Denying Gay Couples Art

marcie-douglass-204244.jpg

Cathy Miller of Tastries bakery in Bakersfield, CA can refuse to sell to anyone who displeases her, according to the California Superior Court, because it's "art," and that makes it free speech.

According to this Feb. 7 Washington Post article, Judge David R. Lampe opined that “Miller is a practicing Christian and considers herself a woman of deep faith.”

If Miller's faith is so strong, it should support her through this perceived tribulation. I refer her to Jesus' response to the Pharisees when they challenged him on the very subject of sacred vs. secular:

“Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22:21

Miller evidently claims to have faith in her God. But if that faith doesn't outweigh this commercial transaction, it is paltry indeed. And she shouldn't look to the courts to strengthen it; she should look to her God.

And as for artistic expression, who defines that? The courts? If so, let them consider these cases:

  • If a homophobic bigot wants to buy my books (which I consider art and definitely free speech) just to burn them, I have no legal recourse; nor should I.
  • If a surgeon considers her work to be art, she might refuse to operate on someone for reasons that have nothing to do with her profession.
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 12.19.55 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 12.20.06 PM.png

Judge Lampe further asserts that if the gay couple had chosen a cake already completed, Miller would have been legally obligated to sell it to them; but because in this case Miller would have had to create a custom cake, it crossed into the area of art and free speech.

I'm going to turn Judge Lampe on his head for a second. We have two cakes: one Miller created based on her own input alone (that is, not custom); another Miller created with input from a customer. Wouldn't the former be a truer expression of Miller's art?

Having the court determine what is art is not radically different from trying to legislate morality. There are assumptions we can make about what most people want supported by law: protection from murder, from material or intellectual theft, from violence, from fraud, from unfair business practices.

But we must be very, very careful when we venture into areas such as religion and morality. Quoting the Post article, "She believes that same sex unions 'violate a Biblical command that marriage is only between a man and a woman.'" Fine; but when her belief bumps into another's legal and civil rights, which should preside? I'm going to say the latter.

I saw an interview in 2015 (if memory serves) about marriage equality in which a "man on the street" expressed his belief this way: "It's like you're telling me that if I think marriage is something special between a man and a woman, you're calling me a bigot!"

Abominable sentence structure aside, no one needs to call this man a bigot. He's just done it himself. Bigotry is the reserving of a right or privilege for a select group of individuals, to the exclusion of all others, based on the "belief" of that select group. We need go no further back in history than the Black Civil Rights movement in the U.S. to see what this looks like. And it demonstrates how well bigotry works: It doesn't.

Cathy Miller and Judge Lampe would codify bigotry. The Post article says this case is likely to be appealed, and I hope that happens. Meanwhile I appeal to Miller's God to soften her heart, strengthen her faith, and encourage her to go on about her business. Literally.

hands-heart framed.jpg

Are you out of your mind? It's all about love!

There is a delightful podcast called WROTE, hosted by two great guys who write—and support writers of—LGBTQ literature. And they interviewed me!

The episode, "Are you out of your mind? It's all about love," was great fun to record. I just hope I don't sound as cray-cray to everyone else as I sound to myself. In my defense, Vance Bastian and S.A. Collins are very good at getting people to reveal their inner truths.

A.C.L.U. vs. the Spirit of the Law

The ACLU needs to get better at understanding law—not just the letter. It needs to understand the spirit.

As ex-ACLU board member Waldo Jaquith puts it: What’s legal and what’s right are sometimes different. 

Facebook Says: No Christian Cross Emoji

On June 9, in honor of Pride Month and not long after the death of the man who created the original LGBTQ Rainbow Flag (Gilbert Baker), Facebook introduced a rainbow flag emoji, available alongside the usual icons that appear for responses to posts and messages. I used it many times, myself. Before the month was out, a Facebook user began a movement to add another emoji to the list: a Christian cross.

Throwing Shade on the Women's Marches?

Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, likes to teach dog owners that preventing their dogs from focusing on trouble (a letter carrier, another dog, a trash truck) is to give her a sudden, physical distraction as soon as that focus seems likely. This might be a gentle push on her backside, or it might be a sharp tug-and-release on her leash.

After reading the January 24 New York Times article by Jenna Wortham, I think what I got was a less-than-gentle push on my backside. For sure, the tone of this article distracted me from the enthusiasm I have felt since leaving the Boston Women’s March.

This is war.

For over a decade, I've written novels about gay teens. I'm a cisgender, straight advocate, and I write these stories because I hate injustice, I hate fear-driven paranoia, and I'm distressed at the vulnerability of LGBTQ teens.

When I began writing, I was certain that I would not see marriage equality in my lifetime. I knew very little of the hell that trans individuals go through. I knew nothing at all about what intersex means.

And since I began writing, I have celebrated win after win after win for LGBTQ people.

Then came Trump.

Electoral College Needs an Appendectomy

Every day since the November 8, 2016 election, we’ve seen the number of citizens who cast their presidential vote for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump increase. That lead is now roughly TWO AND A HALF MILLION VOTES.

Dear Governor McCrory...

I know you're suffering. And I have some information that I hope will help you and your family out of your current troubles.

As an advocate for personal truth, and in particular an advocate for the rights of LGBTQ citizens, I have read with interest a number of articles about you. In them, you describe the difficulties you and your wife have had to face as a result of North Carolina's HB2, the law you signed that requires people to use public facilities according to the gender on their birth certificates and limits the civil rights of LGBTQ people in general.

Black and White

It’s the end of a week full of horrible events.

The shooting death of African American Alton Sterling by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana… The shooting death of African American Philando Castile by police officers in Falcon Heights, Minnesota… The shooting deaths of five white police officers by a single African American in Dallas, Texas, apparently as retribution for the week’s two previous events and for so many other shootings of African American men by police….

Orlando: Phoenix Rising

From the ashes of destruction, so the legend goes, rises the Phoenix, renewed and reborn. The horrible, burning agony—physical and emotional—of the tragedy in Orlando will give rise to a glorious spirit. We can see it appearing already.

Since the Stonewall riots of 1969, the spirit within LGBTQ people has been glowing brighter and stronger every year. The last few years have been the most remarkable yet, because the spirit has been spreading to people who are becoming advocates.

The chemistry of hatred

It’s a simple chemical reaction: Apply fear to ignorance and you get hatred. We’re seeing far, far too much of it lately.

Here in Massachusetts, the state legislature has been debating whether to pass a bill granting citizens the right to enter public bathrooms according to their true gender. I recently heard one misguided legislator insist that if the bill passed, women and girls would no longer be protected against assault. I understand what this guy and many other people who’ve said similar things are afraid of. What I think we need to get at is why they’re afraid.

Robin Reardon: Reading Aloud

When I have a chance to do a reading or a book signing event, I love connecting with readers. And after the events, they often ask me whether I’ve made recordings of the excerpts I read to them.

Well, now I have. There’s a new page on my website dedicated to excerpts I’ve recorded from my books. So far there are recordings from four books. If this feature is popular, I’d love to do more. This page is accessible from the Items of Interest, which you’ll see if you scroll down on my home page.

So… give it a try? And do let me know what you think, good or bad. Thanks!

Mistaken Identity?

Hello, little girl. My name is… well, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how much trouble I'm planning to go to just to get to a place where I can attack you. Let me tell you all about it.

 

See, I grew up twisted. Blame it on abuse, blame it on a mother who was domineering, blame it on whatever you like. The thing is, I hate females. And something inside me tells me I’ll feel better if I beat you up, rape you, maybe even kill you. And I just came up with the best friggin' idea for how to get you alone so I can do horrible things to you. BATHROOMS!

Fear the Gay!

Although the discriminatory laws passed in recent days in North Carolina and Mississippi (with a close call in Georgia) claim to be about religious freedom, there is no question that the primary target is members of the LGBTQ community.

 

These three laws have subtle differences; NC's law seems to focus sharply on transgender individuals and bathroom usage; GA's law would have focused largely on marriage; and MI's law shoots squarely at the heads of all LGBT individuals. But they, and all recent "religious protection" laws passed in the last several months (such as Indiana, Arkansas, the list goes on), have the same goal: Protect good Christians from ... from what, exactly?