Dear Marriage Supporter,
Since the age of the French Revolution, the phrase "Let them eat cake" has been used as a symbol of out-of-touch, tyrannical elites or aristocracies. The phrase comes from a popular anecdote that a monarch (often identified as Marie Antoinette), when told that the peasants had no bread to eat and were starving, proposed this as the solution: "Let them eat cake."
Well, ironically in our own day the phrase is once again a fitting a symbol of an out-of-touch, tyrannical government: this time in the form of a Colorado Judge who ruled that a baker in Denver must provide wedding cakes to same-sex couples... or else pay the price.
The decision from Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer in Denver, CO is like a chilling flashback for anyone concerned about the first amendment protections of freedom of religion and expression — a flashback to a similar decision earlier this year in the case of Elane Photography in New Mexico.
Before talking about this new case dealing with a business called Masterpiece Cakeshop, I want to look back on that earlier one, especially since the Colorado decision makes use of and cites the decision issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court.
Flash-back: "The Price of Citizenship"
When Christian photographers Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin declined to photograph a same-sex couple's "commitment ceremony" in 2006, the 'to-be-wed' couple filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission and a legal battle ensued after the Commission ruled against the photographers. The battle made it all the way up the New Mexico Supreme Court which finally brought down its ruling on August 22 of this year.
In his concurring opinion in the ruling against Elane Photography, New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Richard Bosson wrote these chilling words [emphasis added]:
[T]here is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life. In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.
I would ask the Court this: what price of citizenship does the same-sex couple pay, who surely could have picked any number of capable photographers with no conscientious objection to recording their ceremony? Apparently, in the eyes of the Court, this is a one-way street. The message to people of faith, and really to all Americans, was crystal clear: your deeply held religious beliefs and convictions have no place in the public square anymore.
If you choose to run a business, sure you can still do it according to your values — but only until those values come into conflict with the values of the intelligentsia and opinion makers who happen to be running the show. At that point, the price of your citizenship is that you must be punished.
And that's a message that should trouble all Americans, both liberal and conservative alike.
Fast-forward: "Preparing a Cake is Simply Not 'Speech'"
Now here's another message that should trouble all of us, regardless of background or ideology: the message that the courts have purview to dictate to an artist how he should practice his art.
That is effectively the upshot of the first part of the decision by Colorado Judge Robert Spencer against Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakes.
The Judge dismissed Mr. Phillips' claim that being forced to make a cake for a same-sex wedding would violate his freedom of speech on the grounds that "the act of preparing a cake is simply not 'speech' warranting First Amendment protection."
Had these words arisen in any other context, penned by any other judge in any other case, you can bet your bottom dollar that liberals across the nation would be having a fit! Who is this judge to tell a baker that his trade doesn't constitute artistic expression?
I challenge any same-sex marriage activist to take to their blog or to pen an op-ed doubling down on the opinion that what cake decorators and bakers do isn't a form of artistry and doesn't deserve protections as a form of expression!
And I'd be willing to bet if this case had involved a portrait painter, or a photographer, or a musician, or a florist, the judge would have ruled exactly the same way.
How's that for citizenship 'rights' in America? So that same-sex couples can redefine marriage to suit their own desires, the first amendment rights of all artists — poets and painters, florists and bakers, musicians and photographers — will be delineated by what the courts decide constitutes 'expression.'
Effectively, this judge has said to Mr. Phillips — to every baker in America — and by extension to every kind of artist in America... "It's just a stupid cake. Bake it." "It's just a stupid song. Sing it." "It's just a stupid picture. Take it." "It's just stupid art. Fake it."
We could wait and see whether the champions of freedom on the left raise their voices to cry against this attack on the first amendment. But alas, I fear we'd have to wait a long time...
Don't Wait. ACT NOW.
Instead of waiting for the first amendment to be protected by its supposed champions, therefore, We the People who are its true champions need to stand up and be heard.
You and I have the opportunity to do just that today.
Write to Congress today to urge support for the "Marriage and Religious Freedom Acts" which have been introduced in both the House and the Senate. These bills will help protect churches and people of faith from the kind of judicial tyranny which is becoming such a disturbing trend in the wake of the push to redefine marriage!
The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act authored by Senator Mike Lee already enjoys several Republican co-sponsors, and according to The Washington Examiner, Senator Lee says that some Democrats have expressed willingness to sign on to it as well.
In remarks to the Examiner, Lee said:
Nearly every member of Congress on both ends of the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle, will at least purport to be a strong supporter of religious liberty, and this should be an uncontroversial position to take. [...] I don't think anyone believes that the federal government ought to be making religious doctrinal decisions on behalf of churches and other religious institutions.
Lee's bill is similar in spirit to a House version introduced in September of this year by Representative Raul Labrador (R-Id.), which has a bipartisan coalition of 91 cosponsors.
NOM is very grateful to be working with advocates in both the House of Representatives and the Senate who are standing up and emphasizing the need to protect religious freedom from government overreach and targeting. By having bills in both chambers it provides a greater opportunity for debate and raises the profile of this crucially important issue.
So please click here now to thank both Senator Lee and Representative Labrador for the courageous leadership in defense of marriage and religious liberty, and to urge your members of Congress to support their legislation. These bills are especially important in the wake of the weakening of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by the Supreme Court in the fateful Winsdor decision this past June. Don't delay! Contact Congress right away!
Once again, I express my own personal gratitude, as well as the gratitude of NOM and all its allies, to Senator Mike Lee, Representative Raul Labrador, and so many other heroic members of Congress who are working to ensure that the freedoms we all hold so dear are not trampled underfoot in a bullying mob's rush to redefine marriage.
Proof that Standing in the Truth Can Still Win Hearts
I'll close today by remarking on some charming and edifying news from yesterday: Pope Francis being named TIME's "Person of the Year."
An article in TIME by Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs captures well the enigma that Pope Francis has presented to many over his brief reign thus far:
These days it is bracing to hear a leader say anything that annoys anyone. Now liberals and conservatives alike face a choice as they listen to a new voice of conscience: Which matters more, that this charismatic leader is saying things they think need to be said or that he is also saying things they'd rather not hear?
This challenge of Pope Francis is elaborated upon in the profile piece TIME published along with the cover story:
Francis signals great change while giving the same answers to the uncomfortable questions. On the question of female priests:"We need to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman." Which means: no. No to abortion, because an individual life begins at conception. No to gay marriage, because the male-female bond is established by God. "The teaching of the church ... is clear," he has said, "and I am a son of the church, but [...] it is not necessary to talk about those issues all the time."
In other words, as the authors quote Pope Francis saying elsewhere: "[W]hen we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context."
This is a good reminder for all of us who work in defending true marriage. While we might seem to"talk about those issues all the time," it's only because our opponents' attacks on marriage never relent. We must never allow it to be in the way Francis criticizes: we cannot speak only about them, out of context, only criticizing the bad and never praising the good.
In fact, we've striven at NOM for years to explain that it's not a matter of being "against" or "anti" anyone or anything. Rather, we are for marriage: for the essential service it provides for the good of humanity, for the role it plays in bringing men and women together and uniting them in love to one another and to their children.
Let us take heart, then, and learn the real lesson that Pope Francis's popularity teaches all of us: the overarching importance of always presenting the truth in love. There will always be those who disagree, but disagreement must never turn to hate or malice. We love every one of God's children and all His good gifts, like the wonderful gift of marriage between husband and wife. May that spirit of love be our banner always.
Brian S. Brown