Respecting the rights of all often requires a delicate balance. Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona lost her balance last week and vetoed legislation that would have protected businessmen from being forced to compromise their religious beliefs.
The Arizona Legislature sent Mrs. Brewer an amendment to the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would have given business owners a defense against local and state action that would "burden the person's exercise of religion." Homosexual activists made the defeat of this measure their top priority, even though the words "gay" or "homosexual" do not appear anywhere in the legislation.
The governor's veto "enables the foes of faith to more easily suppress the freedom of the people of Arizona," argued Doug Napier, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom, based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The proposed law was not Christian-specific, as it was often portrayed in the media, and would have, for two examples, protected the right of a Muslim caterer to refuse to arrange a pig roast, or a Jewish photographer (or any other photographer of good will) to decline a commission to photograph a neo-Nazi ceremony.
In saner and less litigious times than these, there never would have been a lawsuit. Bakeries, photographers and florists serve homosexual customers every day. The market is there to serve.
Unless a customer walks in announcing his sexual proclivities, a shopkeeper wouldn't know who's gay, merely cheerful or just having a bad hair day. He knows that he hurts only himself when he turns away a customer.
A wedding cake announces its sexual proclivities only when the baker puts two men or two women on it, and this, to many, mocks authentic marriage. Or maybe putting four hairy legs on a wedding cake just offends a baker's art.
In neighboring New Mexico, a state court held that a photographer could not refuse to photograph a lesbian "commitment ceremony" just because it would violate his right to his religious belief that homosexual conduct is sinful and wrong.
The photographers, the court held, are "compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives." They "have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. ... It is the price of citizenship."
The two lesbians, like the two gay men in Arizona, were not really interested in cake or photographs, but in using the courts to make a political statement.
The lavender lobby has a winning streak in the courts, but what homosexuals covet most is not the tolerance of the larger society, but the approval of society, and particularly the approval of the people they despise most, men and women of faith.
They believe this approval can be compelled by the courts. Advocating tolerance, the gays are intolerant of all who disagree with them.
Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, a Republican who is known to disapprove of same-sex marriage, was dropped by her homosexual Santa Fe hairdresser.
He says that because of her views, he will no longer cut her hair. She is not likely to sue, because there are other hairdressers in Santa Fe. She can exercise common sense, and take her business elsewhere.