Sometimes, you listen to a story on the radio and you keep thinking, “I just know they are about to have someone defend the LGBT community from these charges.” But, unfortunately, you often wait and wait and wait.
The most recent example was in a story on National Public Radio on the supposed war on religion. It wasn’t the most balanced piece in the world to begin with, with lots of time given to those who believe there is a war being waged on religious liberty and only a single defender. I’d call it “balancedish.”
The odder thing was a fairly full-throated suggestion that the LGBT community and activists were waging war on religious liberty and believer but only an incredibly tepid rebuttal and not a single LGBT voice responding to the allegation. The chief problem was that the allegedly neutral expert was the one who threw the hand grenade and no one was allowed to challenge it. Here’s the section from the text of the story:
Douglas Laycock, a constitutional lawyer who argues cases on behalf of religious groups, said he doesn’t think the administration is hostile to religion. He says the administration takes the issues case by case.
“I think they’ve aggressively protected religious liberty in some issues and failed to protect it in other issues,” Laycock says. “But they’re not hostile. The hostility is in parts of the political culture — particularly in the gay rights movement and the pro-choice movement.”
It’s a larger culture war, he says — a fight that religious conservatives are worried about losing, particularly over gay rights. More and more people favor civil unions or marriage for gay couples, and more states are recognizing them.
This new reality troubles Mathew Staver, founder of the conservative law group, Liberty Counsel.
“I believe the greatest threat to religious liberty is the clash between religious liberty and LGBT rights,” he says.
Staver says as rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people make gains, religious conservatives are having to set aside their convictions. A Christian counselor was penalized for refusing to advise gay couples. A court clerk in New York was told to issue same-sex marriage licenses, despite religious reservations. A wedding photographer was sued for refusing to shoot a same-sex wedding. Staver says these people aren’t trying to impose their religious views on others.
“What people of faith don’t want to do, however, is be forced to participate in something that literally cuts to the very core of their belief.”
Boston says of course religious believers want to impose their views on the world — witness the fight against same-sex marriage. But he says under the law, people can’t discriminate based on their religious beliefs, any more than a restaurant owner can cite the Bible in refusing to serve black customers. He says the solution is simple.
To recap, the neutral expert tosses the grenade that the LGBT community is “hostile” to religion and then the spokesman from Liberty Counsel is given even more time to lay out a parade of horribles focused on LGBT issues and ro support Laycock’s views. In response, we get a single soundclip from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
Where are the LGBT voices responding to the charge? Why is there a lengthy discussion of LGBT rights and alleged hostility without a single response from someone representing LGBT causes and interests? Now imagine a story alleging religious conservatives or religious groups are hostile to gays without a single representative of those groups being offered the chance for a rebuttal. It would never happen (and shouldn’t).
If you are going to talk about LGBT people being “hostile” to something, it would be nice to let an actual LGBT-identified person challenge the charge.