SB 180 promotes the time-honored principle of “live and let live”
Senate Bill 180 is a bill to protect the freedom of religion and rights of conscience of those individuals who provide artistic, expressive, creative, ministerial or spiritual goods or services.
What this bill does NOT do is allow businesses to deny service to customers based on their sexual orientation. Public accommodations that provide general goods and services must serve all customers. For example, a restaurant owner could not deny service to a transgendered individual, and a bakery could not refuse to sell pies or cookies to someone because of their sexual orientation.
However, as we are all aware, bakers, florists, photographers and other creative artists across the United States have been subject to large civil fines, damages, and massive legal fees NOT because they were unwilling to serve members of the LGBT community . . . because they DID serve the LGBT community with their products and services. They were punished and, in some cases, run out of business because of their conscientious objection to participating in the celebration of a same-sex marriage.
Because of sincerely-held orthodox religious beliefs, they simply did not believe they could use their skills to provide a customized service celebrating something that violated one of the tenants of their faith.
Shouldn’t florists, bakers and other creative artists’ First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, be respected?
A true test of good policy is that it deals with both sides equally. Senate Bill 180 also protects LGBT bakers who don’t want to create and deliver a 50th anniversary celebration cake to Westboro Baptist Church. Likewise, a Jewish bakery would not have to create a cake with a swastika for a neo-nazi event.
Section 5 of the Kentucky Constitution says that “no authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience” yet that is what many wish to do – to have government force people into using their creative skills to participate in something that violates their faith and conscience.
Could the people who have brought suit against these small business owners have easily gotten their wedding cakes, photographs, or floral arrangements from other individuals? Of course! Very easily! But there is an agenda at work here that seeks to force people with sincerely held religious convictions to either abandon those beliefs, violate them or face state action that could close their businesses and destroy them financially.
Freedom of conscience has been long respected in America. The free exercise of religion is considered America’s “first freedom.” SB180 is designed to uphold that freedom and to clarify the junction where civil rights intersect – the newly-created right to marry someone of the same sex and the longstanding right of conscience and right to free exercise of religion.
This bill helps promote the time-honored principle of “live and let live” and encourages a balanced environment of mutual respect and civility in our public square.