The war by big government against people who don’t conform to their ever-evolving worldview continues. Take two cases in two different blue states: the Oregon bakers and the Minnesota truckers. Both objected to performing a service on the basis of religious conscience, but who was right in the eyes of the law?
The Oregon bakers, Aaron and Melissa Klein, refused to bake a cake. Period. For the “crime” of refusing service to a lesbian couple’s wedding cake, Oregon’s political correctness enforcement agency, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled they owe the aggrieved couple $135,000. The judgement could result in the dissolution of the Klein’s property, which is outright confiscation. The couple who brought the complaint were not even seeking damages.
If you would, juxtapose that with a federal court ruling in favor of truck drivers who were terminated from employment for refusing to transport alcohol, namely beer. Keep in mind, the equipment used to transport the alcohol was owned by the now defunct Star Transport, not the drivers. They chose to apply to a company that delivered these products, and expected their employer’s acquiescence. With the help of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an Obama appointed judge awarded the aggrieved truckers $240,000.
On the surface, it might lead one to conclude that the disparity is simply that the former are Christians, while the latter are Muslims; maybe that’s all there is to it.
However, assuming which religions are invoked in each case do not actually matte; what we have is a legal standard where a company cannot refuse to perform a service out of religious objections, but an employee can.
Either way, the difference is somewhat political; to put it in the literary terms of Orwell’s Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” The government has successfully created a protection racket, under which protected classes are endowed with specialized rights, usually at the expense of groups they find distasteful.
In these cases, there are separate rights for businesses and employees.
The Kleins are an example of this, who, because they were a company, found themselves on the wrong side the Left’s newfound orthodoxy on what constitutes discrimination. And the truckers are also an example where, because they were employees, benefited from the current body of law when it comes to religious conscience exceptions.
Religious freedom under the First Amendment is not just for the benefit for the majority, but the minority as well. In that sense, a Muslim baker should have as much a right to deny services to a gay couple out of religious objections as a Christian one.
Unfortunately for the Kleins and people like them, that is not the standard. As they have learned the hard way, as a business, the government refuses to tolerate anyone who does not share their views.
Ironically, the implication is that the Christian employee of a baker in Oregon could refuse, under federal law, to bake the cake for a gay couple getting married for religious reasons, and sue their employer for firing them, but then that company will still be compelled to bake the cake under state law, all the while paying damages to the former employee.
Remember that one way street from earlier? It travels from big government, away from the freedom of expression, and for the sake of the nation, we’d better find a way to turn back. Because the unintended consequence may be that some classes end up being more equal than others.
This is a guest post by Robert Romano senior editor of Americans for Limited Government & Dustin Howard Social Media Manager for the Americans for Limited Government.