Monday, February 24, 2014
Why Kirsten Powers' "Bake the cake or else!" stance violates 1st Amendment
In her acerbic commentary for USA Today, "Jim Crow laws for gays and lesbians," Kirsten Powers rails against Kansans considering a bill to prohibit coercing people into performing marriage ceremonies or providing adoption or business services that are "contrary to sincerely held religious beliefs" "regarding sex or gender." Citing the Bible and several pastors, Powers argues that Christians should love and serve everyone regardless of sexual preference, suggesting that unchristian bigots who decline to bake cakes for or take photos of same-sex weddings deserve no protection for contrary convictions.
Yet our 1st Amendment guarantees that even if your beliefs do not comport with the Bible, even if your conscience goes against the current of the culture, the government must not compel you to violate your convictions. Americans' commitment to conscience is so strong that we do not even force conscientious objectors to join the Army when the nation is at war. Nor do we force Catholic physicians to participate in the death penalty, or Jewish deli owners to serve pork barbecue, or commercial photographers who support animal rights to supply shots for fur coat ads.
How ironic it would be to turn a wedding won through a campaign for "equality and freedom" into an event of subjection and coercion.