by Eric Teetsel, President and Executive Director of Family Policy Alliance of Kansas
In a recent editorial, Patrick Miller asks, “does the State choose a system where one citizen has the license to limit another citizen’s rights?”
Miller, assistant professor of political science at the University of Kansas, is concerned by the passage of the Adoption Protection Act, which affirms the right of faith-based adoption and foster care service providers to operate consistent with their sincerely-held religious beliefs, enshrining in law what has been practiced in Kansas for more than 60 years. Describing the bill, Miller writes, “If you are a LGBT Kansan, the state has essentially singled you out and placed you in a formal ‘separate but equal’ system.”
On Twitter, Miller elaborated on this comparison to Jim Crow, the legal system of forced racial segregation, saying that as a Southerner, support for, or indifference to, the Adoption Protection Act was reminiscent of his home state’s history of legal bigotry. “Welcome to the pre-1964 South,” Miller wrote.
This sort of rhetoric is all too common in contemporary debates over religious freedom and sex. During debate on the Adoption Protection Act, Rep. Diana Dierks suggested the bill was like something from Nazi Germany, while Sen. Barbara Bollier described the teaching of the Catholic Church as “sick discrimination.”
This is precisely the language Justice Anthony Kennedy had in mind when he wrote of “a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs” of baker Jack Phillips, in violation of the First Amendment, in his majority opinion in the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop case.
But the problem with this rhetoric isn’t merely its hostility toward people of faith. Rhetoric like that of Miller’s displays a troubling ignorance about religion and its role in society and misconstrues the place of LGBT people in contemporary culture, demeaning the injustices experienced by the black community in this country.
Miller makes several claims about LGBT discrimination, yet he cites no evidence, even anecdotal, to show that anyone in Kansas is experiencing it. Meanwhile, June was National LGBT Pride Month, and if you walked around Oak Park Mall you would see rainbow décor and “Equality” slogans on virtually every storefront. Indeed, in Kansas and throughout the country, the strongest proponents of LGBT activism are corporations like AT&T, Delta and ESPN. A person can’t use a cellphone, fly on an airplane, or buy a pair of khakis without tacitly endorsing homosexuality. And Miller would have us believe we are living in an age of Jim Crow?
The reason for such furious backlash against laws like the Adoption Protection Act is plain. LGBT activists can’t accept that a segment of the population will not bend the knee to their agenda. Tim Gill, a multimillionaire donor bankrolling the LGBT movement, told Rolling Stone, “We’re going to punish the wicked.”
New York Times reporter Josh Barro echoed this when he tweeted, “Anti-LGBT attitudes are terrible for people in all sorts of communities. They linger and oppress, and we need to stamp them out, ruthlessly.”
Indeed, it is activists like Gill, Barro, and Miller who advocate a system that limits another citizen’s rights – the First Amendment rights of people of faith.
Their position stands in contrast to the love and kindness demonstrated by people of faith like Jack Phillips and florist Barronelle Stutzman. Each welcomed LGBT customers for years before being sued and penalized by their states for declining a specific service in a unique circumstance. The crux for Phillips and Stutzman wasn’t the orientation of their customer, but the duty they owed to God. They couldn’t, in good conscience, use their God-given gifts and talents to celebrate an event that their faith teaches is immoral.
Faith-based adoption providers are in a similar circumstance. Several of those who serve kids in need of a family are motivated by a faith that teaches them to care for orphans. That same faith teaches that God designed the family to consist of a mother and father, each of whom plays an irreplaceable role in the life of their child. For this reason, groups like Catholic Charities don’t place with single parents, either – not even the pope. This isn’t discrimination, but a sincere belief about what’s best for the child.
Kansans are at our best when we live peacefully with those who don’t always share our beliefs and values. Granting special new legal protections to “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” is an unnecessary, bad idea that runs counter to this vision of tolerance and mutual respect.