Op/Ed by Michael Vaughn
In the past few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding a law in Indiana called the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Here is the summary of what the law states: “Provides that a state or local government action may not substantially burden a person’s right to the exercise of religion unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to the person’s exercise of religion is: (1) essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and (2) the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.”
However, as a result of the law’s phrasing, there was a huge uproar amongst LGBT activists. They said the law would allow governmental discrimination against gays and lesbians.
But, the only way to reach that conclusion would have been to completely distort what the law intended.
And, I believe that assumption had been built around the activists’ desire to discredit the state of Indiana, and those who have deeply held beliefs which may govern the way they do business.
What the activists may not realize, is that the purpose of the new law had been to try to guard against the types of things which have happened in Oregon and New Mexico.
In 2013, a bakery in Oregon was forced to close because they refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. And, in that instance, I do not recall the mayor, or the governor, chastising Oregon.
Mind you, they had not refused to make a cake for homosexuals; they refused to make a cake for an event which homosexuals were having. But, because of gay and lesbian activists, and their allies, this hard-working business had to shut down.
I’m sure there were other bakeries in Oregon which would have gladly made the cake for this couple. However, it was not enough for activists to have received the ability to marry, they wanted everyone to agree with them, and would have done whatever it takes in order to have made them comply.
In 2006, a similar situation occurred in New Mexico, where a photographer had been forced to shoot a same-sex wedding ceremony. The photographer refused because of his religious beliefs, however, the activists decided they needed to teach this photographer a lesson, so they took him to court.
These are the types of real situations from which the Indiana law had been trying to protect business owners.
Yet, in response, Mayor Lovely Warren stated there would be no travel from the city of Rochester for any official business to the state of Indiana if this law had gone into effect.
I believe she was completely wrong, and biased, in her opposition to the law, and definitely in her decision to ban official travel to the state.
If she truly believed discrimination would have happened, then she should have made sure she stuck up for the bakery in Oregon, and the photographer in New Mexico.
And, since she has spoken out against Oregon and New Mexico, maybe she also should stop traveling to Washington, D.C., because there is a federal law which states the same thing the law in Indiana stated.
While she is at it, she should tell President Barack Obama, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stay away from Cuba since, in Cuba, same-sex unions have been banned!
When politicians do what the mayor has done, it is really disheartening. The Indiana law set out to protect the rights of business owners, and to allow them to hold to their core values, without the bullying of the government forcing them to violate them.
It also shows how biased politicians can be, and why we have had such a deep distrust for them. They often seem to speak so passionately about a topic, unless that topic may impact what they desire most, in a negative manner. Then, they are silent, or have “no comment.”
I believe Mayor Warren is a good person who wants to do the right thing. However, she has been completely wrong when it comes to jumping on the “bash Indiana” band wagon. Refusing to make a cake for someone’s event, or photographing someone’s event, is not discrimination. It is freedom of speech. And, since this is still America, and we are governed by our Constitution, it should not be considered something that is wrong.
In the future, I pray that Mayor Warren will research her positions more thoroughly, prior to taking stances which may pander to a certain base of activists, but ruin her credibility and integrity!
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