Most of the news stories on Senate Bill 180 were pretty good, but the Herald-Leader story by John Cheves could have been written by the Fairness Allliance, whose commitment to truth and accuracy on its pet issues is, shall we say, tenuous:
A Senate committee approved two “religious liberty” bills Thursday, one to legally protect businesses that don’t want to serve gay, lesbian or transgender customers because of the owners’ religious objections, and the other to protect religious expression in public schools.
The first measure, Senate Bill 180, would prohibit the government from compelling services or actions from anyone if doing so conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs. The bill expands the state’s 2013 Religious Freedom Restoration Act to clarify that businesses could not be punished in such cases for violating local ordinances that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Um, hold on there, Pardner.
Under this description, a reader could infer that someone coming into a restaurant could be denied service by a waiter because he was gay. This is, of course, part of the Fairness Alliance's propaganda. The problem is that it isn't true.
The bill only those cases in which, because of the nature of the service, the service provider is essentially being asked to participate or endorse the activity for which the service is being requested. It does not apply to the vast majority of business situations. We're talking only about those cases like the Oregon baker and the New Mexico photographer who are essentially being asked to participate in an event to which they have religious objections. Not the waiter at Shoney's or the cashier at Wal-Mart.
A Jewish restaurant owner should be required to serve everyone, but he shouldn't be required to serve pork.
The fact that the Herald-Leader is willing to serve as the mouthpiece for the Fairness Alliance isn't all that surprising, of course. It sold its soul long ago. The problem is that newspapers that sell their souls start selling fewer papers, which is one reason why few people are crying many tears about the demise of liberal big city newspapers like the Herald-Leader.
Cheves, incidentally, is the same reporter who wrote about a couple of people at the rally for the Marriage Amendment in 2004 holding signs saying "God Hates Fags" and conveniently forgot to mention that the crowd shouted them down.