Patrick Stewart On Northern Ireland Bakers Who Refuse To Make Cake For Same-Sex Wedding

We’re all aware of the issues involving those in the wedding industry who refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings here in the US.

And similar issues have arisen abroad. For instance, in Northern Ireland, Ashers Bakery found itself on the losing end of a lawsuit for refusing to make a cake with the words “support gay marriage” above a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. The incident sparked widespread debate.

Talking on Newsnight last night, Star Trek & X-Men star Patrick Stewart was asked about the incident and he responded like this:

“Finally, I found myself on the side of the bakers.

“It was not because it was a gay couple that they objected, it was not because they were celebrating some sort of marriage or an agreement between them.

“It was the actual words on the cake they objected to. Because they found the words offensive. I would support their rights to say ‘no, this is personally offensive to my beliefs, I will not do it.'”

Watch Stewart explain below:

UPDATE: Patrick Stewart just posted this to his Facebook page. I’m guessing he got some push-back.

As part of my advocacy for Amnesty International, I gave an interview on a number of subjects related to human rights, civil rights and freedom of speech. During the interview, I was asked about the Irish bakers who refused to put a message on a cake which supported marriage equality, because of their beliefs. In my view, this particular matter was not about discrimination, but rather personal freedoms and what constitutes them, including the freedom to object. Both equality and freedom of speech are fundamental rights— and this case underscores how we need to ensure one isn’t compromised in the pursuit of the other. I know many disagree with my sentiments, including the courts. I respect and understand their position, especially in this important climate where the tides of prejudices and inequality are (thankfully) turning. What I cannot respect is that some have conflated my position on this single matter to assume I’m anti-equality or that I share the personal beliefs of the bakers. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be further from the truth. I have long championed the rights of the LGBT community, because equality should not only be, as the people of Ireland powerfully showed the world, universally embraced, but treasured.

Jeb Bush: Whatever SCOTUS Rules, I Don’t Believe In Marriage Equality

While I earlier had some hopes that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush might be one of the more “moderate” GOP nominees for prez, he’s now doubled down on his opposition to LGBT rights while speaking to Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody on Sunday.

“To imagine how we are going to succeed in our country unless we have committed family life, committed child-centered family system is hard to imagine,” said Bush. ““So, irrespective of the Supreme Court ruling because they are going to decide whatever they decide, I don’t know what they are going to do, we need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage.”

“It has to be — if we want to create a right to rise society, where people, particularly children born in poverty — if we want to have them to have a chance, it should be a core American value. We have to restore committed, loving family life with a mom and dad loving their children with their heart and soul.”

What’s lost in this statement is allowing gays and lesbians to marry CREATES committed family life. It allows same-sex couples that solid foundation for family life. So why not allow LGBTs to marry to help society be more solid?

Bush added that he does not believe there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, or as I like to call it – marriage.

He also reminded us all that he thinks business owners should have a right to discriminate against LGBTs if the gays offend “moral beliefs.”

“A big country, a tolerant country ought to be able to figure out the difference between discriminating someone because of their sexual orientation and not forcing someone to participate in a wedding that they find goes against their moral beliefs. We should be able to figure this out. This should not be that complicated gosh it is right now.”

So, now it’s not only “sincerely held religious beliefs” but simple opinions on “morals” would justify LGBT discrimination in Jeb Bush’s eyes.

How is a country expected to vote for a man who feels fine with discriminating against one subsection of the US population?

Georgia: Christian Florist Would Deny Service To Gays But Not Adulterers Because “It’s A Different Kind Of Sin”

CNN’s Gary Tuchman interviewed several florists in rural Georgia and asked if they would provide certain services to gay people.

All five said “no” based on their deeply held religious beliefs. Clearly, they follow every word of the Bible, right?

Well, maybe not all of them.

It turns out being an adulterer doesn’t disqualify you from being served by Melissa Jeffcoat.

Check out this excerpt from the segment:

Tuchman: … In the Ten Commandments, it says you can’t commit adultery…

Jeffcoat: Right.

Tuchman: It says you need to honor your father and mother.

Jeffcoat: Mhmm.

Tuchman: If someone didn’t honor their parents or committed adultery, would you serve them?

Jeffcoat: Yes.

Tuchman: Well, why would you serve them but not serve someone who is gay?

Jeffcoat: It’s just a different kind of sin to me and I just don’t believe in it.

So, when the conservative nuts tell you it has nothing to do with the gays and just their “deeply held religious beliefs,” remember that some sins are just “different.” #Hypocrisy

(source)

Sen. Tom Cotton: Hey Gays, At Least We Aren’t Hanging You Like In Iran

Sen. Tom Cotton really needs some media training.

Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer yesterday, Cotton said that critics of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, like the one his governor just declined to sign, should get some global “perspective” on gay rights.

Because, hey, it could be worse!

“I think it’s important we have a sense of perspective about our priorities,” Cotton said. “In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay. They’re currently imprisoning an American preacher for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in Iran. We should focus on the most important priorities that our country faces right now.”

Yeah. That makes me feel much better. You?

Indiana: New Language Could Specify RFRA Cannot Be Used As Defense Of Discrimination

The Indianapolis Star is reporting on new language that is being vetted to “clarify” the recently passed “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” which has caused turmoil in the state and across the country.

A copy of the language obtained by The Indianapolis Star was being presented to Gov. Mike Pence Wednesday morning. The measure would specify that the new religious freedom law cannot be used as a legal defense to discriminate against residents based on their sexual orientation.

The measure goes much further than a “preamble” that was proposed earlier in the week, explaining exactly what the RFRA law does. But it doesn’t go as far as establishing gays and lesbians as a protected class of citizens or repealing the law outright, both things that Republican leaders have said they could not support.

The clarification would say that the new “religious freedom” law does not authorize a provider – including businesses or individuals — to refuse to offer or provide its services, facilities, goods, or public accommodation to any member of the public based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Churches or other nonprofit religious organizations would be exempt from the language.

New York Governor Bans State-Funded Travel To Indiana In Response To #SB101

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo missed an executive order today banning all non-essential state-funded travel to Indiana after the Hoosier state passed legislation that opens the door to LGBT discrimination.

The order comes after five openly gay in the state Legislature (Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Daniel O’Donnell, Harry Bronson and Matthew Titone) wrote a letter to the governor today urging him to boycott Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” and ban state travel to the state.

From the official NY Governor’s website:

“Today, I direct all agencies, departments, boards and commissions to immediately review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the State of Indiana and to bar any such publicly funded travel that is not essential to the enforcement of state law or public health and safety. The ban on publicly funded travel shall take effect immediately.

“New York State has been, and will continue to be, a leader in ensuring that all LGBT persons enjoy full and equal civil rights. With this action, we stand by our LBGT family members, friends and colleagues to ensure that their rights are respected.”

GAP & LEVI STRAUS Issues Statement Against “License To Discriminate” Laws

The CEOs of GAP and LEVI STRAUS posted this joint statement last night on the GAP blog page opposing passage of legislation in states like Indiana and Arkansas that can legalize LGBT discrimination:

Today Gap Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co. are calling on retail and apparel companies, and other businesses, to join us in speaking out against legalized discrimination.

Both of our companies have a long history of standing up for equal rights and equal opportunity for all. We have consistently spoken out against discrimination and unequal treatment based on race, sex or sexual orientation.

As Indiana, Arkansas, and states around the country enact and consider legislation that perpetuates discrimination, we’re urging State Legislatures to stand up for equality by repealing and voting against these discriminatory laws.

These new laws and legislation, that allow people and businesses to deny service to people based on their sexual orientation, turn back the clock on equality and foster a culture of intolerance.

Discriminatory laws are unquestionably bad for business, but more importantly, they are fundamentally wrong. They must be stopped.

At Gap Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co., we are proud to say we are open to business for everyone.

Georgia: House Judiciary Committee Cancels Meeting For “Religious Liberty” Bill

A Georgia state House Judiciary committee meeting scheduled for Monday morning to further consider a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA) was abruptly cancelled last night.

With only two more days left in Georgia’s legislative session, it’s possible the cancellation was due, in part, to a disastrous appearance by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on ABC’s This Week.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The back-and-forth on the bill comes as Indiana deals with the backlash from adopting a similar law that has led to calls of boycotts and the potential loss of tens of millions of dollars in tourism and economic development. Indiana Gov. Mike Spence on Sunday told ABC News the law is not about discrimination but refused to say whether it would permit a business owner to refuse service to someone with whom they disagree.

In Georgia this past Thursday, in a surprise 9-8 vote, the Judiciary Committee voted to amend Senate Bill 129 to add language making clear the bill could not be used to discriminate against anyone already protected by any local, state or federal law. It was quickly tabled by supporters who said adding anti-discrimination language “gutted” the bill.

The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, who said at the time, “I take at face value the statements of the proponents that they do not intend discrimination with this bill but I also believe that if that is the case, we should state that expressly in the bill itself. That is what the amendment does.”

Perhaps Georgia doesn’t want to be the next Indiana.

RFRA legislation has become the new means to attack the LGBT community by conservatives who see the writing on the wall with the impending decision coming soon from SCOTUS on marriage equality.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Unable To Say Discriminating Against Gays Should Be Illegal

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence made a disasterous appearance on ABC News’ This Week with George Stephanopoulos to “clarify” his state’s new bill which has been called a “license to discriminate” against LGBT folks.

It’s almost painful to watch as George repeatedly asks for a yes or no answer to the question: does this new law make it legal for a florist to refuse to serve a gay couple? At least three times, Pence pivoted away from the question and refused to address it.

George asked if adding LGBT folks to the state’s civil rights protected classes might be an avenue the state could take to “prove” the law isn’t about discriminating against gays? Pence said that wasn’t on his agenda.

Finally, at the 9:52 mark, George asks flat-out (easy answer here, kids): “Governor, do you think it should be legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians in Indiana?”

Pence takes a long pause – that was where he should have said “No, of course not!” – and pivoted away from the question one last time.

Pence simply couldn’t bring himself to answer the question. Over and over and over again.

This appearance didn’t help his cause in any way. Watch the supercut of his appearance showing the 8 times he refused to say whether the law discriminated against gays and lesbians. You can watch the full interview here.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Will Seek To “Clarify” Newly Passed “License To Discriminate” Law

Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana

After a week of scorching backlash over the passage of Indiana’s “license to discriminate” law – SB101 – Gov Mike Pence has announced he intends to file new legislation to “clarify” the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Pence says he didn’t anticipate the “hostility” that has been leveled at the state over the anti-gay legislation. He declined to provide details about the upcoming “clarification” but said that making LGBT Indiana residents a protected legal class is “not on my agenda.”

Pence said repeatedly that the intense blowback against the new law is the result of a “misunderstanding driven by misinformation,” and disputes the law allows state-sanctioned anti-LGBT discrimination.

Freedom Indiana finds Pence’s response a bit on the disingenuous side, as campaign manager Katie Blair issued the following statement:

“You can’t ‘clarify’ discrimination. Indiana now has billions of dollars and thousands of jobs on the line, all because the Governor wouldn’t stop this dangerous bill. He has a second chance to save our reputation for Hoosier hospitality, but he has to stand up and protect LGBT Hoosiers.

“Discrimination is not a core Hoosier value, and we can’t afford to let our state continue to suffer. Please, Governor, listen to the voices of common sense and reason trying to get through to you. Fix the bill to protect all Hoosiers, and make it clear our state is open for business again.”

HRC’s Chad Griffin chimed in via Twitter:

And Lambda Legal offered this bit of free advice: