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Current Page: Politics | Monday, April 06, 2015
Rick Santorum: Should a Gay Print Shop Owner Be Forced to Make 'God Hates Fags' Signs for Westboro Baptist Church?

Rick Santorum: Should a Gay Print Shop Owner Be Forced to Make 'God Hates Fags' Signs for Westboro Baptist Church?

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor in Maryland, February 27, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

While appearing on CBS' "Face The Nation" Sunday, potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum weighed in on the highly-debated Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act and asserted that "tolerance is a two-way street" by making a comparison to a gay business forced to serve the controversial Westboro Baptist Church.

After Indiana passed and signed into law the first version of its RFRA act, media and corporate backlash pushed on lawmakers to go and "fix" the law so that it provides public accommodation protections based on sexual orientation.

Although many conservatives hailed the initial law as a win for religious freedom, because it provided courts with a balancing test for when government actions infringe upon someone's religious beliefs, an amendment was added to the legislation last week effectively eliminated such religious protections.

On Face The Nation, the former Pennsylvania Senator explained that although liberals and the LGBT community are quick to oppose religious freedom laws that give business owners the ability to decline to participate in activities that go against their religious beliefs, laws forcing businesses to provide services or goods to events that go against their deeply-held beliefs can also have a negative impact on gay business owners.

To hammer home his point, Santorum used an analogy to the notoriously controversial Westboro Baptist Church, which is known to have previously protested gay soldiers' funerals with signs that say "God Hates Fags."

"It's a matter of accommodation. Tolerance is a two-way street. If you are a print shop and you are a gay man, should you be forced to print 'God Hates Fags' for the Westboro Baptist Church because they hold those signs up?" Santorum asked. "Should you be forced to do [that]? Should the government force you to do that? That is what these cases are all about. They are about the government coming in and saying that 'No, we are going to make you do this.'

"This is why I think we just need some space to say, 'Let's have tolerance be a two-way street,'" Santorum added.

Although Santorum's comparison of Westboro Baptist Church might seem original, a similar analogy to Westboro Baptist Church was used by Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Joe La Rue in an interview with The Christian Post in February, 2014.

In the interview, La Rue provided a hypothetical scenario where Westboro protestors have just finished up protesting at a soldier's funeral and want to order a cake that has the words "God Hates Fags," written in icing to celebrate. La Rue asserted that business owners should have the ability to use discretion when dealing with situations like that.

"If I were that baker, I would want to be able to refuse to bake that cake because that actually violates my religious belief about God," La Rue explained. "I don't think that God hates people that are disobedient to Him. I think that's why Jesus died for us, because God loves people who disobey Him and God wants people to be saved. So I wouldn't want to bake that cake. And, Frankly, it would offend my dignity to force me to bake that cake."

Although many people are under the impression that laws that force Christian bakers to provide cakes for same-sex weddings would also force gay bakeries to make cakes such as "God Hates Fags" or "Gay Marriage is Wrong," the state of Colorado doesn't see it that way.

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies ruled last week that Azucar Bakery in Denver did not violate the law when it refused to make two bible-shaped cakes that read "God Hates Sin. Psalm 45:7" and "Homosexualtiy is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:2." The bakery owner offered to bake the cakes, but refused to write the words on them in icing.

The agency ruled that the bakery did not discriminate based on religious beliefs because the request included "derogatory language and imagery."

Although the Colorado agency ruled that it was not discrimination for the bakery owner to refuse to provide the cake as requested, the Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled last year that a Christian bakery, Masterpiece Cake Shop, was not legally allowed to refuse to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Santorum added in his Face The Nation interview that as the majority opinion in America is shifting in favor of gay marriage, it is important that people's convictions on both sides of the issue are still respected.

"You are seeing attitudes in this country change and when those attitudes change, we run into a whole bunch of new issues. So, the question is how do we deal with that and we are respecting people on both sides of the issues?" Santorum asked. "I think that is where you have to differentiate between discrimination against the person because of who they are and … an unwillingness to participate in actions because they are inconsistent with your religious beliefs."

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