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Ninth Circuit Court: WA Can Force Pharmacists to Sell Plan B

In the latest development in a case that has lasted nearly a decade, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Washington State can force a pharmacy to sell Plan B despite their moral objections to doing so.

Plan B is a drug many object to because they believe it causes an early state abortion.

In 2007, the Washington State Board of Health created new rules stating that pharmacies must stock and sell Plan B. However, Ralph’s Thriftway challenged the rule and a judge ruled that the First Amendment protected their right to refer customers rather than sell a drug they objected to on moral grounds.

In their ruling yesterday, the Court of Appeals overturned that decision.

Kevin Stormans, President of Stormans Inc, which owns Ralph’s Thriftway, pointed out the irrationality of this decision in light of the general right pharmacists have to give referrals generally. “The state allows pharmacies to refer for all kinds of reasons. In practice, it only bans religiously motivated referrals.”

Mr. Stormans continued, “With 33 pharmacies stocking the drug within five miles of our store, it is extremely disappointing that the court and the state demand that we violate our conscience or lose our family business.”

Kristen Waggoner, lead counsel in the case and Senior Vice President of Legal Services at the Alliance Defending Freedom, noted that, “This case will affect many facilities within the state, including Catholic hospitals and pharmacies, which have made clear they will not dispense these drugs.”

Washington’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, who is also suing Arlene’s Flowers because she declined to decorate for a same-sex wedding, called the decision “a major victory for the people of Washington.”

Luke Goodrich, an Attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which helped defend the pharmacists, noted that “no patient has ever been denied timely access to any drug.”

But that didn’t matter.

The Court of Appeals said it was important for states to have the power to force pharmacists to violate their beliefs because, “facilitated referrals could lead to feelings of shame in the patient that could dissuade her from obtaining emergency contraception altogether.”

The Oregon Labor Commission similarly cited hurt feelings to justify a $135,000 fine against a bakery that did not want to bake a same-sex wedding cake. In addition, Justice Kennedy’s decision redefining marriage similarly argued that acknowledging the difference between heterosexual and homosexual relationships condemns people to “live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.”

While traditionally the job of courts has been to interpret the law, the fact that the courts have appointed themselves guardians of the people’s feelings can only be a bad thing for freedom.

Attorneys for Ralph’s Thriftway have pledged to appeal the ruling. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the most frequently overturned.

What can you do in response to this decision?

  1. Contact your legislator and ask them to support legislation that allows Washingtonians to live and work according to their beliefs without fear of unreasonable government intrusion. You can reach them at the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.
  2. If you disagree with Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s belief that this decision is “a major victory for the people of Washington”, call him at 360-753-6200 and let him know.
  3. Forward this email to someone who shares your concern about the rapid loss of liberty and encourage them to do the same. We are the solution to our problems.

Remember, in politics silence is consent. Always be respectful, but don’t be silent.

This story has been edited from its original version to correctly identify the lead counsel in the case. 7/24/15 11:11 am

Religious Liberty – Attacks Continue to Mount

In the ongoing battle to preserve religious liberty, two more small business owners are feeling the heat of litigation over their views on traditional marriage. It is likely you have already heard about Barronelle Stutzman, Aaron and Melissa Klein, and so many others who decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience and deeply held religious beliefs. This summer, Richard and Betty Odgaard will join their ranks and close the doors to their 13-year-old business.

As owners of Görtz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa, the Odgaards have operated a wedding venue, bistro, flower shop, and art gallery in an old stone church since 2002. When a gay couple approached them requesting to rent the church for their wedding, the Odgaards declined, knowing this decision would not be congruous with their Mennonite faith and convictions. By the next day, the gay couple had filed a report with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. There was no trial by jury – only an administrative judgment by the same entity with whom the gay couple had filed their complaint. Since the laws in Iowa place the burden of proof on the Odgaards, they knew the judgment was all but predetermined and inevitable. The Beckett Fund, whose lawyers were defending the Odgaards, notes that “the State refused to dismiss its case against the Odgaards even after the two men—contrary to their prior sworn statements—admitted they had been married months before asking the Odgaards to host their ceremony.” In addition to this, the church at Görtz Haus was not entitled to the same protections which Iowa currently allows houses of worship, due to its public service capacity. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission also denied the Odgaards access to the Iowa state court to defend their claims.

The Odgaards did not admit to discrimination, but agreed to a $5,000 settlement. They initially closed the wedding portion of their business to avoid further lawsuits but were isolated from community support since they could not speak out while the case was pending. Ultimately, the firestorm of negative press and boycotts proved too much and they will be closing their business completely this August. Speaking of those who participated in the boycott, Richard Odgaard said,

Let us take this statement as a call to action and an encouragement to speak out while we can. Those with whom we disagree may be vocal, but we must be too.

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For more details on the Odgaards’ story, check out this article written by Kelsey Harkness at the Daily Signal.

You can send a note of encouragement to the Odgaards here: hischildren@gods-design.org

Stay informed and find out how you can join FPIW in making a difference by checking out the opportunities here

Dhimmitude in America?

You may not know what dhimmitude is and hopefully you never experience it.

But you’ve probably heard of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and you’re almost surely aware of what Christians are.

Dhimmitude is an Islamic system that governs non-Muslims who have been conquered through Jihad by folks like ISIS.

If you surrender to Muslim control – though not Muslim – you are referred to as dhimmi.

Sounds fun, right?

If ISIS took over the town you live in, they might move door to door and give you three options: “convert to Islam, pay the jizya, or die.”

The jizya is a tax for not being Muslim.

It doesn’t apply to everyone, but paying it is seen as proof of your subjection to the Jihadist state and its laws. In return, non-Muslim subjects are permitted to practice their faith, to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy, to be entitled to the Muslim state’s protection from outside aggression.

Acknowledging the difference, there are parallels between the way Jihadists treat those who are in dhimmitude and the way the new sexual revolution in America seeks to treat those who disagree with their (religious?) beliefs about sexuality and marriage.

Once they have political power, they are giving businesses three options “convert, pay a fine, or die” (economically, not physically).

After Arlene’s Flowers was sued for declining to decorate for a same-sex wedding, Attorney General Bob Ferguson offered to settle (demanded the jizya) for $2,000 on the condition that she would “convert,” or agree to make business decisions according to the state’s new values.

Only a few days ago, a judge in Oregon fined a bakery $135,000 because they attempted to run their business according to their Christian beliefs about sexuality rather than the government’s. When they rejected the government’s demands that they convert or pay the jizya, the government opted for what amounts to the economic death penalty.

“Nonsense,” you argue. “They broke the law. Having penalties for breaking the law isn’t exactly innovative. Nor is it jihadist.”

Fair enough.

But the left’s new found impulse to be sticklers for the letter of the law misses the larger point.

The left is proposing a regime change that fundamentally alters freedoms that have been taken for granted for in America for centuries.

Christians, Jews, Muslims and others have been not participating in same-sex “weddings” for millennia.

But under the new regime, doing what has always been done is illegal.

Your choice. Convert, pay a fine if you refuse to convert and then convert, or experience economic death.

Like the jizya, the non-discrimination law discriminates.  It protects one person’s right to decline to participate in an activity they disagree with, but denies that right to others. 

The good news is that if you accept the terms of the new regime, you will still be allowed a measure of communal autonomy, and be entitled to other benefits from the state.

Imagine a new law compelling church attendance or pork consumption on the grounds that refusing to participate is discriminatory. (Which, of course, it is. But that’s the kind of discrimination lefties still like.)

Being indignant with the atheist who objects to compulsory church attendance would be stupid since he’s simply doing what atheists have always done.

“But it’s the law,” you say, self-righteously.

“But it shouldn’t be the law, and you should know better,” he says in response.

And of course he’s right.

The way non-discrimination laws are being interpreted right now is not a modification to the building code that frustrates some builders or a change in the speed law that catches unsuspecting drivers.

It is a regime change that seeks to fundamentally alter the way Americans have always lived. It seeks to create the kind of conformity that America was created in opposition to.

America doesn’t and shouldn’t have conquered peoples. We make room for the atheists, Christians, Muslims, or Jew to be who they are, not just in their preferred place of worship, but in the rest of their life as well. We respect the right for people to be who they are, even if we think they’re silly and ignorant. We understand that we’re different and we make room for that.

Dhimmitude is for jihadists, not for Americans.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

A story out of Colorado this week demonstrates what many of us have been feeling for a while. When it comes to laws dealing with “gay stuff”, there really is no law. Only the preferences of the person making the decision.

You may have heard a story about Jack Phillips, a Denver baker who runs Masterpiece Cakeshop. After declining to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, The Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) found him in violation of state law and ordered him to undergo sensitivity training. They also ordered him to file quarterly reports with the state to see if he has turned away customers based on sexual orientation.

But there’s another case you may not have heard about.

In an apparent response to the Masterpiece Cakeshop dust up, a man named William Jack from Castle Rock, Colorado approached three bakeries (Azucar Bakery, Gateaux, and Le Bakery Sensual) and asked them to bake cakes critical of same-sex marriage.

In the case of Azucar Bakery, he requested a cake with two groomsmen holding hands in front of a cross with a red “X” over the image. The cake was also to include three statements “God hates sin. Psalm 45:7”, “Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:2” and “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.”

To no one’s surprise, they declined.

In response, Mr. Jack filed his own complaint with the CCRC claiming that their refusal to bake the cake communicating his Christian opposition to homosexuality was discrimination based on creed; specifically his Christian faith.

Denying the charge of discrimination, the bakery claimed it refused to bake the cake because of the message not because of the religion of the person requesting it. They considered the message to be “discriminatory”.

In the end, the CCRC agreed with the bakery and concluded the refusal to bake the cake requested was not discrimination based on creed for three reasons.

First, they said the refusal was not because the person requesting it was a Christian but because the cake “included derogatory language and imagery.”

Second, they cited the fact that they had served Christians before as evidence that they don’t discriminate on the basis of creed.

Third, the bakery would also refuse to bake a cake that was critical of Christians.

If it feels like these are the same arguments that were made by Jack Phillips (and other businesses) who happily serve gay customers but are unwilling to be part of same-sex wedding, that’s because they are.

The CCRC summarized that, “ [T]he evidence demonstrates that the Respondent would have made a cake for the Charging Party for any event, celebration or occasion regardless of his creed. Instead, the Respondent’s denial was based on the explicit message that the Charging Party wished to include on the cakes, which the Respondent deemed as discriminatory.”

So, if the message on the cake is one you don’t agree with, you can decline. However, if the cake itself is a message you disagree with, you cannot decline.

That makes sense…to no one.

It is apparent that the CCRC sympathizes one perspective but not the other.

These arbitrary and contradictory results are the legal equivalent of the middle finger.

We’re in charge and you aren’t. That’s why.

Of course those bakeries should be free not to bake a cake that includes a message they disagree with. The problem is laws which permit people to act on one set of beliefs about a particular issue but deny people with the opposite opinion the same rights.

In fairness, arbitrary application of the laws based on the preferences of the person in power has been the norm not the exception throughout history.

But America has been an attempt to move away from that. It hasn’t been perfect, but despite abuses of power, we have aspired to create a world in which everyone is bound by the same laws in the same way.

As a result, we have worked to create a world in which people who were similarly situated could expect similar results in court.

Clearly, we have progressed beyond that. Because, you know…equality.

Heads I win, tails you lose.

Therapy Ban Resurfaces in the Legislature

In the on-going quest to ban choices they disagree with, a handful of legislators in Olympia have re-introduced bills to prohibit Sexual Orientation Change Effort (SOCE) therapy.

These bills (HB 1972 and SB 5870) would make it professional misconduct for a licensed therapist to help a minor reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attraction. As a result, a minor who is experiencing unwanted same-sex attraction would be unable to get professional therapist.

A similar bill was introduced last year and passed the House of Representatives before dying in the Senate without a vote.

The politics behind this issue are not complicated. The homosexual lobby is deeply committed to marginalizing those who disagree with their view of human sexuality.

Generally, non-discrimination laws are the tools used to compel conformity. They have been used to sue florists, bakeries, photographers, and property owners who did not want to participate in a same-sex ceremony.

One counseling student was even kicked out of school for “discrimination” when she referred lesbian clients to another counselor she believed would be better able to help.

However, it is apparently difficult to accuse a therapist who is in the process of counseling a client of discriminating.

“But they disagree with us?” they protest. “They must be punished. What can we do?”

“I know, I know. If they’re not discriminating against gay people, we’ll make it professional misconduct to help a gay person with something we don’t think the gay person should want.”

“Brilliant, why didn’t we think of this before.”

The world of counseling is supposed to be a patient driven process. But this bill makes therapy a legislature driven process, where politicians get to decide if the therapy is politically correct enough to be allowed.

They don’t believe someone should want to change their sexual orientation so they want to make it illegal to try. Believing change is impossible, they are convinced the only possible outcome of such therapy is pain.

Never mind the fact that many people’s feelings have changed and others have made a conscious choice not to identify as gay. The idea that change is either possible or desirable hurts the feelings of some who have no interest in changing or have tried and failed. Since that is true, you should have the good sense to stop talking.

This is America. You’re not allowed to say things that hurt people’s feelings.

Supporters of the bill claim it will stop abuse of kids who identify as gay. They tell stories about shock therapy and children being forced to watch gay pornography from ice baths in an effort to make them associate pain with same-sex attraction.

While that kind of therapy unfortunately did occur in the 60’s and 70’s, those practices are widely condemned, exceedingly rare, and already prohibited as either unprofessionally coercive or simply abusive.

In two years, no evidence has been presented that the type of therapy described has happened anywhere in Washington in recent history. Actual instances of this kind of therapy are (thankfully) so uncommon that proponents in New Jersey were forced to make up stories about camps that abuse kids in an effort to generate sympathy for their position.

Curiously, proponents of this legislation have so far declined to support a bill that would ban aversive therapies like ice baths and shock therapy. Instead, they prefer legislation that regulates talk therapy.

This suggests the motive is less about protecting children from abuse and more about controlling speech they disagree with.

The effort to control speech is why these bills have significant constitutional concerns as well. In addition to prohibiting one perspective on the issue of homosexuality from being communicated, the House bill would also regulate what a pastor or church employee says inside their church, provided they are a licensed therapist.

There will be a hearing on Tuesday, February 17th in Senate Hearing Room 4 for SB 5870 at 10 AM.

If you are a therapist who has experience with this issue that would be willing to help educate children, or if you have personally benefited from this kind of therapy and would like to share your experience with legislators who have very little information about the subject generally, please let us know
by emailing us at info@fpiw.org.

You are encouraged to contact your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and share your thoughts on this or any other bill of interest to you. You can also email them by clicking here.

Your involvement is critical.

If we do nothing, we may fully embrace this brave new world where you can be expected to control your gender but not your impulses.

Redefining Discrimination

By now you probably know that a Florist in Richland, Washington is being sued by the Attorney General because she declined to decorate for a same-sex ceremony.

The lawsuits are based on the belief that declining to be part of that event was discrimination based on sexual orientation.

However, there’s a problem with the argument that she discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. She has consistently and happily done business with people who identify as gay for years, including the individuals involved in this case. She considered them friends.

Still, the perpetrators of these lawsuits have found a way to rationalize their attempts to ruin the life of a perfectly decent grandmother whose life is a model of how to be charitable without abandoning your convictions; something we used to value in this country.

Since there is no evidence that she actually discriminates based on sexual orientation, they have redefined what discrimination means in order to make it illegal to have a business and disagree with them about same-sex “marriage”.

The old definition of discrimination meant that you couldn’t have a policy of refusing to business with a protected class. Meaning, you can’t say “no Mexicans allowed” or “Protestants only”.

The new definition of discrimination means this: if you offer a particular service for any purpose, you must offer that same service for every purpose. In her case, if you’re willing to do a wedding for a man and a woman, you must be willing to do a wedding for two men.

Where their argument stops no one knows.

Is Mrs. Stutzman obligated to decorate for a Satanic wedding as well? Can she be forced to do a wedding for a thruple (three people of various genders or maybe no gender at all)? If a family member was to be involved in a wedding she did not personally support, will she be compelled to attend at gun point if the family member was willing to pay for her services?

Or maybe gay is the only thing you’re not allowed to say no to? No one knows, yet.

Whatever your business is, stop and think about how this new understanding of “discrimination” could affect what you do?

If you’re a general contractor, surely you can imagine a contract you would decline out of personal conviction. The new ISIS community center perhaps.

You’re a website designer. You probably want the right to decline to build a support group page for pedophiles or a memorial site for “Great, but not forgotten, Nazi heroes”?

Every lawyer has both a right and obligation to decline a case if he feels he cannot provide zealous representation for the client.

You think the Christian thing to do is to decorate for the gay wedding? Great, have a great time decorating for it.

But we should be able to agree that people shouldn’t be forced to choose between their business and their faith. That’s what they do in Cuba, China, and Russia.

Once the government has created a religious litmus test in order to run certain types of businesses, are they not discriminating on religious grounds?

Of course they are. But from their perspective, this is good discrimination necessary to prohibit bad discrimination.

In other words, “you shouldn’t be able to use your religion to hurt people, so I should be able to use the government to hurt you.”

In their mind, the harm associated with needing to find another florist is a greater harm than bankrupting a grandmother because of her beliefs about homosexuality.

In one sense we should be sympathetic. There’s an old saying that “hurt people, hurt people”. When you encounter someone who is genuinely interested in harming another person who offended them, they are inevitably acting out of a lot of real pain. The homosexual community is filled with people who have real stories of real pain because they have been legitimately wronged.

But that doesn’t justify their attempts to use political leverage to destroy the lives of good people in an act of general revenge.

There’s an important parallel to the Islamic Terrorists who shot the cartoonists in Paris. While so many on the left are insisting that Je Suis Charlie, in reality, the left in America has been playing the same game with (thankfully) different weapons for a long time.

Brendan Eich was fired as CEO of the company he started because of his beliefs about marriage. Private property owners have been fined because they do not want their private property used for a same-sex ceremony. Every time a TV personality expresses their commitment to the biblical understanding of marriage, protests organize to get them off the air.  Bakers, florists, and wedding photographers are facing lawsuits and fines because they prefer not to be part of same-sex ceremonies.

Without question, mass murder is orders of magnitude worse than the tactics the militant gay lobby has been using to make examples of the people who disagree with them.

But the root problem is the same.

A society cannot remain free if the people within the society seek the personal destruction of those who offend them.

The law exists to provide a remedy for real harms. But if we now believe that finding another florist after a polite conversation is an injury requiring the attention of our nation’s leadership we might as well drop any remaining pretense of adulthood and return to our pacifiers.

The essence of tolerance is the ability to disagree agreeably. Barronelle Stutzman has proven to be a model of how to do that. The other folks…not so much.

We have different stories, beliefs, and experiences. Each of us can learn something from our neighbors, especially our neighbors who are very different than us.

We all can agree that everyone should have the same opportunities in life regardless of what groups they are a part of. In that sense, we all oppose “discrimination”.  But if “discrimination” has now been redefined to have nothing to do with opportunities and everything to do with feelings, count me out.

I prefer the adult world.