The 5th Circuit Presents: Why We Need Government Out of Our Social Dealings
Jaxson Heyrend-Social Policy Contributor
Opinion-- The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently handed down a ruling in favor of the Mississippi bill to allow private business owners to deny service to members of the LGBT+ community on the grounds of religious convictions, according to the Associated Press. The bill was originally blocked by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves. This is a major victory in the fight to protect religious liberties and the First Amendment. However, opponents of Mississippi House Bill 1523 cry foul, as it is accused of allowing discrimination of the LGBT community. This is simply not the case, especially when it comes to the constitutionality of the bill..
House Bill 1523 allows private businesses and government employees in the state of Mississippi to deny any service through religious conviction. Robert Mcduff, who represents the plaintiff, takes a different view: “people should not have to live through discrimination in order to challenge this obviously unconstitutional bill. ”His team’s lack of evidence is one of the main reasons that the court’s ruling went in favor of the state. McDuff's colleague, Robert Kaplan, also explained that
The state communicated a message loudly and clearly with the passage of HB 1523: only certain anti-LGBT beliefs will get the protection and endorsement of the state...under the logic of this opinion, it would be constitutional for the state of Mississippi to pass a law establishing Southern Baptist as the official state religion.
However, there is no mention of any particular religion in this bill. The ruling comes down as the panel on the Fifth Circuit stated that the plaintiffs provided no specific evidence as to why this bill would be harmful. With no clear plaintiff present to testify, the court can allow Mississippi to put this bill into law but must wait for the plaintiffs to appeal. Those who support the bill, including Governor Phil Bryant (R-MS), have stated that “as I have said all along, the legislation is not meant to discriminate against anyone, but simply prevents government interference with the constitutional right to exercise sincerely held religious beliefs.” This comes at a time in which the First Amendment is under constant attack by the judicial oligarchy.
This issue has been a common theme in states with high populations of evangelicals, especially in many southern states. May we be reminded of the event back of the “Indiana Cake Debacle” of 2014. According to the Indianapolis Star which first reported on the issue, Randy Mcgath received a wedding cake order from Shane Laney and Michael Stephens. Mcgath, a member of the local Baptist church, cited his religious conviction as the reason why he could not make them a wedding cake. Friends of Laney and Stephens turned to Facebook to share their displeasure at the “111 Cakery.” Soon after, Mcgath took to Facebook via his bakery’s page saying:
As artists we must find the inspiration to create something special for our clients. When asked to do a cake for an occasion or with a theme (alcohol explicit in nature) that is in opposition to our faith, that inspiration is not found. We feel that it is important for a paying customer to know when this is the case. Why would you want a cake that is less [than] inspired for your special event.
His religious conviction is similar to asking an Orthodox Jew not to eat kosher hot dogs .Sometimes a person’s religious beliefs may affect how someone does something. That does not mean they are trying to offend anyone.
My take on this is simple: let’s take the government out of our personal dealings, and let consumers decide. I was able to google bakeries in Indianapolis, and came up with over 50 choices. The beauty of the country we live in is that we have the choice of where we believe our needs and desires will be appropriately served. Government should not have any control over whether or not Mcgath bakes a cake.
As for the situation of government employees, let us remember their duties. Let’s take for example a clerk at a county courthouse. We will say this clerk has high moral standards in their place of worship, whether it be Jewish, Islamic, Christian, etc. If this person cannot license a couple’s marriage, why is that person working as a clerk, when they know it is their job to execute the responsibilities of that position? If a person can not do their job for everyone, they should not be working in that position. Government employees must serve all the people influenced by the government. Another option is to get government out of marriage entirely, and allowing civil unions at the expense of those who wish to marry, not through the excessive and pointless means of local governments.
The law in Mississippi is constitutional, as it cites no specific religion, but allows for the freedom to practice it. However, I believe the Mississippi state legislature should have let this be resolved by the citizens of Mississippi. The plaintiffs are not wrong that this could potentially be used as grounds for people to be offended, but it is up to Mississippi to decide how they interpret the First Amendment . We should keep in mind that members of the LGBT+ community have the right to take their business elsewhere, as they are not forced to stay within the borders of their neighborhoods, cities, and the State of Mississippi.
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