National Review Online 18 February 2014
For years now, a central argument of those in favor of same-sex marriage has been that all Americans should be free to live and love how they choose. But does that freedom require the government to coerce those who disagree into celebrating same-sex relationships?
A growing number of incidents show that the redefinition of marriage and state policies on sexual orientation have created a climate of intolerance and intimidation for citizens who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman and that sexual relations are properly reserved for marriage. Now comes government coercion and discrimination. Laws that create special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity are being used to trump fundamental civil liberties such as freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.
These laws add sexual orientation and gender identity (dubbed SOGI) to the list of protected classes such as those grouped by race, sex, and national origin. Unfortunately, these sexual orientation and gender laws have serious flaws. They frequently fail to protect the civil liberties of Americans, especially our religious liberty. These SOGI laws tend to be vague and overly broad without clear definitions of what conduct can and cannot be penalized. The definitions can be entirely subjective: Boise and other cities in Idaho now prohibit even indirect acts that make another person feel he is being “treated as not welcome.” And increasingly these local SOGI laws have criminal penalties, unlike the landmark Civil Rights Law of 1964.
In addition to the well-known examples of Christian adoption and foster-care agencies that have been forced to stop providing those services because they object to placing children in same-sex households, the examples below show how government has penalized citizens trying to run their businesses in accordance with their beliefs.