Julie Rodgers wrote this sentence in her Aug. 4 op-ed, “A compromise between Christians and LGBTQ people”: “Practically, this means photographers, bakers and tailors would agree to offer services to LGBTQ people, knowing their churches are free to enforce policies that align with their convictions.” Impractically, however, her sentence does not comport with the Constitution.
Her point comes from the frequent misunderstanding that the First Amendment’s words about religion relate to religious toleration. They don’t; they relate to religious liberty. People are free to exercise their religious practices without having to compromise them. So, when one understands the difference between religious toleration (a constitutional fiction) and religious liberty (a constitutional fact), one has to wonder why the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, whose outcome should have been obvious, had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to get adjudicated properly.
Patrick Rhoads, Alexandria
Although Julie Rodgers’s vision of compromise between Christians and LGBTQ people is attractive, I disagree with her Aug. 4 op-ed. Compromise has no inherent virtue. History is full of successful compromises, such the Compromise of 1790, in which Washington was made the capital in exchange for a Hamiltonian financial system, but also disastrous compromises such as the Three-Fifths Compromise. To ask for compromise between Christians and LGBTQ people is to ask for a compromise more akin to the latter example than the former.
Successful compromises arise between groups with equally legitimate beliefs. The notion that opposition to gay rights is derived from “sincerely held religious beliefs” is the greatest ideological challenge the LGBTQ community faces. In the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy called it unacceptable discrimination for a commissioner to claim, accurately, that religion has been leveraged to justify discrimination including slavery. As such, the court refused to call it discrimination for a business to refuse service to a man seeking to wed a man in the ultimate expression of the sexuality he was born with.
If we accept that our opponents can reasonably believe we are sinful, then we suggest that our sexualities are beliefs rather than immutable characteristics. Why does this matter? Beliefs can be compromised; rights and the humanity they signify cannot. Civil rights leaders did not compromise with the Ku Klux Klan, because they knew that white supremacy was a depraved belief regardless of religious justification. LGBTQ people should not be compelled to do the same.
Grace Sullivan, Clarksville