Christian radio host Mat Staver was at a loss on Tuesday when trying to tell a New York lawmaker how businesses discriminating against members of the LGBT communities was any difference than doing so against people of color, Right Wing Watch reported.
Staver, the dean of Liberty University’s school of law and head of the conservative lawyers’ group the Liberty Counsel, encountered stiff questioning from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) during a subcommittee meeting for the House Committee on the Judiciary regarding alleged threats to religious freedom like marriage equality.
Nadler pressed Staver repeatedly on the question of whether photographers can use religious beliefs as a reason to refuse to take pictures at same-sex marriages, drawing the analogy between those couples and relationships between two people of color.
“Would it be an equal limitation to his religious belief if he said, “I don’t want to go to a wedding of Black people?” Nadler, himself an attorney, asked. “Would the government saying, ‘You can’t do that,’ be a violation of his religious freedom?”
“I think that’s not fundamentally different. She’s not saying she doesn’t want to photograph a wedding where there’s people who are gay and lesbian,” Staver said. “She’s saying she doesn’t want to photograph a celebration of same-sex unions.”
“And if her religious beliefs said, ‘I don’t want to celebrate a celebration of Black unions, because I think Black people shouldn’t get married, that’s in my religion,’?” Nadler asked. “Is it an imposition on her religious freedom for government to say, ‘You can’t do that?’”
“I think that’s fundamentally different,” Staver said, without offering up any specific different. “I don’t think that’s what the issue is in that case and I don’t –”
“That’s exactly what the issue is,” Nadler shot back. “She has a religious belief that she shouldn’t participate or be forced to participate in a celebration which goes against her religious belief, and let’s assume her religious belief is, she shouldn’t photograph a Jewish wedding. Would that be discrimination that the civil rights law can proscribe or not, and if not why not?”
“I think it would be something that she wouldn’t object to,” Staver responded.
“Somebody with some religious belief might object,” Nadler said, cutting him off. “I’m not saying that your client, or your friend, or whoever she is [did]. Let’s assume that somebody has such a religious belief — that it’s a violation of her religious belief to be forced professionally, because she’s a photographer, to photograph a Jewish wedding. Or a Muslim wedding, or whatever. And the government says, ‘That’s discrimination, you can’t do that.’ Is the government’s being improper by limiting her religious freedom in that case?”
Watch the discussion, as posted online on Tuesday, below.