Presidential candidates can have an impact on culture. Above everything else, they have the capacity to decide how to frame the issues and push them to their opponents, in the primary and in the general election.
I was very grateful to Hugh Hewitt for bringing up religious liberty at the CNN GOP debate in Houston, as the question that is “keeping him up at night.” Here’s the full exchange with all the candidates:
HEWITT: Governor Kasich, back to religious liberty. You’ve been a little bit less emphatic. You’ve said, same-sex couple approaches a cupcake maker, sell them a cupcake. Can we trust you as much on religious liberty as the rest of these people?
KASICH: Well, you know, of course. I mean, if — look, I was involved in just being a pioneer in a new church. Religious institutions should be able to practice the religion that they believe in. No question and no doubt about it.
Now, in regard to same-sex marriage, I don’t favor it. I’ve always favored traditional marriage, but, look, the Court has ruled and I’ve moved on. And what I’ve said, Hugh, is that, look, where does it end?
If you’re in the business of selling things, if you’re not going to sell to somebody you don’t agree with, OK, “today I’m not going to sell to somebody who’s gay, and tomorrow maybe I won’t sell to somebody who’s divorced.”
Really, Governor Kasich? By refusing to defend the actual victims of government power and positing totally fanciful slippery-slope arguments as your excuse for earning mainstream applause, you do make your position painfully clear: You think the government should have the power and the right to punish and take away the pension of Barronelle Stutzman for the crime of not wanting to do the flowers for a gay wedding. You think it’s great the government took away the livelihoods of the five kids of Melissa Klein and her husband.
#share#Governor Kasich, do you also think African-American fire chief Kelvin Cochran should have been fired for writing that the Bible doesn’t approve of gay sex? If not, what will you do to stop the threats to gay-marriage dissenters. What exactly, Governor Kasich?
Kasich gets away with this answer, to the extent he does, because he mischaracterizes the issue in a way that demeans and disparages the people who have had the courage to stand up to the Left’s push to redefine Christian views of marriage as bigotry.
Governor Kasich, you know this: Melissa Klein doesn’t want to deny a cupcake to a gay person, or any other kind of person. Barronelle Stutzman had warmly and lovingly served the gay couple whose wedding bouquets she did not want to create. Elaine Huguenin is asking only that we make room for her in the great American circle of tolerance: Don’t force her to use her creative talents to celebrate a gay wedding.
A gay wedding is not a person. It is a choice. And whether or not you agree with that choice, we can and should agree that America is big enough for people who believe different things about that choice — that government taking away your right to earn a living is way too big and way too unnecessary a penalty to pay for being a gay-marriage dissenter.
This isn’t Jim Crow’s America. There isn’t an army of corporations and powerful business people seeking to keep the gay man down. Quite the opposite. We now find the Chamber of Commerce doing the Left’s dirty work in opposing any kind of conscience protections for gay-marriage dissenters.
#related#John Kasich claims to stand for the little guy, for the oppressed. But he is earning mainstream-media applause for twisting the truth about the people who are really standing up, with courage and decency, for what he claims to believe is right.
I know Kasich is so far down in the polls that there was little reason for one of the other candidates to take up the gauntlet he threw down.
But I wish they would. I wish somebody would.
To win this fight, we need a champion who puts the face of the victim before the American people, with love and courage.