Haters Gonna Hate (2016 Ballot Edition)

UPDATE: ThinkProgress reports, “traditional marriage” advocates may have gotten out a little over their proverbial skis this time:

A proposed amendment to the Colorado constitution appears designed to eliminate same-sex marriages. Yet it is so broadly drafted that it would most likely eliminate marriage entirely in the state of Colorado.

The proposed amendment, which would be subject to a ballot initiative if its supporters collect enough signatures, provides that “marriage is recognized as a form of religious expression of the people of Colorado that shall not be abridged through the state prescribing or recognizing any law that implicitly or explicitly defines a marriage in opposition or agreement with any particular religious belief.” It’s the last part of this text — the reference to “any particular religious belief” — that would prevent marriages from taking place in Colorado. [Pols emphasis]

Mr. Hater, call your office.


Lord have mercy on our souls.

Two men on a cake! Lord have mercy.

As the Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports:

A proposed ballot initiative filed Thursday would redefine same-sex marriages in Colorado as civil unions. A second initiative would allow wedding-related businesses opposed to gay marriage to hire a contractor to serve the couples…

Dave Montez, the executive director of One Colorado, the state’s largest advocacy group for gay rights, said the initiatives are an attempt to undo the Supreme Court decision.

“This initiative is an unnecessary attempt to radically redefine all marriages in Colorado in order to undermine the Supreme Court’s recent decision,” he said. “Even before last week’s Supreme Court decision, the 37 states that already had marriage equality had proven that when loving, committed, gay couples share in the freedom to marry, families are helped and no one is hurt.”

The first of these two anti-LGBT ballot initiatives seems to have little chance of success. Redefining existing same-sex marriages after they have been validated by the U.S. Supreme Court seems like an incredibly gratuitous insult, not to mention pointless in the face of the court’s ruling that these are marriages like anybody else’s marriage. This initiative is in exercise in exactly the kind of discriminatory logic the Obergefell v. Hodges decision struck down–that there is a difference between rights two same-sex persons have versus heterosexual couples.

As for the second initiative, we expect to see many such attempts to chip away at newly-won rights for LGBT citizens in the coming months as the battle shifts to public accommodation instead of basic legal guarantees. Without protections against discrimination when doing business or obtaining publicly available goods and services, equality doesn’t really mean that much. At the same time, this is a more nuanced argument to make with voters who aren’t familiar with the issue.

Bottom line: the viewpoint of the state’s electorate has changed dramatically since 2006, when an anti-LGBT statewide measure passed and even modest civil unions failed at the polls. The public overwhelmingly supports the Supreme Court decision upholding marriage equality today, where they didn’t ten years ago.

So no, we don’t think LGBT rights supporters should be worried about these proposals. In fact, much like Republicans have painfully learned with the “Personhood” abortion bans over the years, the biggest worry could be blowback against their proponents.

34 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. vanbarbee says:

    Pardon but the tiny moderate in me is showing. The second initiative (contractor) seems reasonable enough, though I'm not sure why a couple would use a business entity opposed to them in the first place, and it would seem like the sort of thing that would be legal prior to the initiative…

    I'm not seeing how that particular setup would 'chip away' at a gay couple's rights though I'd be inclined to think it to be unnecessary in legal terms. 

    • So long as it's clear that they'll be hiring a contractor and not doing the work personally, I don't see how the situation covered by the second initiative isn't already legal.

      • BlueCat says:

        So if you have a restaurant and religious conviction that whites and blacks shouldn't mix it's OK to refuse to serve them as long as you send them to a subcontractor who will? I don't think so. 

        • By sending them elsewhere you're no longer contracting – different location altogether. Further, follow what I wrote below…

          If an offending patron walks in to a fancy restaurant, is seated but told they won't be served by the chef based on some religious conviction, but that they'd hire a hot dog vendor to cook for them instead, then that's not an equal contract offer – it's not acceptable under all but the latest extreme RFRA laws (which are undoubtedly unconstitutional).

          • BlueCat says:

            So what if the contractor serves black people in a designated area on the premises? We can quibble over details but the doesn't change the fact that these contracting options are nothing but discrimination. If your religion prevents you from serving all of the public, find a way of making a living that doesn't involve serving the public.

            No one should be even slightly inconvenienced, much less publicly embarrassed by being told essentially that they don't deserve to be treated like acceptable customers, that they require special handling because there is something inherently offensive about them, when they seek to use a publicly offered business or product.

            If your religious beliefs won't allow you to serve the public without discrimination then you need to find a line of work that doesn't involve serving the public. Period. None of these contracting options for public businesses should be allowed to stand. Period. No exceptions. Period. There are plenty of other ways to make a living.

    • FrankUnderwood says:

      The question about the contractors is where is the cutoff point.

      Nobody can force a member of the clergy of any religion to perform an act which runs counter to his or her theological beliefs. That's why Roman Catholic priests do not – and are not expected to – offficiate at second marriages of divorced Catholics (with the exception of one of Newt Gingrich's subsequent marriages but he had to pay for annulment to do that). 

      The problem is what happens when you have a commercial enterprise (be it Hobby Lobby or a mom and pop-owned business) claiming an exemption from anti-discrimination laws because of their deeply held – and perhaps sincerely held – beliefs that something is morally wrong.

      Bob Jones University did that up until the early 1980's – they banned inter-racially because they believed it to be morally wrong – and no less a radical civil rights advocate than the Reagan administration yanked their tax-exempt status from them.

      • But that never involved contracting – they just refused to do it. Contracting it out still gets the job done (a la having another pharmacist fill a prescription). But it can't be done covertly – the original contract needs to put that forward in an obvious way. I wouldn't want my wedding photographer contracting out if I went to the photographer knowing the quality of their work.

        • BlueCat says:

          The pharmacist thing is of no use to low income women with no cars in small towns where the next pharmacist might be over 60 miles away. If a person can't dispense all legal drugs and fill all legal prescriptions because of private religious convictions that person also needs to find another line of work. Filling legally obtained prescriptions is the job. Religious exemptions for non-religious enterprises are discriminatory. Always. No exceptions.

          • If two pharmacists are working in the same facility and one of them is okay with prescribing something while the other isn't, then the customer is not harmed by one of them doing the job rather than the other one.

            If an "RFRA" pharmacist sends someone to an inconvenient second pharmacy, or to another pharmacy located nearby but which doesn't treat their customers with the same benefits, then I agree – it's discriminatory.

            Similarly, if the "RFRA" pharmacist feels obliged to inject their religion into their non-service, then again it's discriminatory.

            And yes – I agree that, in theory, in order to work any job you should be able to do that job with no exceptions. But that doesn't hold in any facet of our employment system for many different reasons. An Orthodox Jew should no more be forced to work (or perform work like driving) on a Friday night after sunset than a Christian Scientist pharmacist should be forced to dispense medications that are against her religion, or that a man paralyzed from the waist down be forced to stand at a workbench. That is to say: if there's no way for you to do the job effectively within your limits, then the job isn't for you; if your limitations can be accommodated without major pain to the employer, then we should be understanding of those limitations.

            • BlueCat says:

              If a job requires working Friday nights or Saturday an orthodox Jew isn't going to take that job. If you're an orthodox Jew you aren't going to be able to, for instance, play in the NBA. You're not going to able to sign with a team and be excused from all Jewish Sabbath games. Your inability to play during those times disqualifies you.

              Filling legally obtained prescriptions is a major part of a pharmacists job. An inability to do so should similarly disqualify you. If my doctor prescribes a perfectly legal drug for me it's none of a pharmacist’s business to pass judgement on my moral values and it certainly isn't his place to embarrass me in pubic as if I'm wearing a scarlet A.  I won't serve you but this other guy will. Screw that. If you can't do the job without inconveniencing your customers with your personal religious judgement, you don't qualify to do the job.

            • DaftPunk says:

              Should pro-life obstetricians be required to perform abortions?

              Can the law require you to perform venal sins but not mortal ones?


              • mamajama55 says:

                If it's to save the woman's life or health, or the fetus is not viable, yes. Goes with the job. Hippocratic oath and all that. No risk to mom's life or health, apparently not. At least OBs all over the country are saying, "Not this Dr."

                Venal, mortal, whaaa? No clue. I see sin differently.

                But Bluecat is right. When you take a job, you take on all the responsibilities of that job. When you advertise that you perform a service,you perform that service, unless you say that you're incapable or unqualified to do so.  And if you can't, then you take yourself out of the running.

                • DaftPunk says:

                  Life-saving is not the crux of the point, and any competent, trained physician should be morally obligated to do so.  

                  Elective abortions are part of OB/GYN.  Many providers choose not to offer them out of religious conviction. Should they be told to suck eggs and get on with the killing?

                  Is there a difference in assisting someone in sin (paying for the insurance that allows them to use birth control, making a cake that they use at their wedding,) and performing the sin themselves?

                  • BlueCat says:

                    Doctors can specialize in whatever they want.  It's an apples and oranges comparison. I'm sure not all brain surgeons perform every single procedure to do with the brain. It's not providing a public retail service like filling prescriptions, selling floral arrangements or shoes.

                  • Davie says:

                    Practically speaking, an OB/GYN that objected on moral or religious grounds to performing an abortion has a very easy alternative, that is referring the patient to a qualified doctor who would do the elective procedure. No laws broken there.

                    Besides, what woman would put themselves at risk in the hands of a doctor that was being forced to do the procedure?

                    Now if that doctor worked in an abortion clinic…

  2. davebarnes says:

    Can the proponents of these so called religious freedom laws tell us how these laws would be different from not serving blacks at a lunch counter? Or prohibiting Jews from living in the Belcaro neighborhood of Denver? Will a cake baker be allowed to refuse to add a topper with a heterosexual couple of different colors?

    • BlueCat says:

      Exactly. A catering company isn't a religious institution. If it's allowed to refuse gay couples based on religious beliefs, why not refuse mixed race couples on the same grounds just as Bob Jones University did with respect to inter-racial dating? Why not refuse mixed religion couples on the same grounds? Why not refuse anyone who isn't having a religious ceremony or clergy officiating at their wedding?  

      If you're in a business open to the public you have to be willing to serve the public. if you aren't prepared to do that you need to find another way to make a living. It isn't any of your business to even ask what a client's sexual orientation is.

      When a heterosexual couple contracts with a catering company for their wedding, they are not asked about their morals, their religious views, whether they plan to procreate, whether they plan to have an open marriage, with what beliefs they intend to raise their children. If these people were really objecting on religious grounds they'd be grilling all of their prospective clients on these questions to avoid catering a wedding not in compliance with their beliefs. They don't.

      What they want is to be allowed to discriminate against same sex couples by refusing them on religious grounds while they make no similar demands on heterosexual couples to conform to any religious standards. 

      The first proposal is obviously ludicrous in light of the Supreme Court ruling. Never mind all marriages are civil unions in the first place because that's what all legal marriage really is in this country. The only requirements for establishing the civil unions we call marriages are secular requirements, not religious ones. If every clergy member and religious institution disappeared tomorrow that would have no effect whatsoever on anyone's ability to get married.

    • I don't read the initiative as allowing people to actively refuse service – only to allow businesses to subcontract. Of course, there are "separate but (not) equal" situations abounding, and a whole host of other issues obviously not thought out by the dim bulb who authored these proposals.

      How do you subcontract a wedding or reception location? If you're subcontracting, you're a responsible party – how do you ensure the quality of your service (subcontracted out) while not "participating" in the wedding? Alternatively, how do you avoid being the one on the losing end of the lawsuit if your contractor doesn't meet your normal standards because you didn't "participate"? What if your time schedule says "available" but there's no contractor available? Are you allowed to state "I'm sorry, but my religion prevents me from serving you", thus openly shaming the wedding couple (or yourself, depending on the couple's mental stability)?

  3. Denver Yankee says:

    This was my reaction when I first read the language, but disregarded it because surely the drafters couldn’t be that stupid.  Wrong again.

    Hastily Written Ballot Initiative, Seeking To Ban Same-Sex Marriage, Would Make All Marriage Illegal.


    • mamajama55 says:

      Those darn free-lovin' hippies. What will they think of next?

    • ajb says:

      Hoo boy! Let's hope this makes it to the ballot. Can you imagine the entertainment value of watching conservatives twist themselves into knots trying to oppose this without throwing their supporters under the bus? 

      • BlueCat says:

        I don't understand on what grounds they think they're going to be able to redefine marriage as a "religious expression" after a couple hundred plus years of marriage being a civil matter throughout the United States and with the government barred from involving itself in religious matters, for or against. People have been getting married in civil ceremonies in court houses for all this time. 

        If I'm reading it right (not at all sure about that because the wording makes no sense to me) marriage can't  be counter to religious beliefs (whose?) and can't conform to "particular" religious beliefs (again, whose?)? Huh? Sounds like you can't have anything that's not chocolate and you can't have chocolate. 

    • bullshit! says:

      Comedy. Go hataz!

    • I think that means the state can only recognize civil unions, and marriage would then be reserved to religious types. (I.e. it may be a “feature” and not a bug.)

      That could really screw things up for every currently legally married couple in the state, since most other states and the Federal Government don't recognize the term "civil union", nor do they recognize the authority of any religion to civilly recognize a marriage.

  4. notaskinnycook says:

    Next question: If the contractor fails to perform, whom does one sue? The contractor or the firm one engaged?

  5. notaskinnycook says:

    Next question: If the contractor fails to perform, against whom does one bring suit? The contractor or the firm one engaged?

    • Normally, you bring suit against the original business; they are then responsible for taking the contractor to task by hauling them in to court. But I'm sure legal contracts can be drawn in such a way as to minimize that… Say by calling yourself a "referral service" in the contract. Of course, that means you're not really contracting…

      The second problem, as I wrote above: since you didn't "participate" in the wedding due to your beliefs, you didn't oversee your contractor. That leaves you with more liability. If you do oversee, then you can't really claim religious exemptions…

    • notaskinnycook says:

      Oops! Sorry about the duplicate comment. The site was very slow to post yesterday.

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