Continuing the right-wing media's baseless attacks on anti-discrimination laws as assaults on freedom, National Review Online (NRO) conducted a one-sided interview with a baker about the alleged threat to liberty posed by having to treat gay customers the same as any other customer.
In an interview published on January 29, NRO editor-at-large Kathryn Jean Lopez spoke with Jack Phillips, owner of the Colorado bakery Masterpiece Cakes. In December, a Colorado administrative law judge found that Phillips had violated Colorado's anti-discrimination law when he refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple. Represented by the extremistAlliance Defending Freedom (ADF) - a group working internationally to criminalize homosexuality - Phillips has appealed the decision, charging that it violates his First Amendment right to religious liberty and compels him to communicate a message with which he disagrees.
Contrary to the assertions of Phillips and his ADF attorneys, anti-discrimination laws don't police private beliefs - religious or otherwise - but simply require businesses operating on the public marketplace not to discriminate against customers based on arbitrary characteristics like race, sexuality, or gender. But aside from perfunctory questions asking Phillips to respond to the other side, Lopez went along with the ADF's religious persecution narrative (emphasis added):
LOPEZ: What was your reaction to having a civil-rights complaint filed against you? Did you see yourself as a civil-rights violator?
PHILLIPS: It is shocking that the government has attempted to take away my freedom, and really the freedom of all Coloradoans, simply for declining to design and create a wedding cake for a marriage that is not even recognized in the state of Colorado. I am being punished for living and working according to my faith and the marriage laws of the state of Colorado.
LOPEZ: What does Christianity mean in your life? Why can't you leave it out of your cake-making?
PHILLIPS: As I have said before, I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I am called to obey Him and His teachings in all aspects of my life. I cannot leave my faith out of my cake art, nor should I have to in a free country. I love doing what God has designed me to do. A marriage between a man and a woman represents the relationship of Christ to His Church. There are few things more sacred. This is one of the reasons I love making wedding cakes and why I have such passion and skill when I create wedding cakes. My religious convictions motivate me to make great wedding cakes.
LOPEZ: Has this changed the way you look at the First Amendment and freedom?
PHILLIPS: The coercion favored by the government and the ACLU in the name of "tolerance" is a chilling and unprecedented attack on freedom. If anything, this has actually strengthened my commitment to the First Amendment and the principles upon which this country was founded.
LOPEZ: What's the future for freedom look like from where you're standing?
PHILLIPS: I am optimistic that the courts will uphold the law and the constitutions of the United States and the state of Colorado. This country was founded on religious liberty and freedom for all, and I do not see the government's efforts to take our God-given rights away succeeding in the long run.
Despite what Lopez suggested, nobody is asking Phillips to "leave [Christianity] out of" his baking; all that Colorado law requires is that if he wants to offer a product to the public, Phillips must treat everyone equally. Complying with Colorado law only imperils Christianity to the extent that bigotry and Christianity are the same thing - a conflation the right-wing media has been all too happy to make.
Echoing attacks commonly waged against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the conservative media has repeatedly framed anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people as an assaults on individual liberty and free enterprise. During an interview with Phillips and his attorney in December, Fox News wondered whether anti-discrimination laws marked "the death of free enterprise" in America. Fox's Erick Erickson has called LGBT people the real bigots for seeking laws that protect them from discrimination, while The Washington Times has depicted Phillips as the victim of "militant homosexual activists" who want to rob him of his precious freedom to discriminate.