The Rolling Stone has come to the defense of a leading LGBT mega-donor who was quoted by the magazine as saying that his goal is to "punish the wicked" opponents of the LGBT agenda after conservative news outlets argued that Gill's quote shows that he is looking to punish Christians who advocate for conservative views on marriage.
As reported by The Christian Post last month, Rolling Stone published a profile piece on June 23 that highlighted the contributions that Tim Gill, a 63-year-old gay software entrepreneur who has quietly donated more of his own money to LGBT causes than anybody else.
The piece, written by author Andy Kroll, mentioned that since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide in 2015 by a Supreme Court ruling, Gill and his allies see the "new front" of the LGBT movement as being a "campaign that pits LGBTQ advocates against a religious right that responded to marriage equality by redoubling its efforts."
"The election of Donald Trump, who claims to support gay rights but stocked his administration with anti-LGBTQ extremists [a liberal way of referring to evangelical and social conservatives], has only emboldened those looking to erase the gains of the past decade," Kroll wrote, adding that "Gill refuses to go on the defense."
"We're going into the hardest states in the country," Kroll quoted Gill as saying. "We're going to punish the wicked."
Kroll's piece went on to explain how Gill and his organizations Gill Foundation and Gill Action Fund focused their efforts on Southern states. One Gill Foundation efforts was helping create a coalition of corporations who banded together to pressure Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to veto a religious freedom bill that would have provided statutory protections for conservative Christians and others who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings on the basis of religious beliefs.
Additionally, the piece explained that Gill was also heavily invested in the 2016 North Carolina gubernatorial election, which helped Democrat Roy Cooper defeat Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, the man who signed a 2016 law preventing the local governments from forcing businesses and other places of public accommodation from having to allow transgender individuals into bathrooms and changing areas consistent with their gender identity.
In response to the Rolling Stone piece, a number of media outlets observed that Gill's "punish the wicked" quote implies that he is looking to "punish" those who stand in the way of gay marriage and LGBT causes including Christian conservatives.
Last week, Kroll wrote a piece responding to claims by conservative media outlets like The Federalist and The Blaze that Gill aims "to punish Christians who don't want to participate in same-sex weddings."
"This is complete nonsense," Kroll argued in his response piece. "Not once in my profile does Gill talk about 'targeting' Christians. Not once does Gill so much as hint at singling out Christians or adherents of any other religion. Not once does the word 'Christian' appear."
While Kroll argues that the claims that Gill is looking to punish Christians who don't want to participate in same-sex weddings is nonsense, he points out that the "wicked" that Gill refers to is "anyone who stands in the way of progress on equal rights for LGBTQ people: politicians, activists, lawyers, some people of faith, and plenty more with no religious affiliation whatsoever."
Using Kroll's own definition of wicked, Federalist writer Bre Payton asserts that those who Gill seeks to punish are "indeed Christians, as well as everyone who agrees with them."
"Anyone who stands up for a Christian's right to live in accordance with his or her religious beliefs will also be targeted for harassment in public and the legal system," she wrote.
"In other words, 'the wicked' are people who introduced bills to offer legal recourse for people of faith at the state level after the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage must be legal in all 50 states," she continued. "They are the people who support and work to strengthen America's First Amendment protections of conscience for all people."
Although Kroll debates whether or not Gill is seeking to punish Christians who don't participate in same-sex weddings, Gill stands against the type of legislation that would provide Christians, Christian businesses owners and Christian institutions with religious exemptions to discrimination laws so that they are not forced to participate in a same-sex weddings against their religious beliefs.
Some conservative Christians have been punished by government for not participating in same-sex weddings.
Aaron and Melissa Klein, a Christian bakery couple in Oregon who were fined $135,000, simply for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Barronelle Stutzman, a Christian florist in Washington, has also been fined for refusing to provide floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding.
In his response piece, Kroll explained that Gill and his organizations team up with left-leaning faith leaders in efforts to support LGBT equality.
Kroll also tried to argue that Republican Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who voted the Pastor Protection Act in 2016, is the "best authority on the injustice of religious freedom restoration bills."
"A Republican, a deeply religious man, and a professed Christian, Deal vetoed a religious-freedom bill when it landed on his desk in the spring of 2016," Deal's veto statement is a stunning rebuke, and worth reading in its entirety. "I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone," he said, "to protect the faith-based community in Georgia of which my family and I are a part of for all of our lives." He went on, "Our people work side-by-side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way."