Comments about ‘My view: Protecting freedom of speech’

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Published: Friday, March 21 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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george of the jungle
goshen, UT

Free-agency allows out Courts to be filled with nonsense, it's the judges responsibility to be respectable.

Durham, NC

Your examples are silly. The BBQ one... you don't hire a caterer and then ask them to make something that is not on their menu. Thats like going to McDonalds and asking for a salmon steak. McDonalds can easily say that they don't have that on their menu. The BBQ is just the same. A caterer has a menu they provide.

Likewise the photography example. In my early days after being at the Y - I was a staff photographer for the Daily Herald - I worked as a freelance photojournalist for the Mercury News shooting sports while completing my graduate work. I was asked several time to shoot weddings and things like senior portraits - to which i turned down, because it was not the type of photography I did.

The case in Oregon is more nuanced. The photographer was approached to do a style of photography they normally do. They were not asked to offer a service that was not something they normally do. I don't totally have my mind made up on this. I still do photography on occasion, and more types, but refuse to shoot youth. Its just my rule and no one has complained.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

The op-ed doesn't mention that New Mexico has a law that expressly protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation. The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the photographer violated this law.

Having said this, yes - let's continue to have this debate. Some questions/thoughts:

If the primary benefit that comes from an expression of one's religious belief in the public square is to declare that individual's religious perspective, should this right of free speech be given more weight than our collective goal to live in a cooperative and civil society - particularly when this right to expression is not completely foreclosed; there are ample (and protected) opportunities for expressing it outside of the public square?; and particularly when the belief being expressed serves to exclude individuals or groups not for the common good but solely for a religious purpose?

Also, for those who are religious, isn't living cooperatively and civilly an expression of your beliefs as well?

A Quaker
Brooklyn, NY

I think it's significant that the first two scenarios are imaginary. They haven't happened. The only thing that has happened is your third scenario.

It's easy to go wrong when you make imaginary comparisons and try to make an editorial point from them.

Do you know for a fact that it is an offense for a Moslem to be in the presence of an immodestly dressed woman? I expect you're wrong on that account. The religious stricture, for those who choose to follow it, is to not dress immodestly oneself. Your photographer would be in complete compliance taking pictures of a beach party, as long as she dressed appropriately herself to meet her own religion's expectations. No one else in her presence needs meet those expectations.

While many Jews follow the kosher laws, it again concerns themselves, defining what not to eat, what not to wear. Your ham and cheese sandwich isn't their problem. As for public accommodations law, you're only entitled to equal access to what is on offer.

Your third example, the real one, differs in that you claim a religious exception to other people's actions. Wrong.

Midwest City, USA, OK

@Karen R.
The issue raised in this article is that it is -not- discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. Their being lesbian had nothing to do with it-it was the nature of the ceremony. This is esecially in contrast with the Californian bartender who refuses service to those who don't support changing marriage, without penalty.

I, for one, would be -honored- if a Muslim photographer refused to take pictures at a beach party I threw because of the nature of swimsuits. It would warm my heart to meet someone with concerns about modesty and with the courage to say so.

Here, UT

If you won't serve the product of your business to ALL customers who come to your door, then you shouldn't be in business.

If your god tells you that you must NOT deal with sinners in your business then you should close your doors because *everybody* is a "sinner" according to nearly every religion, therefore serving ANY customer is violating your "religious beliefs" - or you should find another god to worship.

Murray, UT

Karen - Living ones religion is not done as a statement to others. Living ones religion is being true to ones self and to ones God. The disdain of others is meaningless to those of us of put our God first.

Bluedevil - nice cherry picking. Now about those swimsuits? or do you just hate Christians?

A Quaker
Brooklyn, NY

Besides this editorial, there have been a number of articles and comments in these pages trying to disparage public accommodations laws through absurd comparisons.

There is only one thing you're legally entitled to if you make a habit of demanding pizza at ice cream parlors, chow mein at pizza parlors, cheeseburgers at Chinese restaurants, and chicken vindaloo at hamburger stands: a competency hearing.

This in no way impinges your right of free speech to express your preferences or views. Perhaps pizza is your favorite food. Perhaps you loathe chicken vindaloo. While you have a right to say those things, you don't have a right to force it upon others. You may order as much pizza you like, at your local pizza parlor. You may avoid eating chicken vindaloo yourself. You cannot force every restaurant to serve pizza, nor every curry joint to close. That impinges upon others' rights. If your sister or daughter loves takeout chicken vindaloo, it's no injury to you as long as you're not the one eating it. You should be happy for them, while you enjoy your pizza.

salt lake city, utah

"The weapon of choice in the gay community is force". This is the core of the debate and problem here, all other polemics and speculation aside.

Some refuse to believe that being gay is inherent to humanity and therefore protected by human rights law.

Whether or not it's "moral" has noting to do with civil rights, unless the characteristic does harm to others. Being gay does no harm to others.

BTW; this is exactly why the state of Utah defense is structured as it is.

It would be like denying service to some one who is albino. Being albino is rare but inherently human and does no harm to others, so you don't get to deny service to that person based on their being albino. You can make up all the stories you want about why this person is albino but you can't legally deny them their human rights.

So Mike, believe all you want about the morality of homosexuality but unless you can prove it's not inherently human, or does harm to others you don't get to deny service based on that characteristic. Welcome to society and a civil world.

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

Why not use an example of....

A Mormon works in a Resturant.
A customer orders a cup of coffee.

Should the Customer denied service becase the Mormon doesn't drink coffee?

I'm Mormon,
I don't drink coffee.

But me denying service because I don't drink coffee is stupid.

Same goes for Gay wedding cakes, photographs and religous convictions.

Your religous convitions are not being threathened or denied by doing business with gays,
anymore than my keeping and living the Word of Wisdom is in jeopardy for serving a cup of coffee.

If you don't believe in Gay marriage, fine - don't get one.
But being uppity toward others, is bigotry.

Everett, 00

Are you as noble as Don Blair was, or would you tell us that you have the right to force us to abandon our principles?

9:27 a.m. March 21, 2014


Don Blair was a photographer Mike.
and by your desription, probably a very good man --
he was not a Constitutional Scholar, nor a Lawyer.

We are a country run by laws, not feelings and opinions.

If you want a country run by religous convictions,
move to Iran.

Why should America spend 5,000 lives, 75,000 causalties, and $3 trillion to fight the likes of Taliban abroad, and then turn right around and allow it here?

Steve C. Warren

If wedding photographers with Christian beliefs decline to photograph a same-sex ceremony for religious reasons, shouldn’t they also for religious reasons refuse to photograph engaged couples who sometimes take the name of the Lord in vain, who refuse to keep the Sabbath holy and who smoke pot? In other words, by declining only to photograph same-sex couples, it’s not really about religious beliefs. It's about antipathy toward gays.

Murray, UT

OMM - maybe your ability to live by your religious convictions is not be threatened or denied, but you only speak for your own religious convictions, not mine, or anyone else's. Just yours.

If you want to start your own religion, you can decide what the tenets are, and you can run the church and decide how those tenets are interpreted, but you are not the spokesman for any church, and you are not the spokesman for me, or any other person of religion.

Other people's (people of EVERY religion) religious rights are being threatened and denied, right here in the US, and even right here in Utah.

Durham, NC


"Bluedevil - nice cherry picking. Now about those swimsuits? or do you just hate Christians?"

Ah… for todays BadgerBadger…. I hate Christians now…. good golly. Its real easy, photographers all over the world turn down swimsuit, lingerie, glamor… what ever you want to call it… shoots all the time. Never have done one myself… don't plan on doing one either… and I am not even Muslim…. Not sure I said anything about christians… swimsuits… or christians wearing swimsuits.

"The disdain of others is meaningless to those of us of put our God first."….. followed by a snide comment that I must hate christians…. nicely done.

I am feeling the Christian love emanating from Murray

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah


You've used your right to speak to use several names. You've used your right of speech to tell us that you, not the Church you belong to or the God that directs that Church, to define what type of marriage is correct. You have that right to speak. Everyone who has posted has the right to speak freely. What you don't have is the right to dictate to others that they must violate principles of conscience in their business just because you personally accept a type of "marriage" that is not in agreement with mine, or a photographers. God holds us all accountable for the way we use our "right" to speak. Some of us use that "right" to promote what He has decreed while others use that "right" to disagree with God.

Philadelphia, PA


Claiming your freedom of religion is somehow threatened is complete, total, and utter nonsense.

Are your churches being shuttered, banned? Have you been arrested for coming out of them?

Is it a crime to proselytize your religion?

Have you been arrested for heresy, blasphemy, or apostasy?

Are you being threatened with hanging for refusing to recant your religion?

Has the state denounced you for your religion, seized your property and exiled you under threat of death if you return?

Have your religious books or artifacts been declared illegal, taken from you and burned?

Have you been forcibly converted to another religion, tortured until you signed a pledge of devotion?

History shows us ALL OF THE ABOVE have happened to people without religious freedom. Right through the 20th century. Some even today. NONE of that has happened in the USA since our Constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state was established as the law of the land.

We should be SO grateful!

Cherish that separation. Don't begrudge others their freedom. Destroy theirs and you lose your own in the process.

Durham, NC

Hold you breath here… but I actually agree with Mike Richards second posting here. He is spot on. This is about mutual respect. Sure the law has part of it… but the law should be the last barrier reached. If people respect you, you will not be asked to do things that they know are against your morals or beliefs. His example of a lab having the right to determine what kind of work it will do… is reasonable and fare.

Just as you would not ask a devout jewish photographer to work on his Sabbath. It is perfectly ok for Chick-fil-A to be closed on Sundays..even if you are hungry. But the nuance here is they are closed to everyone. The Jewish photographer can't shoot on Saturday, because doing so would require him/her to violate one of their beliefs. Printing nudes would require one to see nudes, which is a violation Mike's beliefs. They cause you to do something overtly against your beliefs.

It is about respect… and respecting everyones beliefs. I can respect your choice while not being an active part of enabling that choice.

Salt Lake City, UT

@Jamescmeyer - You should read some of the court decisons on the Hugenin case, it's enlightening. Courts have held your distinction ("Their being lesbian had nothing to do with it-it was the nature of the ceremony") is a distinction without a difference.

The New Mexico Supreme Court quoted the US Supreme Court: "While it is true that the law applies only to conduct, the conduct targeted by this law is conduct that is closely correlated with being homosexual. Under such circumstances, [the] law is targeted at more than conduct. It is instead directed toward gay persons as a class."

To connect the dots: Elane Hugenin refused to photograph a lesbian couples wedding. Straight couples don't have gay weddings. Hugenin's sole purpose for refusing her services was the identity of the persons involved (lesbians) which is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Again, from the NM Supreme Court: "In this case, we see no basis for distinguishing between discrimination based on sexual orientation and discrimination based on someone’s conduct of publicly committing to a person of the same sex."

Everett, 00

Steve C. Warren
If wedding photographers with Christian beliefs decline to photograph a same-sex ceremony for religious reasons, shouldn’t they also for religious reasons refuse to photograph engaged couples who sometimes take the name of the Lord in vain, who refuse to keep the Sabbath holy and who smoke pot?


What about couples who "Living In Sin" together,
Have had children out-of-wedlock,
Have had ANY Sexual Relations?

Same broken Law of Chastity.

They should at least be consistant and show integrity with their religous bigotry.

As far as a business is concerned --
Just like with coupons, menus, catalogs, advertisments, or posted hours of operation ---

I think placing something as simple as a disclaimer stating what your will or won't do -- no hidden costs or surprises.

Salt Lake City, UT

The biggest problem with the arguments is the assumption that providing a service makes you an accessory or accomplice to their "sin." By denying service you are not impeding their immorality at all. Providing the service is not your sin. You are not scantily clothed, eating non-kosher foods or engaging in homosexual acts. When I drove cab I knew I was transporting individuals who were engaged in what I considered immoral behavior. And I will not even use the argument they could get a ride from another driver. If you open a law-abiding business, you serve the law-abiding public. If laws are passed, like the one vetoed in Arizona, it will be hard to draw the line in so many gray areas (those immoral activities described are not illegal) and it would open the door to discrimination against people of different religious beliefs.

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