No compromise

07.20.2012, 6:33 PM

At Public Discourse, Robby George argues that:

The fundamental error made by some supporters of conjugal marriage was and is, I believe, to imagine that a grand bargain could be struck with their opponents.

By “grand bargain,” George means, gay marriage as law plus religious liberty for those who disagree with gay marriage.

George agrees with and quotes the legal scholar Robert Visher, who concludes that

there is, in my opinion, no chance—no chance—of persuading champions of sexual liberation (and it should be clear by now that this is the cause they serve), that they should respect, or permit the law to respect, the conscience rights of those with whom they disagree.

Commenting on the article, R. R. Reno at First Things agrees, saying:

George is certainly right. The arguments used by progressives have a “total war” and “unconditional surrender” logic … This will not allow for bargains or compromises.

Maybe they are right.  But I’m not so sure, and I can’t figure out why they are now and always have been so completely, certainly sure that no compromise is possible and that therefore the only solution is a culture war to the finish.  I’ve noticed that a good number of people on both sides of the gay marriage divide do seem to agree on one thing:  that their opponents are ruthless zealots with whom compromise is not only unlikely, but unthinkable.


30 Responses to “No compromise”

  1. Myca says:

    I think that this obviously depends on what ‘respect the conscience of’ means in this context, but as a supporter of SSM, I can honestly say that I don’t believe I’ve ever discussed the issue with another supporter who believed, for example, that churches ought to be forced to conduct same-sex marriages.

    I don’t think that businesses should be free to deny medical benefits to same-sex spouses but not opposite sex-spouses, but, then that has more to do with the financial incentive being too strong, I don’t think that they ought to be able to deny benefits to spouses of another race, etc.

    For those of you who oppose SSM … what sort of conscience protections would be necessary for you to support it?

    For those of you who support SSM … what conscience assurances would you be amenable to in order to achieve it?

    —Myca

  2. Jeffrey says:

    Every state that has passed same-sex marriage has included broad religious exemptions. George’s “grand bargain” requires going one step forward and allowing conscience objections that have never been part of the American tradition and repudiated during the end of the Jim Crow era.

    I think there can be more exemptions beyond just covering religious organizations, but the compromise is really something that’s being debated outside the gay marriage issue as part of the health care reform. We know that activists believe hospitals and colleges and schools should get the same kind of exemption that an actual religious institution does. But George wants something more. Any random believer would be exempt from following marriage laws, even if is a private business or private person. That’s unprecedented and not realistic.

  3. Fitz says:

    To add to Prof George’s point: Remeber we are in a “argument” with people who kicked off this entire battle by calling their advesaries entire argument “irrational bigotry”.

    There is a protaganist in this play and it is manifestly not the defenders of traditional marriage.

    It seems clear to many of us that the 14th amendment arguments conclusion that marriage defenders arguments lack a “rational basis” is yet another example of “raw judicial power” rather than a good faith application of existing law.

    I dont understand why anyone associated with the defense of marriage would not see the advocates of same-sex “marriage” as even prone to compromise at any level.

    Indeed the judicial approach requires absolutest rhetoric & application to remain consistant.

    If they had even attempted a democratic approach than I think compromise would have been inevitable & largly along traditionilists terms.

    However – this was not ever there strategey, and as long as the judicial approach holds the promise of giving them everything they want, I dont see why advocates of same-sex “marriage” would even consider any compromises.

  4. Matt N says:

    I’m confused about what the grand bargain here is – same-sex couples can have equal marriage rights, but they don’t have a guarantee that they can use them? That’s not exactly equality, as far as I can tell.

    Or, what Myca said – what are these conscience rights exactly? Freedom to criticize (which I’m pretty sure is protected unless it’s libelous or slanderous)? Or freedom to deny services?

  5. Myca says:

    I think there can be more exemptions beyond just covering religious organizations, but the compromise is really something that’s being debated outside the gay marriage issue as part of the health care reform. We know that activists believe hospitals and colleges and schools should get the same kind of exemption that an actual religious institution does. But George wants something more. Any random believer would be exempt from following marriage laws, even if is a private business or private person. That’s unprecedented and not realistic.

    Ahh, yeah, that’s more or less what I thought he meant.

    No, I’d be open to EXACTLY the same sorts of conscience protections that exist when it comes to interracial marriage. Churches wouldn’t have to do anything, but doctors couldn’t refuse to operate just because they’re racists/homophobes.

    That’s a pretty established standard, I think.

    —Myca

  6. La Lubu says:

    What George is missing is that there is a difference between the public and private spheres. Religious institutions are free to withhold marriage from same-sex couples (or from couples in which one or both partners were previously divorced), because those aren’t public institutions. No one is required to join them, nor are they supported by taxpayer funds.

    Hospitals and colleges are a different story—they receive taxpayer funds. It is entirely possible for a religious institution to form a “members only” hospital or college, decline taxpayer support (like grants and Medicare) and legally bar anyone they wished from receiving services. That no one does so isn’t because of not wanting to be branded as bigots, but because they don’t have the critical mass needed to make such an endeavor possible. Hospitals and colleges that attempted to rely solely on the contributions of people who held (for example) keeping same-sex couples from receiving services, employment, or other benefits as a higher priority than say, the normal mission of a hospital or college (healing the sick; educating people)—simply wouldn’t be able to keep their doors open for long.

    As for the free-speech issue: while everyone is entitled to voice their opinion, they are not entitled to freedom from being judged by others for it, nor are they entitled to the indulgence of their employer if they voice their opinion at work, on the job. Most employers don’t want to host a hostile work environment.

  7. JeffreyRO5 says:

    Is Mr. George officially conceding?! This sounds like a concession speech. Is l’affair Regnerus the last straw for him and the anti-gays? Will there be an official announcement forthcoming?!

    I remain amused at Mr. George’s belief that he and his co-conspirators “own” marriage. I love when he speaks of betrayal, as if he was forced to share a prized possession. The issue has been hashed out thoroughly and movement appears headed in one direction. The argument for limiting marriage to straight couples was never substantive, only rhetorical. That might explain why things are turning out the way they are.

    Of course, the talk of religious freedom compromised is a red herring. Religionists are free to hate gay people, or renounce them as sinners, or whatever it is that they think their religions require, even when same-sex marriage is legal. Fred Phelps is proof of that. When adultery was de-criminalized, and divorced legalized, religious persons were still free not to engage in those activities, and to denounce persons who did. Funny, religious persons were as eager to adopt those activities as non-religious persons! Perhaps that’s Mr. George’s fear: without government support, religious belief collapses. Still, religious persons will remain free to marry, even when same-sex couples enjoy the institution, too. We know this to be true, as evidenced in places where same-sex marriage is legal. We know it intellectually, too, but it’s always satisfying when the theoretical and the practical converge! And the assumption that “religious freedom” trumps all other considerations is a shaky one, anyway.

    “The whole argument was and is that the idea of marriage as the union of husband and wife lacks a rational basis and amounts to nothing more than “bigotry.””

    Or, the idea that marriage as the union of husband and wife ONLY lacks a rational basis and amounts to nothing more than “bigotry.” There is not now, nor has there ever been, the need to exclude same-sex couples from marriage, in order for straight couples to believe their marriages are whatever they want them to be. It is only recently that marriage has been defined as a union limited to different-sexed couples. Practiced exclusively by different-sex couples, yes; defined as their exclusive domain, to the exclusion of same-sex couples, no.

    “Since no reason supports the idea of marriage as a male-female union or a partnership of two persons and not more”

    Really? I’d say that the concept of commitment requires that marriage be limited to two people! How can you commit to two or more people, as hard as it is to commit to one person? Because divorce so readily fells two-person marriages, why would society expand to three-or-more-person marriages, which increase the odds of divorce exponentially?

    “….they do not see these disputes about sex and marriage as honest disagreements among reasonable people of goodwill.”

    I wonder why? Maggie Gallagher’s inanities alone have poisoned any goodwill. I remember, fondly, the oxymoronic period when she simultaneously insisted that marriage was a state’s rights issue and the country needed a federal marriage amendment. Ah, the good old days. When she calls it a culture war, that’s not exactly extending an olive branch. When she and NOM lie incessantly to portray gay and lesbian individuals and couples unflatteringly, there’s no need to worry about who’s going to sit next to whom at the peace table. When she cocks her head to one side during a television interview, visibly annoyed that she even has to explain why society should favor straight romantic relationships, it doesn’t scream “honest broker!” When she fails to concede a single concern by same-sex marriage supporters, such as constitutionally guaranteed equal rights or concerns about children being raised out of wedlock or in a society that judges their parents are unworthy, she doesn’t build trust; a more sophisticated debater (and the anti-gay marriage movement generally) would have had more success by recognizing the concerns of gay and lesbian couples, especially those raising children. What about gay people, including teens and young adults, committing suicide? Sorry, does not compute.

  8. JHW says:

    Robert George is NOT quoting Robert Vischer. The part of the article David Blankenhorn quotes is George’s own words. (There’s a closed quotation mark in the middle of the paragraph it comes from.)

    As to the merits, Robert George is only right if he thinks that it can never make sense to defend exemptions or protections for moral/religious beliefs and practices you disagree vehemently with. But the whole tradition of accommodation of moral and religious conscience is founded on the opposite view. That’s part of what it means to be concerned with liberty, and not just with people doing what you would like them to.

  9. Fitz says:

    “Or, the idea that marriage as the union of husband and wife ONLY lacks a rational basis and amounts to nothing more than “bigotry.” “

    Im afraid this is a subtle but important distinction. The rational basis test of the 14th amendment only requires that courts judge the rationality of the given marriage staute. Not a revised understanding that incorparates the opponents arguments.

    This is an a extrmeley deferential basis – indeed the most deferential of basis for laws duly consituted by the legislature.

    See Heller v. Doe and this paragraph from the opinion describing the rational basis test:

    “Finally, courts are compelled under rational-basis review to accept a legislature’s generalizations even when there is an imperfect fit between means and ends. A classification does not fail rational-basis review because it “`is not made with mathematical nicety or because in practice it results in some inequality.’”

    Once this is understood, it becomes clearer why myself and Prof George and marriage defenders can say with certainty “It seems clear to many of us that the 14th amendment arguments conclusion that marriage defenders arguments lack a “rational basis” is yet another example of “raw judicial power” rather than a good faith application of existing law.”

    There entire “movment” has been predicated on the clear legal misapropration. While garden variety same-sex “marriage” advocates may believe this is a good faith assertion… one need only scratch the surfice amoung law proffesors, lawyers, Judges and honest activists to assertain admisions of bad faith.

    “If there is such a right(same sex marriage) it will have to be manufactured by the justices out of whole cloth.”
    Richard Posner of the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

    If this is in fact the case (& we believe it is) It is then easy to understand why Prof George and others would find any idea that same-sex “marriage” advocates would compromise to be illusiory.

    They have already showed their zelotry when it comes to their cause. The idea that they would sink this low only to rize to the levelr respect for religious liberty seems spurious.

  10. fannie says:

    Shorter Fitz:

    It’s wrong for SSM advocates to smear us as bigots acting in bad faith. By the way, pretty much everyone in the SSM advocacy movement is a bigot acting in bad faith

    Seriously, how does his rhetoric advance this discourse here?

    It does a real disservice, I think, to any rational, fair arguments that SSM opponents have.

  11. JeffreyRO5 says:

    Fitz, what is the rational public purpose in excluding same-sex couples from getting married or, if you prefer, limiting marriage licenses to different-sex couples? What public purpose or policy is advanced, when governments limit marriage rights to straight people? What public purposes or policies are harmed when governments limit marriage rights to straight people?

    If you think blame lies with the courts, why blame same-sex marriage advocates?

    On what do you suggest same-sex marriage advocates compromise? Anything less than marriage rights is second-class status for gay couples.

    Here’s the compromise I recommend: legalize same-sex marriage for 25 years in all states. If any negative consequences develop that outweigh the benefits, we hold a national referendum to return to today’s status quo, where each state can decide for itself whether to legalize, or not legalize, same-sex marriage.

    How about it? You in?

  12. Phil says:

    To answer Myca’s question, I am an SSM supporter, and I’d be fine with any conscience protections that would ensure that same-sex marriages are treated EXACTLY the same under the law as heterosexual marriages.

    That means that a person, business, or institution would have the same right to criticize or discriminate against a married same-sex couple as they would a married interfaith couple, for example. It also means, for all practical purposes, that no additional conscience protections are necessary, because all relevant conscience protections are already in the status quo.

    I interpret Robert George’s statements not as a call for religious freedom, but for religious _privilege_. He seems to want the law to make special exemptions only for people who share his religious views.

    Are there any SSM opponents who can explain clearly and logically what conscience protections they think are appropriate with regard to same-sex marriage? Is there anything that isn’t already the status quo that you’d like to see written into law?

  13. Fitz says:

    JeffreyRO5 (writes)

    “Fitz, what is the rational public purpose in excluding same-sex couples from getting married or, if you prefer, limiting marriage licenses to different-sex couples? What public purpose or policy is advanced, when governments limit marriage rights to straight people? What public purposes or policies are harmed when governments limit marriage rights to straight people?”

    Not a single one of these statements gets the law correct as far as the question up for review. In all this parsing, not a single mention or even running across what State courts & SCOTUS will actually be asked as a matter of law..

    Perhaps you should go back and try and read some of your advesaries legal briefs…or even legal opinions that ultimently side with you.

    “If you think blame lies with the courts, why blame same-sex marriage advocates?”

    If you re-read what I write above you will realize that my assertion is one of bad faith by the courts that have ruled in your favor in the handfull of juristictions were traditional marriage laws have been found to “lack a rational basis”.

    It is my & Prof George’s contention that these Judges are ruling this way on behalf of advocates for same-sex “marriage” and sexual liberationist ideology in general.

  14. Mont D. Law says:

    (It is my & Prof George’s contention that these Judges are ruling this way on behalf of advocates for same-sex “marriage” and sexual liberationist ideology in general.)

    Except in your country it is the courts that are mandated to make these decisions. If when you lose your only answer is “well judges are all the unthinking slaves of my enemy”, as opposed to good men diligently following the law and precident what possibility of compromise are you actually offering.

  15. Fitz says:

    “Except in your country it is the courts that are mandated to make these decisions.”

    Actuallt they are not. If you followed these aruments with any scrutiny you would realize that we have said all along that such decisions are rightfully the province of the legislative branch of goverment.

    “as opposed to good men diligently following the law and precident”

    Both the law & precedent on this issue are clear. That is how I come to the conclusion that our advesaries are acting in “bad faith”.

    This is not an unusual charge in the least. It indeed has been the enduring charge of conservative legal scholars since (at least) the warren court.

    It is why I use the term “raw judicial powert” – It is a term used by Justice White of the Supreme Court in the dissenting opinion in the infomous Roe v Wade ruling.

    It is the source and summit of “living consitutionalism” – the theory of judicial review that gives liceance to judges to act in bad faith if they believe the public policy behind their rulings is sufficently “progressive” to warrent its application.

    Without this approach same-sex “marriage” advocates would have had a hard time getting even civil unions in liberal states like Vermont.

  16. JeffreyRO5 says:

    “It is my & Prof George’s contention that these Judges are ruling this way on behalf of advocates for same-sex “marriage” and sexual liberationist ideology in general.”

    Translation: when judges rule against me, they don’t understand how the system is supposed to work.

    “we have said all along that such decisions are rightfully the province of the legislative branch of goverment.”

    Except, of course, when we insist that the people vote on marriage rights, since we know that is where our best hope lies: cobbling together a voting bloc of religionists, homophobes and straight supremacists. We can’t be quite as certain that legislatures will vote as we want them to, or that governor’s won’t veto marriage discrimination bills. So strike all that stuff about wanting the legislature to decide!

    “Both the law & precedent on this issue are clear. That is how I come to the conclusion that our advesaries are acting in “bad faith”.”

    Whom are you referring to when you say “advesaries”? Supporters of same-sex marriage or judges? Opponents of discriminatory marriage laws have every right to pursue legal remedies if they believe their constitutional rights are being denied.

    I still find it incredible that you’re pushing the “they got it wrong” line when so many judges, and more often than not, judges appointed by Republicans, have found laws that irrationally let straight couples, but not gay couples, marry, unconstitutional. Was the US Supreme Court wrong to strike down bans on inter-racial marriage?

  17. Fitz says:

    Jeff (writers)

    “when judges rule against me, they don’t understand how the system is supposed to work.”

    They undertand perfectly how the system is supposed to work. They realize that democratic majorities would never vote for same-sex “marriage” & they realize that the law and precedent are clear and that traditional marriage laws more than meet the rational basis test.

    They are simply willing to set these facts aside for what they consider more progressive ends – hence “bad faith”.

    You dont seem to really have a grasp of the legal issues present here nor the arguments of your advesaries. You have not really met any of the points I have made or have simply tried to mischarachterize them into straw men you feel comfortable engaging.

  18. JeffreyRO5 says:

    Fitz, I think I get you perfectly! If judges don’t rule in your favor, they have misunderstood the law and/or their role in government.

    So in Iowa, in ruling on the constitutionality of Iowa’s marriage law vis-a-vis Iowa’s constitution, all seven judges, in a unanimous decision, got it wrong. They ruled that Iowa’s constitutional equal protection clause actually meant what it said: all citizens are to be treated equally under the law. They were too blinded by their slavish devotion to advancing a largely unpopular political cause, for a small minority, at risk to their careers (three judges ended up getting fired, in no small part to NOM’s disapproval) and their legal integrity and legacies. Oh, and so did the appellate judge, whose earlier ruling they confirmed. All eight of these judges were so distracted by the heady cause of same-sex marriage that they couldn’t think straight.

    That’s mighty convenient for you. Not too convincing, but convenient.

  19. Fitz says:

    Jeff

    If your going to continue to take my very straighforward and well represented opinion and misrepresent it (perhaps to yourself) then I may have to stop responding to your queries.

    My point of view onn this subject is not even remotley unusuall… Indeed it is well represented by people like Robert George who is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University.

    One persistant problem that same-sex “marriage” proponents on this blog have is there almost complete ignorance of the arguments and worldview of their advesaries.

    As I note in my answer to Montel Law… this is a set of beliefs & arguments that have been going on for 40+ years regarding human sexuality, the law, and the proper role of Judges.

    You would serve your cause better if you and people like Fannie familarized yourself with this worldview..

    Its proponents and their arguments are not going away… Perhaps understanding WHY your advesaries believe what they believe would be a better approach than trying to mischarachterize these arguments in ways that make you look obstinante and unknowledgable.

  20. Matt N says:

    Phil:

    I interpret Robert George’s statements not as a call for religious freedom, but for religious _privilege_. He seems to want the law to make special exemptions only for people who share his religious views.

    Very much so.

    And Fitz, tell me, since you’re so fond of a restrictive reading of the fourteenth amendment, what you think the ninth amendment.

  21. JeffreyRO5 says:

    “My point of view onn this subject is not even remotley unusuall….”

    I don’t think I said it was. There are lots of people who think the courts err when they overturn discriminatory laws, particularly when they don’t approve or, or dislike, the group being discriminated against.

    I doubt that Loving v. Virginia was met with warm approval in the South. I’ll bet people blamed the judges for all sorts of bad things. Yet it was a unanimous decision, making it difficult to believe that it was an unsound one. Just like the Iowa “Varnum” decision.

  22. David Blankenhorn says:

    One conclusion I draw from this thread is that it would be a good idea for someone (presumably someone opposed to ssm) to state with some specificity the actual content of desirable and permissable protections of religious liberty and the rights of conscience with respect to laws permitting same-sex marriage. I know that Robin Wilson and others are writing and thinking about this, but I am not sure of the state of the scholarly discussion, and it seems like, in the broader public discussion of these issues, most people (me included) are mainly talking in generalities. Wouldn’t it be helpful if we knew more specifically what this argument is actually about?

  23. Jeffrey says:

    That’s a good idea, David. There’s a lot of talk around this issue, so it’s hard to know exactly what religious liberty/conscience exemptions would look like.

  24. JeffreyRO5 says:

    I second (third?) the motion. I don’t understand how legal same-sex marriage, something unmentioned in the Bible or other religious texts, that I know of, creates an impediment to the free exercise of religious belief or practice. My sense is that when the Bible doesn’t mention something (airplanes, jet skis, tofu, snuggies, etc.) Christians don’t presume they are to be outlawed. Same-sex marriage seems to be the exception, for unclear reasons.

  25. Peter Hoh says:

    Join me to the list of those who would like George to be a little more specific about what religious liberties he would like to preserve. I’ve been reading Rod Dreher for a few years, and he is similarly resolute in his call for religious liberty protections, and yet vague about what these protections should include.

    I think it was clear that there would no compromise when the Blankenhorn-Rauch civil union compromise proposal was largely ignored, 3 and a half years ago.

    I’m not particularly inclined to blame one side more than the other for this, but it’s ridiculous to attempt to pile the blame on those who favor same-sex marriage. Exhibit one: state marriage amendments that specifically prohibit civil unions. Exhibit two: organized opposition to legislative efforts such as the Minnesota law that would have allowed same-sex couples to designate one another to make funeral arrangements.

  26. Matt N says:

    Here’s another way of considering the issue – does the lack of legal recognition of same-sex marriages performed in churches that are not opposed to same-sex marriage constitute religious discrimination?

    Part of the issue here is indeed an unclear idea on what the conscience clauses would pertain to and impact, but there’s also a fundamentally asymmetrical idea of the rights of religious groups on this issue.

  27. KellyK says:

    I’m not sure the “compromise” George proposes is a compromise so much as an agreement that people who oppose same-sex marriage should be free to legally discriminate against same-sex couples without any penalty, even if they’d never be allowed to do the same thing to an opposite-sex couple. There’s very little point in legal protections if people get to claim a religious exemption and ignore them.

    What I think would be an appropriate compromise is this. If it would be legal to discriminate against an opposite-sex couple for some religious reason, then it should be legal to discriminate against a same-sex couple for a religious reason in that same context. If it wouldn’t be legal to do to the opposite-sex couple, it should not be legal to do to the same-sex couple. I don’t know that you’d call it a “compromise” so much as “an application of the First Amendment and religious freedom and anti-discrimination laws that already exist,” but I think it would be very fair.

    Should a given church or pastor be required to perform a marriage ceremony that’s outside their religious beliefs? No, of course not. That applies equally to same-sex and opposite-sex weddings. For example, my Catholic sister-in-law and Quaker brother-in-law were married in the Catholic church. Per Catholic requirements, Dan had to agree to raise their children Catholic, and something about “openness to children” was included in their vows. If he hadn’t been willing to go along with this, no one would have forced the Church to give them a Catholic wedding anyway.

    But should a hospital be required to extend the same visitation rules and counseling services to a same-sex couple as to an opposite-sex one? Yes, of course. If Dan and Maggie had decided to get married by a justice of the peace instead, and she were admitted to a Catholic hospital, it would be blatant religious discrimination if a nurse were to say to Dan, “No, you can’t visit her because we don’t consider you to be ‘really’ married.” And unless I’m badly mistaken, it would be illegal. So, it should be similarly illegal to do it to a same-sex couple (and the fact that this kind of shameful treatment is legal when done to same-sex couples is morally unjustifiable).

    I would also like to point out that everybody’s marriage is against someone’s deeply-held beliefs. People arguing that they should be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples ought to consider carefully how they would be affected if that standard were applied to their own marriages *AND* they ended up in an area where the majority didn’t consider their marriage legitimate. Would you be so supportive of “conscience clauses” if they meant that you couldn’t have your spouse on your health insurance or could be denied hospital visitation? Or if any business that could make a case that providing you with goods or services was endorsing your marriage was allowed to refuse?

  28. KellyK says:

    Sorry for the two back-to-back comments, but Matt N. makes an excellent point. I can’t see how it’s religious discrimination to have a marriage that’s against your religion legally recognized, but it’s not religious discrimination to refuse to legally recognize a marriage because it’s against someone else’s religion.

  29. Mark Diebel says:

    Clergy, in most Christian traditions, as far as I know, are not required to officiate the wedding of anyone they believe should not be married for whatever reason. This is a basic difference for JP’s who must officiate if the state law permits it. The ability of clergy to decide has been long standing.

  30. StraightGrandmother says:

    I think we can succinctly sum up Robert Georges desire as is he woulds like to maintain the right to discriminate on Main Street against same sex married couples. He would like there to be an exemption for “My closely held religious beliefs” in public accommodations laws, for example. But let me give you a different example of how that would work.

    Scene: Gas station owned by a devout Muslim man.
    Setting: Rural Colorado, where the gas stations are 200 miles apart.
    Action: Your wife and 2 daughters driving through on the way to see her sister stops for gasoline. The Muslim gas station owner tells your wife that do to his closely held religious beliefs he cannot sell any gas to your wife unless she is accompanied by a close male family member. It is his firmly held religious beliefs.

    See how that would work, if we pick and choose who on Main Street we decide to serve or not serve, based on our firmly held religious beliefs? The Christians never think of this as they are in the majority, they never think how *they* could be discriminated against. It won’t be until Robert George’s wife is stuck in a small one gas station town in Colorado with not enough gas to make it 200 miles down the road to a non Muslim owned gas station that they will figure out that this idea of “I don’t want to serve you because of my firmly held religious belief” is a very bad idea. The idea always sounds great when you are doing the discriminating, not so much when you are on the receiving end. “No gas for you, you have to be accompanied by a close male family member”, think about it.