Perhaps the University of Chicago Law School should sit Stephen Richer down and explain to him that his interpretation of the law is rather incorrect. Or better yet, how to do actual research and weigh your sources. Of course, if his recent writings are any indication, this juris doctor candidate may not manage to actually get out of Law School.
Richer recently attacked the New Mexico Supreme Court for their ruling taking Elaine Huguenin to task for violating state law. Richer, who has worked for the Washington Legal Foundation, American Unity PAC, and The Cato Institute, is upset that the NM Supreme Court would rule against Huguenin because she refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony.
Richer wrote that in this case “the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against the freedom of religion.” Huguenin violated the state’s Human Rights Act, and her conviction was upheld by both the appellate and supreme courts in that state.
Richer claims that “There are many disturbing aspects of this decision: it cuts against free religious practice; it compels speech; and it reinforces the simple but toxic idea that private businesses can’t actually make private decisions.”
He also wrote that “In addition to the anti-freedom consequences above, the decision also promises to hurt the gay-equality movement. This seems counterintuitive at first as the gay plaintiff won the case, but it doesn’t take a novel theory to realize how such a ruling could damage the movement.”
Except that he is wrong. Richer apparently does not understand how the majority of Americans see religious freedom these days. Richer relies upon the case of Roe v. Wade. This is an inaccurate comparison. He claims that any harm made against Christians like the Huguenin will turn public opinion against the LGBT Rights movement, but fails to actually explain how.
Richer points to the Roe v. Wade opinion, but tries to back his assertions up with a poll from Rasmussen Reports which said that 85% of those polled “Think Christian Photographer Has Right to Turn Down Same-Sex Wedding Job.” Polling can be tricky, especially when it’s methodology is listed as “automated polling methodology”.
Automated polling methodology has the problem of being less accurate than polling conducted in person. Furthermore, the polling was not done of 1,000 New Mexicans, but rather 1,000 Adults- nationwide. Despite claims that this was an accurate poll, it looks like it was not well done. Nate Silver has also pointed out, repeatedly, that Rasmussen Reports are highly inaccurate and biased.
Richer then goes on to point out that negative reaction had already started at “blogs like Hot Air, Breitbart, The Right Scoop, Fox News and National Review Online.” This would be significant if the negative reaction was happening at, say, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Fire Dog Lake, ThinkProgress or Talking Points Memo, but given that the ones that Richer lists are already pretty anti-gay, it is just business as usual.
The big problem for Richer is that Americans, by and large, stopped believing that you live your life with your religion on your sleeve everywhere you go. The majority of Americans do not believe in religious based discrimination either. The majority of Americans have gotten fed up with those Bible Thumpers who push their religious beliefs on others to the point that there is a growing backlash against people whining about ‘religious freedom’ in the United States.
The big problem for Richer, and for most anti-gay rights activists, is that trying to frame things like this case as being harmful to the LGBT rights movement just doesn’t help their case much because it comes across as insincere. Furthermore, it becomes quite obvious that they are grasping for straws.
The attempts to link the LGBT rights movement to the abortion debate just isn’t flying either. Abortion is a very different dynamic, and they only appear to be identical if you are, like Richer, obsessed with religion as the prime factor in the two debates.