Beliefnet
Rod Dreher

On The Atlantic’s site, Wendy Kaminer writes:

An openly gay student seeking a graduate degree in counseling at a state university is expelled for refusing to agree that homosexuality is immoral and declining to enter an anti-gay indoctrination program. An openly gay high school guidance counselor speaks out in favor of same sex marriage and is brought before a state licensing board to answer complaints against her filed by marriage opponents. If you’re a gay rights advocate or liberal civil libertarian, you’re probably outraged by such gross violations of freedom of speech and conscience. Now ask yourself if you’re equally outraged to learn that the victims in these cases were not your friends and allies but your opponents — conservative Christians who have been targeted for their beliefs about the immorality of homosexuality and same sex marriage, respectively.

Kaminer, who is a liberal and a civil libertarian, goes on to explore the details of the two cases she cites, and to explain why she believes these two people were unfairly punished for legitimate expression of their religious beliefs. She goes on:

The targeting of Julea Ward and Donald Mendell reflects a tendency to confuse speech or belief with conduct and to seek reprisals against people or groups whose views are equated with actual discrimination. But equating speech with action is also a semantic dodge for people who prefer not acknowledging (even to themselves) that they support censorship and restraints on freedom of conscience. In the Ward and Mendell cases, “complainants are wielding the canons of professional ethics as if they were blasphemy codes for the state church and you have to punish these people as heretics,” Alliance Defense Fund attorney Jordon Lorence asserts. “Who’s being the narrow minded fundamentalist and who’s being the civil libertarian in these discussions?”

I insist that anyone who wishes to discuss this case read the Kaminer piece first. And please note, I will unpublish any comments that stray from a strict discussion of First Amendment issues raised by these cases. I’m not interested in hosting a forum for people to vent about how awful Christians are, how rotten gays are, and so forth. Let’s stick to the free speech/freedom of religion theme.

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