Right-wing lawyer: Christian business owners the true victims of anti-LGBT discrimination
Christian business owners, not same-sex couples, are the real victims when it comes to LGBT discrimination, according to conservative attorney Austin Nimrocks.
Nimocks serves as senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. The conservative Christian group is providing legal representation to Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin of Elane Photography. The company was subjected to a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission after refusing to photograph a same-sex wedding ceremony. Alliance Defending Freedom has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
“There are damages — I want to be very clear — there are damages,” Nimocks said at the Heritage Foundation’s Conservative Policy Summit on Monday. “I think when you violate somebody’s constitutional rights and you take away their free exercise [of religion] rights and their free speech rights, which is what is happening to our clients, that is damaging. It may not be on the side that our opponents think the damages are on, but I think there are damages and consequences associated with these conflicts.”
Same-sex couples who are denied services because of their sexual orientation are not really victims of discrimination, Nimocks said, because they have been able to find other vendors who are willing to work with them. Businesses, on the other hand, suffer when they’re forced to work with same-sex couples in violation of their religious beliefs.
“The business is damaged,” he added. “In our cases, what you are pitting against is the hassle of having to make another phone call or do another Internet search versus a constitutional right. Or, arguably, a constitutional right versus a state non-discrimination law, assuming there is a prima facie case of discrimination.”
“In either circumstance — and I realize I’m biased because I represent them — I think our clients should win, because that free exercise of religion and that right of free speech is most important, especially when you do have a free marketplace and those who are petitioning for services can find what they want — and that is the story that no one wants to talk about in the media, it portrays the same-sex couples as victims and that just hasn’t been the case in the way all these things have happened.”
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