WHO WILL BAKE THE CAKE? - No Fuss In West Virginia About Gay Rights


Following outrage by corporations, sports teams and social justice groups over an Indiana bill that opponents have called religious discrimination against gays, West Virginia has been a state that's legal to fire gays from their job or evict them from their dwellings because they are gay, being excluded from anti-discrimination bills passed by the WV legislature.

There is obviously no problem from Wal-Mart, national corporations or sports teams, or indeed the public, regarding such status in the Mountain State.

Three "religious freedom" bills, similar to the one passed in Indiana, were introduced this year in the West Virginia legislature.


David Hedges-Editor/Publisher
Times Record/Roane Co. Reporter

Should it be legal for one person to discriminate against another because they hold different beliefs? That is the question facing not only residents of Indiana, but the rest of the country as well.

The Indiana legislature recently passed, and Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law, a piece of legislation known as the Religious Freedom act.

Proponents of the law say it protects religious expression and is modeled after federal legislation passed in 1993 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Opponents say it targets same sex couples who could be discriminated against by business owners who don't want to serve them.

This appears to be a solution in a desperate search of a problem.

Much has been made of the baker, I believe it may have been in Colorado, who did not want to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple, but I doubt this is a common occurrence.

I suspect most people who go into a bakery and order a cake get a cake. Business owners generally are in business to sell things. Most customers who can't get what they want at one business take their business elsewhere.

But this is America, where we like to get the legal system involved in everything, even baking a wedding cake.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 37 states, including Indiana. Of the gay marriage bans remaining in the other 13 states, eight have been overturned, but appeals are pending. There is no reason to think that, when those court rulings come, they will be any different than those in the other states.

Opponents of same-sex marriage don't like that, but instead of showing their displeasure by refusing to wed another person of the same sex, they want to impose their belief system onto others with different beliefs.

History indicates they may be fighting a losing battle. Homosexuality has been around since Biblical days. No law has ever prevented it.

The Bible, as most would interpret it, says homosexuality is a sin. But the Bible mentions lots of things that are sins that are not against the law. Greed and lust are two that come to mind, but there are many more, like eating shellfish or loaning money.

While we as individuals may subject ourselves to the word of the holy book of our choosing, our nation is governed by laws made by man. This is not a nation like many of those in the Arab world, where God's word and law are one and the same.

Americans may pursue the faith of, their choosing, or no faith at all. That is why our forefathers settled here, so that no one else could tell them how to worship.

In West Virginia, it is perfectly legal to fire, someone from their, job, or evict them from their home, because they are gay. Unlike race, religion, sex or national origin, sexual preference is not included in the state code that prevents discrimination.

Efforts to include sexual preference as a protected class, like race, have been beaten back in the state legislature. At the same time, this year the legislature also rejected efforts to negate local ordinances that prohibit discrimination based on sexual preference.

In other words, we can't seem make up our minds.

Democrats in the W.Va. Legislature, who found themselves in the minority this year for the first time in over 80 years, learned to use that to their advantage.

When something came up the Democrats didn't like, like charter schools, they inserted a clause into the bill that charter schools could not discriminate on the basis of the standard things - plus sexual preference. With that included, bills suffered a rapid death.

Opponents of same-sex marriage have dropped the argument that it poses a threat to traditional marriage. Perhaps they realized it made it sound as if they longed to be married to someone of the same sex, but the only thing preventing them from doing so was the law.

Now those who oppose same sex marriage must grudgingly accept it as law, but want to pretend it doesn't exist by telling bakers who open their doors to the public they only have to bake cake for those of whom they approve.

But that's the problem with living in a democracy governed by laws. You can't have your cake and eat it, too.

See 3 W.Va. bills the same as Indiana's religious freedom law By David Gutman, for the Charleston Gazette

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