the court changes what he believes the authors of the Civil Rights Act intended 55 years ago.
“It would be very serious. There would be a significant threat to the freedom of employers to decide what they believe are the appropriate qualifications for their employees. And there would be a particular threat to religious liberty for Christian employers who may be concerned about not wanting to hire people whose lifestyle is not consistent with the teachings of their faith,” said Sprigg.
Listen to the full podcast as Sprigg explains why there’s a big difference in sexual orientation vs. gender identity in the Civil Rights Act and why conservative groups like the Family Research Council find themselves in common cause with feminists and lesbian groups worried about equating biological men with women.
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act. Supporters say they want to add anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity similar to the existing provisions for people based on sex, race, ethnicity, and religion. However, critics contend the legislation would ramp up inequality for Americans who do not agree with the LGBT agenda.
Emilie Kao directs the Devos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation. She says the Equality Act actually leads to more inequality.
“We don’t think anybody should be discriminated against simply because they are gay or transgender. Everyone should be treated with respect. But the problem with the Equality Act is that it doesn’t treat everyone with respect. It basically codifies ideologies about sexual orientation and sex differences into civil rights law. That will lead to the punishment of people who don’t agree with those viewpoints,” said Kao.
Kao says the bill would lead to an erosion of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and parental rights.
To begin, the Equality Act would trump the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, meaning wedding vendors such as bakers and florists who feel servicing a same-sex wedding would violate their consciences would not be able to cite their sincerely-held religious beliefs when sued under this law.
Kao says it would also strip legal protections for people who simply disagree with same-sex marriage or the transgender agenda. She says teachers have been fired for refusing to use the preferred pronouns of a student identifying as a different gender and hospitals have been targeted for refusing to perform gender reassignment surgery.
According to Kao, the Equality Act would also gut parental rights. And she cited a transgender case in Ohio as a preview for what the Equality Act would do nationwide.
“A Catholic family lost custody of their daughter when the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital said that she should be taking testosterone for gender dysphoria. When the parents disagreed, the state charged the parents with child abuse and a judge terminated their custody,” said Kao.
Parents would also find themselves powerless in confronting an increasingly activist curriculum on these matters.
“In many cases, the parents are not even informed that children as young as kindergarten are being read stories in which they are told something that is a fallacy, which is that a person can transition from one sex to the other sex,” said Kao.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Kao explain how the Equality Act would lead to greater inequality and why the promoters of the legislation are determined to criminalize those who disagree with their agenda.
She says there is a lot more at stake here than most Americans realize.
“I think what people should be aware of is the endangerment of religious freedom – it’s already happening at the state level – the endangerment of parental rights, and the endangerment of women and girls’ safety and privacy, not to mention fairness in sports,” she said.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of the Colorado baker who refused to customize a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony, exciting defenders of religious liberty but leaving some of the broader issues of free speech and religious expression unresolved.
The 7-2 decision reversed a decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals and resolved a six-year legal dispute between Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips and the same-sex couple who allege Phillips discriminated against them.
“This is a significant win for religious freedom and it’s a great decision from the court that affirms the basic freedom for everybody to live and work according to their religious beliefs, without fear of unjust punishment from the government. That’s a great thing for Jack and that’s a great thing for everybody today,” said Kate Anderson, legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Masterpiece Cakeshop in this case.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the majority opinion legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015, also wrote the ruling this case.
“I was in the courtroom when this decision was handed down and when Anthony Kennedy was the one reading the decision, it really made me nervous,” said Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver, a fierce critic of Kennedy on many cases related to marriage over the years
“You couldn’t tell which way he was going at the very beginning, but as his discussion of the case moved forward it was clear the court ultimately sided with Jack Phillips,” added Staver. “To get seven justices to agree on this particular issue, whether it’s narrow or broad, is a spectacular event, and it’s a good day.”
The legal battle began in 2012, when Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins entered the shop, looking to order a cake for their same-sex ceremony.
“He offered to sell them anything in his shop. He just explained that he cannot create custom wedding cake designs that send a message that violates his conscience, in this case a cake that is custom in nature and sends a message celebrating a vision of marriage that violates his conscience,” said Anderson.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission came down very hard on Phillips.
“The commission ruled against him and showed a great deal of hostility in that ruling. They ordered him to create cakes for same-sex weddings despite his religious beliefs if he created any wedding cakes, so he has had to stop creating wedding cakes. It’s been about a 40 percent hit on his business.
“The commission also ordered him to re-educate all of his staff in accord with the commission’s views on marriage. Mostly it’s his family that works for him, so he was ordered, essentially, to re-educate his family on these issues,” said Anderson.
It was that “hostility” that drove Monday’s court ruling.
“[I]t must be concluded that the State’s interest could have been weighed against Phillips’ sincere religious objections in away consistent with the requisite religious neutrality that must be strictly observed. The official expressions of hostility to religion in some of the commissioners’ comments—comments that were not disavowed at the Commission or by the State at any point in the proceedings that led to affirmance of the order—were inconsistent with what the Free Exercise Clause requires,” wrote Kennedy
“The Commission’s disparate consideration of Phillips’ case compared to the cases of the other bakers suggests the same. For these reasons, the order must be set aside,” he added.
Anderson says the ruling is great vindication for Phillips.
“Now he can live according to his religious beliefs, which is a great thing for everyone. The court was clear that the government cannot be hostile to religious beliefs and that the government, in applying the laws, must be fair and respectful of people’s religious beliefs,” said Phillips.
But the decision is being characterized many many as narrow, not due to the margin in the court’s vote but to the impact of the ruling.
“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved
with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market,” wrote Kennedy at the end of his opinion.
Staver says that means the battle goes on.
“One thing for sure is that it didn’t settle once and for all this issue of the clash between the first amendment and the LGBT agenda. That will be saved for another day,” said Staver.
Anderson agrees in principle but says the condemnation of hostility could apply to other cases, such as Washington state florist Baronelle Stutzman, who is also on the legal ropes after refusing to service a same-sex wedding for clients she served for other purchases for years.
Anderson contends Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson demonstrated very similar hostility to Stutzman, moving forward with a case before he even had a client.
Staver says the court could add additional heft to Monday’s decision when it rules on another hot-button issue later this month.
“I think what we’re going to see between now and the end of June is a case out of California, involving crisis pregnancy centers and forced speech. The state is forcing them to give a pro-abortion message. I believe the court is going to come down on the side of the crisis pregnancy centers against the forced speech,” said Staver.
While the broader issues have yet to be resolved, Anderson says all Americans should celebrate what happened on Monday.
“Civil liberties run together so when one person’s rights to live according to their beliefs are violated, everybody’s beliefs are at risk.
“I hope that everyone can see that, that this strong decision that government needs to respect people’s ability to live and work according to their beliefs is something that goes both ways. It means that everybody’s protected in their particular beliefs,” said Anderson.
Traditional marriage is in the cross hairs of the progressive left again this week, as a sitting U.S. senator suggested Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo was unfit for office because he opposes gay marriage, and a New Yorker column expressed horror about the successful expansion of Chick-fil-A in New York City.
On Thursday, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., questioned Pompeo as part of the confirmation process and used part of his time to pepper Pompeo about his views on tradition marriage and whether be believes “gay sex is a perversion.” He refused to accept Pompeo’s contention that he did not believe in same-sex marriage but would all subordinates equally.
National Organization for Marriage Communications Director Joseph Grabowski says this is the latest sign of a troubling litmus test on the left.
“I think this is a demonstration of an ideological purity test that unfortunately is becoming common in the Democratic Party. We’ve already seen it on the life issue and a woman’s so-called right to have an abortion. Now we’re seeing it also with respect to beliefs about marriage that people can hold personally,” said Grabowski, noting that as recently as 2008, neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton publicly backed same-sex marriage.
Booker couched his comments as being in the interest of State Department employees who might have same-sex spouses, but Grabowski says the implication was clear that “somehow this view that Mr. Pompeo holds as a matter of personal belief, as a matter of religious conviction, disqualifies him from public service.”
Grabowski says Booker could simply look into Pompeo’s record at the CIA, in Congress, or in the military if he really wanted to know if Pompeo has had any problems on these issues.
“It’s clear to be that Sen. Booker doesn’t have any such evidence and that’s why he’s pursuing this line of questioning,” said Grabowski, noting that the National Organization for Marriage has launched a website to call attention to Booker’s questioning and to gather petition signatures in condemnation of it.
Grabowski adds that this sort of badgering by Booker puts the lie to the LGBT’s longstanding public relations efforts.
“The adage of ‘live and let live’ which was claimed as the policy that was underlying the effort to allow for same-sex marriage. It’s clearly not the intent here,” said Grabowski.
He says this movement was never just about changing the law but about changing the culture and marginalizing anyone with a traditional view of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. According to Grabowski, the goal is “to make that the equivalent in the civic discourse of what racists in the Jim Crow South years ago believed.”
The left dominates the public square on the issue. Some polls now show a majority of Americans – or even a majority of Republicans – back same-sex marriage. Grabowski says traditional marriage supporters keep quiet our of fear for the jobs or being ostracized in their social circles.
He also pushes back on the idea that traditional marriage is no longer the majority position in the U.S. He says the societal pressure is so strong that people won’t even express their true beliefs to a pollster.
However, this is not only an issue in the halls of government. On Friday, New Yorker columnist Dan Piepenbring vented about the success of Chick-fil-A restaurants in New York City. Again, the faith-based foundation of the chain was at issue.
“[T]he brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism. Its headquarters, in Atlanta, is adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays. Its C.E.O., Dan Cathy, has been accused of bigotry for using the company’s charitable wing to fund anti-gay causes, including groups that oppose same-sex marriage,” wrote Piepenbring.
“The restaurant’s corporate purpose still begins with the words “to glorify God,” and that proselytism thrums below the surface of the Fulton Street restaurant, which has the ersatz homespun ambiance of a megachurch,” he added.
“Still, there’s something especially distasteful about Chick-fil-A, which has sought to portray itself as better than other fast food: cleaner, gentler, and more ethical, with its poultry slightly healthier than the mystery meat of burgers. Its politics, its décor, and its commercial-evangelical messaging are inflected with this suburban piety,” added Piepenbring.
Grabowski says such a column only confirms what most of America thinks of liberal bastions like New York City.
“This is the kind of elitism we see every election cycle, when people complain sometimes about the values of certain coastal elites who miss out on the real values of the average American.
“This is a perfect example of that. In a city like New York, where you can walk down any given street and see a several stories-high billboard portraying people barely clad in skimpy underwear and engaged in all kinds of weird poses. To be offended by something like a homely restaurant is just completely absurd to me,” said Grabowski.
But with the LGBT movement enjoying strong alliances with the media, Hollywood and the rest of popular culture and traditional marriage advocates fearful of reprisals, is there any reason to think this momentum will change?
Grabowski says yes.
“There is a grassroots groundswell of support for this issue. You don’t see it reported a lot. You don’t see it reported a lot, but that doesn’t mean you’re along. I would encourage people to take heart and to know there is strength in numbers and to know that we have the truth on our side. Ultimately, that will win out,” said Grabowski.
A federal judge is placing injunctions on two critical aspects of President Trump’s ban on transgenders serving openly in the military, but a key supporter of Trump’s policy says the judge is jumping the gun since no has been harmed by the policy and appears to be sympathetic to the media’s perspective that this is a civil rights issue.
On Monday, Federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly placed an injunction on Trump’s reinstatement of the ban and also blocked any ban on recruitment of transgenders. However, Kollar-Kotelly did not block Trump’s order not to use taxpayer dollars to pay for gender reassignment surgery and related treatments.
Kollar-Kotelly is a Clinton nominee to the federal bench, but was also a Reagan nominee for the D.C Superior Court earlier in her career. She gained widespread notoriety years ago as the judge in the government’s prolonged antitrust suit against Microsoft. The case is Jane Doe v. Donald Trump, as multiple unnamed transgender service members are behind the suit.
But given that the Obama administration unilaterally ended the ban on transgenders serving in the military, does the law side with Trump in his efforts to put the ban back in place? Family Research Council Senior Fellow in Policy Studies Peter Sprigg thinks so.
“I certainly think that this is an executive branch decision and not one for the courts to interfere with,” said Sprigg.
“This was a policy decision on the part of the Obama administration to reverse the longstanding policy that excluded transgender persons from the military. It is a policy decision of the Trump administration to reverse that. This is really not a constitutional issue, although the judge tries to frame it that way,” said Sprigg.
Sprigg believes the sympathetic media coverage of LGBT issues is influencing judges like Kollar-Kotelly.
“I think that the judge has internalized the way that the media covers this, which is that it’s a civil rights issue. It’s a matter of discrimination. It’s a matter of irrational animus towards people because of who they are. They’re simply failing to look at the real issues,” said Sprigg.
So what are the real issues? First of all, Sprigg says no one has standing to challenge the ban yet.
“The presidential memorandum (issued in August) basically said, ‘We are going to have the Pentagon look at this and make plans for how to undo the Obama policy and to report back on those by March 23, 2018.
“At the moment, the practice of the military remains as it was after July of 2016 under the Obama administration. In other words, people who came out as transgender are serving as openly transgender service members in the military, right now are continuing to do so even following the president’s announcement and will continue to do so until March of next year,” said Sprigg.
Sprigg says there is also no grounds to contest the ban on recruitment yet.
“No one has ever been recruited into the military as a transgender person. That policy was supposed to begin on July 1 of this year. Secretary of Defense James Mattis had already postponed that policy by six months before the president announced his decision on the overall policy,” said Sprigg.
“The July 2016 status quo is still in place right now. Therefore, these plaintiffs don’t really have an injury they can point to,” said Sprigg.
Once the timetables play out, the debate will continue. The argument in favor of allowing transgenders to serve is that anyone who is willing to serve and can meet the requirements ought to be given the chance to serve.
Sprigg says there are three compelling reasons to bring back the ban.
“[It’s] not because of any sort of discrimination or animus towards them because of who they are. It is for very specific medical reasons, both because of mental health and physical health considerations.
“People who identify as transgender do suffer from a mental disorder that is known as gender dysphoria. That has always been a disqualifying condition from a mental health perspective,” said Sprigg, who says there are physical standards in play as well.
“People who have had sex reassignment surgery are disqualified from a physical health perspective, as is anyone who has some sort of abnormality or mutilation of the genitalia for any reason,” said Sprigg.
He also points out that the military refuses to deploy anyone undergoing specialized medical treatment, and hormone treatments associated with gender reassignment would render service members unable to be deployed.
Sprigg says the judge doesn’t seem to care about why the previous policy existed.
“Although she quoted the previous policy about the physical and mental health issues when she actually analyzed whether this policy was justified, she didn’t address those issues at all. For the most part, the media does not address those issues either,” said Sprigg.
President Trump reinstated the ban on transgenders serving in the U.S. military on Wednesday, pleasing cultural conservatives and infuriating Democrats, LGBT activists, and quite a few Republicans.
Trump made the announcement Wednesday morning via three tweets.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you,” stated Trump.
Family Research Council Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg says Trump made the right decision in reaction to President Obama lifting the ban in the final months of his administration.
“The Obama policy was not well-grounded. Therefore, returning to the longstanding policy that has always prevailed in our country was the right decision,” said Sprigg, who contends allowing transgender troops to serve openly would create a major distractions.
“Allowing those who identify as transgender to serve in the military would simply be a distraction from the core mission of our armed forces, which is to fight and win America’s wars. President Trump’s tweets indicated that he understands that,” said Sprigg, who sees the same motivation for Obama pushing Congress to overturn the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military or opening combat roles to women.
“All of these are situations where military effectiveness was not the primary objective and they all fall under the category of social engineering,” said Sprigg.
And why would transgenders serving be a distraction? First, Sprigg says Obama’s lifting of the ban was never about military readiness.
“This was really driven by political correctness. It would undermine good order, morale, and discipline in the military. It would raise all kinds of issues of privacy, just as we’ve discussed in some civilian contexts,” said Sprigg.
He also says a lot of taxpayer dollars would be needed to accommodate the medical needs of people transitioning from one gender identity to another.
“We would actually be asking taxpayers to pay for gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy for people who are already serving in the military. And, under the Obama policy, it would have eventually been for people who would choose to join the military as well,” said Sprigg.
Beyond that, Sprigg says the medical needs of such personnel would greatly limit their usefulness in overseas crises.
“Perhaps most importantly of all, these people undergoing these medical treatments have unique medical needs, which makes them non-deployable because they require specialized care that may not be available everywhere in the world where the military is deployed,” said Sprigg.
Sprigg says there is nothing new about medically excluding people from military service, so he sees the accusations of bigotry and discrimination in response to Trump’s announcement as being flawed.
“There are lots of patriotic Americans who are willing to serve their country but are not permitted to serve their country because of special medical conditions. I think those who identity as transgender as essentially no different from that category of individuals. It’s not a question of discrimination,” said Sprigg.
Trump is getting some vocal support for his decision.
“He’s doing what the vast majority of people in America want as well as military leaders,” said Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, who led the unsuccessful effort earlier this month to block taxpayer dollars from being spent on gender reassignment procedures and treatment. “So I’m very pleased that he listened and he acted decisively and will help restore our military’s readiness.”
Iraq War veteran J.R. Salzman offered a lengthy Twitter explanation of how combat duties broke a lot of people he served with.
“Now take someone confused about whether they are a man/woman,” wrote Salzman. “Take those psychological and emotional issues and put them in that environment. Take someone who is right off the bat not uniform or part of the same team. Give them special treatment because of their identity.
“Take that person, put them in that stressful war environment and watch what happens. It’s a f—ing ticking time bomb,” stated Salzman.
In addition to the fierce condemnation offered by Democrats and liberal activists to Trump’s reinstatement of the ban, man of the Republicans who offered a public response were also very critical. The Huffington Post compiled many of those statements.
““Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
“Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, an Iraq War veteran.
“I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them,” added Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Sens. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, also criticized the decision, as did Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, a former chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Sprigg isn’t overly surprised at the GOP backlash.
“I think they have internalized too many of the talking points to the radical LGBT activists and are not thinking clearly enough about this topic,” said Sprigg.
But while there may be a majority of lawmakers in opposition to Trump’s decision, Sprigg says Republicans would much rather forget about it than try to reverse it.
“I sense that this is the type of issue that a lot of Republican politicians would rather not have to deal with at all. They didn’t want to have to deal with Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s amendment to prevent the spending of taxpayer money for gender reassignment surgery or hormone replacement therapy.
“But I also think they’re not going to want to deal with any effort to overturn the president’s decision,” said Sprigg.
A Christian couple looking to add wedding videos to their business repertoire is suing the state of Minnesota after official there made it clear that their laws require anyone working as a wedding vendor to accommodate same-sex couples.
Carl and Angel Larsen operate Telescope Media Group. In a statement provided by their attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom, the Larsens contend their business “exists to tell great stories that honor God.”
It also points out the couple is expanding into wedding video services to “reanimate the hearts and minds of people about the goodness of marriage between a man and a woman.”
But the state of Minnesota is placing a major hurdle in front of their business plans.
“They’re unable to do so because the state says if they do them for marriages that are consistent with their beliefs – marriages between a man and a woman – they have to do them on behalf of same-sex marriages as well,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco, who is lead counsel for Telescope Media Group in this case.
The state is relying on an updated version of it’s Human Rights Act to force vendors into accepting clients for all legal forms.
“The law bars discrimination on a whole bunch of different categories and the state has added sexual orientation to the law. But [the state] has also announced that it interprets the law to require people in the wedding industry to promote concepts of marriage, including same-sex marriage, that they disagree with, even if that violate their religious beliefs,” said Tedesco.
“The state has put that on official websites. They’ve announced that in various different places. They’ve basically put people on notice. They’re looking out for faithful Christians in the wedding industry, and they’re going to prosecute them if they act in a manner that’s consistent with their beliefs when it comes to marriage,” said Tedesco.
Punishment for wedding vendors refusing to accept same-sex clients can be up to 90 days in jail and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Tedesco says a pre-emptive lawsuit was clearly needed.
“No one in their right mind , when 90 days in jail is on the line and the state is saying the exercise of your first amendment rights could wind you up in jail is going to exercise their rights. They chilled their expression. They go to court to try to get a judgment from the court before that even happens,” said Tedesco.
“Rather than take that risk, Carl and Angel filed a lawsuit to try to get the court to say that it was unlawful for the state to even apply the law to force them to say things they don’t want to say through their films,” said Tedesco.
Tedesco says the Minnesota Human Rights Act is a blatant violation of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“These kind of pre-enforcement challenges are something that’s been used for years in the civil rights context,” he said.
“When laws like this go on the books, the state is saying, ‘We’re going to apply this to expression,’ the courts are very concerned and they’ve said many times in opinions they’ve issued in this area that people will respond to those laws simply by stopping their speech, chilling their expression. Then everybody loses,” said Tedesco.
Right now the court is weighing competing motions. Officials from Minnesota are asking for the case to be dismissed. The Larsens are asking to be able to video wedding of their choice until the issue is resolved in court.
Tedesco says Minnesota is among a growing number of states being pressured by liberal politicians and activists to forbid vendors from acting on their consciences.
“There are activists on the left that are pushing very, very hard for these same kind of laws to be adopted in states that don’t have them. There’s at least 20 states that have them right now and they want all 50 states to have them. They want the federal government to have them,” said Tedesco.
“Those activists say there are no compromises. You have to comply with the law. Speech is not a defense. Your speech can be compelled. You can be forced to speak and act in ways that are completely inconsistent with your core beliefs,” said Tedesco.
“This is very problematic in the marriage context right now. These laws adding sexual orientation to non-discrimination laws are the tools the other side uses to coerce uniformity of thought and belief when it comes to the marriage institution,” he said.
David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America celebrate the Supreme Court decision that upheld a portion of President Trump’s travel ban, overturning lower court rulings. They also applaud the SCOTUS decision in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church against the State of Missouri in a religious liberty case. And they question Pride Month’s “inclusivity” as LGBT members of the Jewish community are ejected from a Chicago pride march for having the Star of David on a rainbow flag.