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December 17th, 2017

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Onward, Christian Florists

Debra J. Saunders

By Debra J. Saunders

Published March 31, 2015

 Onward, Christian Florists

"There's something very dangerous happening in states across the country," Apple chief executive Tim Cook warned Monday in a Washington Post opinion piece against Indiana's newly passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It matters not to the corporate big shot that President Bill Clinton signed a federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993 (which current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi supported) or that then-Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama voted for a similar law in 1998.

It was one thing for Democrats to support religious freedom when there was no downside to standing up for the devout. Today there could be a cost. An Indiana baker might refuse to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple and cite the new law if the couple were to sue him or her. Cook believes that such discrimination would be "bad for business." I agree. Cook also believes that the baker wouldn't have the right to say no. I do not agree with that.

When Obama first ran for the White House, he supported a ban on same-sex marriage. If Cook had a problem with Obama's stand, he kept it to himself. Years later, Obama announced that his position had evolved and he had come to support same-sex marriage. Voila: Now anyone who disagrees with same-sex marriage is a bigot and thus has no rights.

Except religious dissenters do have rights. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that family-owned corporations have religious rights. In the 5-4 Hobby Lobby decision, the big bench recognized CEO David Green's right to get around an Affordable Care Act mandate that his employer-sponsored health plan offer employees contraceptives that, Green argued, "risk killing an embryo."

Last year, federal court rulings legalized same-sex marriage in Indiana. In a more tolerant world, the court rulings would leave gay couples free to marry and religious dissenters free to not cater same-sex weddings. Each side would win the right to be true to itself.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, was no profile in courage when he appeared Sunday on ABC's "This Week." Host George Stephanopoulos repeatedly asked Pence whether the law he signed last week would allow a florist to refuse to serve a gay couple at their wedding. "Yes or no?" Stephanopoulos asked. Pence would not give a simple answer -- that a florist could use the new law if a gay couple were to sue him.

Pence did ask, "Is tolerance a two-way street or not?" The answer from corporate boardrooms appears to be "not."

Pence -- who may be thinking of running for the White House himself -- obviously sees powerful forces aligned against him. Angie's List announced it was stopping a major project in Indianapolis. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff tweeted, "We are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination." (The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway was amused that Benioff stood up to Indiana while doing business with China, a bastion of human rights abuses.)

"Opposing discrimination takes courage," Cook wrote. He has the Democratic Party, some Republicans, Hollywood and CEO-dom on his side -- and they completely outgun true believers who oppose same-sex marriage. They're not standing up to China; they're standing up to Hoosier Christian florists.

They think they're brave when they're rank bullies for whom it's not enough to win; they have to make dissenters buckle.

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