Ryan T. Anderson
Ryan T. Anderson

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has stirred up the religious right with his OpEd in the Washington Post titled; “Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous.” Cook makes the point:

A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states,
would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such
as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and
one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal
religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state
nondiscrimination law.

“Oh no” claims Catholic fundamentalist Ryan T. Anderson via a post on the Heritage Foundation blog, Daily Signal. According to Ryan T:

It is Tim Cook who favors laws that discriminate against people of faith
who simply ask to be left alone by government to run their businesses
and their schools and their charities in accordance with their
reasonable belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. It is
Tim Cook who would have the government discriminate against these
citizens, have the government coerce them into helping to celebrate a
same-sex wedding and penalize them if they try to lead their lives in
accordance with their faith.

The problem, of course, is that all discrimination has historically been based on religious objection. Ask any Klansman and he’ll proudly tell you that he is fighting for God (Christianity) and country. Not serving Jews, for example, has always been based on Christian prerogative. Same thing with interracial marriage. The trial judge in the Loving criminal trial posited that God did not intend for the races to mix. Anderson is essentially saying that prohibiting people from discriminating is a form of discrimination. Really?

As a society we have clearly defined what constitutes a public accommodation. We have also enacted anti-discrimination laws that affect those public accommodations. Increasingly, in states and cities, those laws include sexual orientation and sexual identity as protected classes.

Mr. Anderson doesn’t like those laws because the bishops assert that it is the duty of good Catholics to resist same-sex marriage (although Catholics support marriage equality greater than the general public). According to Mr. Anderson a Catholic florist must deny goods and services for a same-sex wedding. In theory I suppose that a good Catholic pharmacist must not dispense birth control pills. Then, I would argue that both are in the wrong professions.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act faced similar resistance but it was enacted and it defines the limits of religious freedom. Since then many states and municipalities have passed laws that make sexual orientation and sexual identity protected classes. Despite Indiana and efforts by other states, over time we are going to see more and more protection of LGBT citizens and taxpayers. Mr. Anderson will just have to cope with the fact that a Catholic florist is required to sell flowers for a gay marriage. Religious freedom means that nobody can force that florist to gay marry.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.