- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 29, 2016

The same people who want to crack down on Christian bakers who decline to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies are defending the conscience rights of Radio City Rockettes dancers who object to performing at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration.

The sudden about-face has conservatives accusing liberals of trying to have their cake and eat it too.

Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture at the Media Research Center, said progressives stand up for freedom of conscience only when it’s a progressive conscience on the line.

“It’s ridiculously hypocritical,” Mr. Gainor said. “They think a photographer who would be forced to attend a gay wedding can be forced to participate in that ceremony, but they don’t think a Rockette — who’s not even a sole business owner but is actually an employee — can’t be forced to attend an event. Talk about ridiculous.”

The Rockettes sparked a social media maelstrom last week when one dancer took to Instagram to express her displeasure at the prospect of performing for Mr. Trump, whom she opposed in the general election.

“Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed,” the dancer said in the now-deleted post. “The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything we’re against is appalling.”

Although the dancers’ union initially said full-time dancers were contractually obligated to perform at the Jan. 20 ceremony, they later reached an agreement with Madison Square Garden Co., which manages the famous dance troupe, to make participation voluntary.

“For a Rockette to be considered for an event, they must voluntarily sign up and are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural,” the company said in a statement. “It is always their choice.”

Madison Square Garden also said more Rockettes had volunteered to perform at the inauguration than spots available.

But when the fate of anti-Trump Rockettes briefly hung in the balance, those who have implored the government to punish Christian bakers, photographers and florists were among the first to come to the dancers’ defense.

George Takei, an outspoken proponent of gay rights who says Christian vendors should be forced to assist with same-sex weddings, wrote in a tweet that the Rockettes had been “Forced to go along with something horrible they didn’t choose.”

“I would love to see headliner performers turn out for an anti-inauguration concert,” he said in a separate tweet. “Let Trump find no support from artists.”

Paul Feig, who directed the 2016 all-female reboot of “Ghostbusters,” said, “No one should be forced to do anything against their will, not women or men, whether performers or not.”

The Rockettes are not the only artists using their conscience rights ahead of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Singers Andrea Bocelli, David Foster and Elton John have declined to perform at the swearing-in ceremony; several fashion designers, including Sophie Theallet and Andre Leon Talley, have refused to dress future first lady Melania Trump; and TV food critic Anthony Bourdain has vowed not to eat at any restaurant housed at Trump Tower.

Writing in Bustle, Cate Carrejo said the government should force Christians to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies but the Rockettes should not be obligated to perform at the inauguration “because one is discriminatory and the other isn’t.”

“When a same-sex couple walks into a bakery and asks for a wedding cake, the store owner doesn’t know anything about them except that they are in a same-sex relationship,” Ms. Carrejo wrote. “Thereby, refusing to serve them is discrimination, because the basis of their being treated differently than any other customer is just their belonging to a specific group of people.”

Pointing to the case of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, an Oregon bakery that was fined $135,000 and forced to close for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, Mr. Gainor said Christian bakers are happy to serve gay people.

“And that’s different — it’s a creative labor,” Mr. Gainor said. “If you wanted something that was in the shop, help yourself, happy to provide it. But if you want me to be involved in your wedding, I can’t do that. It’s a very clear line.”

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