So, You Thought It Would Never Happen?

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A private business owner in Seattle has been told that he will face fines and penalties if he refuses to bake “wedding” cakes for deviant couples in violation of his religious faith. If it’s “racist” to discriminate against deviant couples having a “wedding,” then it’s wrong for a Rabbi to refuse to marry them, as well.

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Miriam
1 year 8 months ago

Yirmiyahu mentions a distinction, that works within definitions of law: liberty vs. civil rights. Gays have a right to be protected and to pursue happy lives. But they do not have a “right” to impose their views upon others – that would be a violation of others’ liberty. MK Moshe Feiglin makes exactly the same point this week in the Knesset (google “Feiglin Knesset family values”).

Tal Benschar
1 year 8 months ago

INterestingly, on another blog, which discusses legal issues, one of the regular contributors posted the following hypothetical:

Shlomo Cohen has been blessed with a son, but he lives in San Francisco, where there is a vocal anti-circumcision movement. He emails his neighbor, a photographer, and asks him if he would photograph his son’s bris. The photographer responds, “Shlomo, no offense, but I think circumcision amounts to genital mutilation, and I can’t participate in that.” Next, he approaches his local organic/vegeterian caterer about catering the bris. The caterer says, “you know Shlomo, I’ve done brises in the past, but I’ve been reading some of the literature put out by the anti-circumcision people, and I think circumcisions cause unnecessary pain to baby boys. So I don’t do brises anymore.”

Shlomo files a complaint with San Francisco’s human rights commission, claiming that the photographer and the caterer are engaging in discrimination against him based on his Jewish ethnicity and religion. There is no evidence that either person turns down or otherwise mistreats Jewish clients or potential clients, and both deny they do so. Should Shlomo win his case?

You can view the discussion here:

http://www.volokh.com/2013/12/14/refusing-provide-commercial-services-circumcision-discrimination-jews/#disqus_thread

IMO, in neither this case nor in the bakery is their illegal discrimination, nor should there be.

Robert Lebovits
1 year 8 months ago

Freedom of religion is recorded in the Bill of Rights. Sexual orientation as a protected characteristic such as race has been legislated into existence relatively recently. When the two rights clash one of necessity will prevail at the loss of the other. What is most distressing, and suggestive of what might be on the horizon, is the apparent favoritism courts have shown for the latter over the former. Given that courts have determined religious liberty is not an absolute it is illogical to use past events to predict future judicial behavior. In a similar case in New Mexico involving a photographer who refused to do a gay wedding on religious grounds the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in favor of the same-sex couple and pronounced that the loss of religious freedom of choice was essentially “the cost of being a citizen” in our diverse modern society. Who says it can’t happen at the federal level?

Barry Dolinger
1 year 8 months ago

Just a point of precision – this really has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. In many states, laws have been interpreted to bar discrimination in a variety of ways based on sexual orientation. However, it’s fairly clear based on Federal Statutes (RIFRA, for example) and the 1st Amendment that clergy could never be forced to marry particular individuals if they are opposed, whatever the religious reason (intermarriage, gender, sexual orientation, whatever).

The current case may be unfair, but it really is a separate and distinct issue (legally, that is) from the marriage issue.

YM Goldstein
1 year 8 months ago

The halacha in this case would allow us to sell the wedding cake, especially if we would be fined for not doing so.