Fox News Fails To Prove That Marriage Equality Threatens Religious Liberty... Eight Times In A Row

Fox News contributor Erick Erickson attempted to make the case that marriage equality poses a threat to religious freedom, but his only evidence was a list of examples irrelevant to same-sex marriage.

In a March 26 column for, Erickson warned that “gay marriage and religious freedom are incompatible,” adding that marriage equality supporters aim to “punish and silence” those who disagree with them.

To support his claim, Erickson listed a number of examples meant to highlight the conflict between marriage equality and religious liberty. But none of his examples are actually about same-sex marriage. In fact, most of them come from states where same-sex marriage is still illegal, and almost all of the examples pertain to non-discrimination laws, not marriage laws:

Christian photographers Elane Photography in New Mexico were approached by a same sex couple looking to hire a wedding photographer. Elane Photography politely declined citing their Christian faith and were sued by the couple under the state's anti-discriminatory laws, and won.

  • Same-sex marriage wasn't legal in New Mexico at the time. 
  • The photographers violated the state's non-discrimination law, not a marriage law.

In Lexington, Ky., a T-shirt shop called Hands On Originals was approached by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization about printing shirts for the group. The T-shirt company politely declined and even sought out quotes and gave the group referrals to other T-shirt printers, along with comparable prices. They were promptly sued by the group under Lexington's anti-discriminatory laws and forced to comply with a lengthy investigation.

  • Same-sex marriage isn't legal in Kentucky.
  • The company was sued for violating the state's non-discrimination law, not a marriage law. 

A Methodist church in New Jersey was sued for not offering its facility for use during same-sex weddings. A judge ruled against the church.

  • Same-sex marriage isn't legal in New Jersey.
  • The Methodist church violated the requirements of its “Green Acres” tax exemption, which required it to make its facility open to the public. 
  • The church has since replaced the “Green Acres” exemption with an exemption specifically created for religious institutions, allowing it to continue discriminating against gay people.

A same-sex couple from California sued a Hawaiian bed and breakfast privately owned by a Christian woman for not allowing them to rent a room.

  • Same-sex marriage isn't legal in Hawaii.
  • The bed and breakfast violated the state's non-discrimination law, not a marriage law. 

A bed and breakfast in Alton privately owned by a Christian couple was sued when they would not host a same-sex civil union ceremony.

  • Same-sex marriage isn't legal in Illinois.
  • The bed and breakfast violated the state's non-discrimination law, not a marriage law. 

Owners of a small, privately owned inn in Vermont declined to host a same sex wedding reception due to their religious views and were sued.

An employee of Allstate insurance wrote an essay online disagreeing with same-sex marriage and was reportedly fired from his job as a result. 

  • The Allstate employee was fired because of a decision by his private employer, not because of any state laws, and; 
  • Allstate denies allegations that the employee was fired because of his anti-gay essay.

Catholic Charities was barred from assisting in adoptions in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and Illinois and excluded from future contracts because it declined to consider same sex couples.

  • Catholic Charities voluntarily ended its adoption services because it refused to abide by the state's non-discrimination laws, despite having done so in prior years.
  • Catholic Charities can continue to participate in private adoption services, it just can't receive public funding if it continues to violate non-discrimination laws.
  • The former chairman of the board for Catholic Charities of Boston has called Erickson's description “a shameful distortion of what actually happened." 

Despite his posturing, Erickson's concerns aren't really about marriage equality. His real problem seems to be with laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination in the public square, regardless of whether that discrimination is religiously motivated. And considering that he recently stated that gay people are "on the road to hell," it isn't hard to imagine why.