President-Elect Donald Trump announced his child care tax deduction plan back in September, prior to the election. Not everyone heard the news then, and some folks have begun to rethink their vote (for the Big D and Her) based on what that means. The question for today is: What DOES it mean? Isn’t there already a tax code that gives Americans a benefit if they pay child care?
The short answer is yes. Why, yes, there is.
Trump’s new plan will cost some hard-working Americans dearly. Before we jump on the often-powerful words, “Tax Deduction,” it’s important to understand exactly what we’re talking about.
A friend and I have been talking a little bit lately, post-election. She supported Donald Trump and has been, throughout our friendship, a non-fan of our current President. She was worried initially, probably based on my own behaviors and commentary, that I would no longer want to be her friend. Our friendship survives, some might say, because of our right of freedom of speech in this country.
They would be incorrect. Our friendship will survive because it runs deeper than panic and politics. Free speech has nothing to do with it, because posting on this blog, posting on my Facebook account, and posting on Twitter, or any other social media platform has nothing to with the free speech guaranteed in the US Constitution.
Recently, Twitter deleted the accounts of some rabid Alt-Right users because of their hate speech. The victims of this cleansing are crying foul, stating that their rights of free speech are being attacked. They even compared the actions to the Night of the Long Knives when a great many outspoken opponents to Hitler’s rising regime were stabbed and killed in a single, coordinated night-time attack.
What’s the word I’m looking for here? Oh, yes… Balderdash.
I think it’s time for another lesson on the First Amendment. Amendment number one of the US Constitution gives certain rights to the American people. Click on the "Read More" link to read the text, so you can see it for yourself. I’ll wait.
Alt-right in the White House?
Today’s developments in Trumpland fall under the heading of “Are You Kidding me!”
As the PEOTUS works hard to transition himself into one of the highest offices in the free world, he has appointed Steven Bannon as his High Chancellor. Sorry, his Chief Strategist and Senior Advisor. Let’s break that down, shall we?
President Obama's Affordable Care Act is in jeopardy at the hands of our newly-elected Obama replacement. President-Elect Trump has vowed numerous times to get rid of the "disaster" that is "Obamacare." He has made several outlined points on his website that attempt to describe what he'd replace the Affordable Care Act with. Here's some information about what he's talking about: (Items in bold are his objectives according to his website at the time of publication.)
While listening to NPR this morning, I heard a snippet regarding the Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis, who was jailed this week for Contempt of Court charges as she has continually refused to issue marriage licenses. Rather than issue marriage licenses to gay or lesbian couples, she ordered her staff to stop issuing licenses to anyone, in fact. She is currently defending herself in a lawsuit filed by gay and straight couples. A judge in that case ordered her to resume issuing licenses and when she took the matter to the SCOTUS, the justices refused to issue a stay of that order. She must issue licenses.
She didn't. She's in jail now.
For the first time since the case broke, we've heard from her husband. I don't know his name. Let's just call him Four. (He is her fourth marriage, after all.)
On the radio today, I heard Four say something to the effect of the following. I don't have the exact quote, so I'm paraphrasing here:
We don't hate gay people. We love gay people. We just want the same rights that they have. They want us to accept their lifestyle, but they are refusing to accept ours.
Wait. What? We want him, and by extension and by law, his wife, to accept our gayness?
Hold the phone. We most certainly do not. At least, I don't. I don't care one iota whether he, his wife, their dog, or anyone else on this planet “accepts” me.
Bakers can not accept me.
Preachers can not accept me.
Librarians, teachers, poets, horse whisperers, circus clowns, presidential candidates, and chief bottle washers can not accept me.
But that doesn't mean they can discriminate against me. That doesn't mean they can get away with not doing their job, in the secular world, and discriminate against me.
Kim Davis doesn't have to like me or my wife to issue a marriage license. She doesn't have to like anyone to issue a marriage license. But if two people present themselves to her office with all of the required information needed to apply for a legal marriage license, and they are not prohibited by law from getting married, she must issue the license.
She doesn't have to like it. She just has to do it.
As for Four, he's just got it all kinds of backwards.
[On a side note, please don't be fooled that she didn't want to go to jail. This is exactly the martyr the extreme religious right has been hoping for. She'll be fine, even if she is removed from office. She'll probably get a book deal with a hefty advance, and if not, the right-wing funding machine will raise several years' salary as she gets used to wearing stripes.]
The American Family Association, with a bait-clicky headline, has made known their disapproval of TLCs decision to cancel the hit show "19 Kids and Counting." They indicate in their recent Facebook posting that the network has "trade[d]" the reality show about the quiverfull Arkansas family for a program about a transgender girl named Jazz Jennings.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
First and Foremost - Not a "Trade"
Jazz Jennings, a transgender girl whose wise and informed (or willing to learn, anyway) parents permitted and encouraged her to live life as her true self from the age of 2 years, is no stranger to the public limelight. This brave young woman has been featured in documentary specials, appeared on talk shows, and shared her story with Barbara Walters on 20/20 in the past. She signed a deal with TLC for her own reality show, debuting in August 2015, in March of this year.
The allegations against Josh Dugger, since confirmed by the Duggar family, that he committed sex crimes against and number of younger girls, including at least two of his sisters, did not come to public light until May of this year. The last time I checked, March comes before May in the standard calendar.
TLC had planned to air both "All That Jazz" and "19 Kids and Counting" in the same lineup. They air a wide variety of shows, from toddling tiaras to hillbillies with attitude. Fitting Jazz into the lineup really wasn't an issue for them.
To Hypocrite or Not to Hypocrite - That is the Question
The author of the article goes on to say that punishing the entire Duggar family for the actions of one family member doesn't seem reasonable. Does it escape her attention that TLC isn't punishing anyone? They are looking out for their bottom line. You know, the one with all the dollar signs. The public outcry against parents, JimBob and Michelle Duggar, was the result of their hypocrisy on several levels. The viewers weren't in the mood to watch anymore.
The Duggars portrayed themselves as the perfect parents. In fact, their first television special centered around Michelle receiving the Mother of the Year Award from the Governor's Office in Arkansas. Fifteen kids (and counting) and she was still the best damn mom in the state! How does she do it? How does she keep everything organized and, Holy Cow Batman, she home schools all those kids! She keeps the house clean, and the larder full with dozens of shopping carts in a single trip to the supermarket. The kids all wear clean, second-hand clothing, and...
...and she keeps them all safe...
<Insert crickets here.>
No, she didn't. She didn't keep all of her children safe because two of her daughters were being abused by their older brother.
Fast-forward and few years, a few more babies, and we find ourselves listening to a robocall Michelle Duggar recorded for the sole purpose of repealing a non-discrimination ordinance in her hometown. The city council had passed a law protecting LGBT folks from being discriminated against in the public square and Michelle and her husband found it deplorable. They [they, because Michelle does nothing without the permission of her husband] told people via telephone recording that this law would allow rapists and child molesters disguised as women to watch their daughters change clothes at the local pool, or go to the bathroom in public restrooms.
Nevermind the fact that if a rapist or child molester had such intentions, they would do so anyway, regardless of whether a city ordinance "allowed" them in those facilities, a transgender woman is not a child molester. A transgender woman is not a rapist.
Even more appalling is the fact that Michelle Duggar made this recording and incited this fear and hatred knowing full well that her own non-transgender son was, in fact, a child molester; both incestuous and non-familial.
That, my dear reader, is a hypocrite. That, my dear reader, is why their show was cancelled. Because the average viewer just couldn't take that level of hypocrisy. Had the Duggars created a television spectacle about raising a quiverfull of kids, making ends meet without going into debt, and healing their family from familial sexual abuse, they would still be on the air. Had they been honest from the beginning, none of this would be an issue for them.
And from a bottom-line-dollar-sign point of view, TLC would have still made a mint.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Jazz Jennings and her family, at least as far as we know, have been nothing but forthcoming. They don't paint a rosy picture of raising a transgender daughter. They don't sugar-coat anything. They have discussed the concerns they had when Jazz was younger, and even now Jazz is perfectly honest that being transgender isn't some glamorous foray into sequin gowns and makeup tips. She's a teenager now and at a time when she should be writing in her diary about her first crush, she is telling the world how damn-near impossible it will be for her date anyone; because the boys are afraid someone will think they are gay.
The author of the AFA blog entry seems to think that TLC has chosen to highlight a confused, physically abused "boy" who is suffering emotionally because of the abuse "his" parents have heaped on "him." Why? Because Jazz has been honest about the issues she faces as a transgender girl.
So, to the AFA, I say, "Shame on you." Shame on you for promoting dishonesty despite your very "Christian" platform. Shame on you for refusing to recognize the very real issues facing our transgender citizens and their struggle. Shame on you for making my daughter's life that much more difficult.
And thank you Jazz and TLC for making the lives of the people you will touch so much better.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The above words are crucial to life in the United States. The First Amendment encompasses some of the most basic tenets of our society, ranking right up there with a freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness.
Recent events, including and perhaps most obviously the Supreme Court decision establishing a legal right for same sex couples to marry on equal footing with opposite sex couples, have made many right-wing Christian fundamentalists fearful of what the implications might be. Take for example the case of Sweet Cakes by Melissa wherein a bakery in Oregon refused to provide an established service (making a wedding cake) for a lesbian couple based solely on the fact that the customers were lesbians who wanted to legally marry. The couple in question reported this violation of the law to the state's reporting agency and ultimately Aaron and Melissa Klein were fined $135K because of the humiliation and retribution the Kleins imposed on those customers. (Don't worry about them too much - they aren't out of business according to their website and they have raised more than double that amount in various fund-raising schemes.)
Photographers, bakers, officiants and other wedding service providers are terrified (hence the word "homophobia") that gay marriage will ruin their livelihoods. They want laws to establish their rights to conduct business in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs, which aren't really biblical. But let's assume for a moment that they are biblical; that somewhere in the Holy Bible it really does say that people who want to go to heaven can't take pictures of or bake cakes for gay people when they want to get married. We can take that a step further, really, and say that furniture salespeople who want to go to heaven can't sell a gay person a bed. A car salesman can't sell a car with a backseat to a gay person, because we all know what happens when sinners own back seats.
There are two basic questions to ask before we should even consider passing laws to "protect" the rights of the aforementioned homophobes. (Remember: homophobia is the irrational fear of gay people or gay sin - it doesn't say anything about hatred, although hatred can go hand-in-hand with homophobia.)
Question No. 1 - Is it necessary to pass a law protecting religious liberty, or is it already protected in the US Constitution?
According to the First Amendment of the US Constitution, the government shall make no laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion. This means that you can worship as you see fit, within the confines of the law. If your religion says that you must sacrifice a human every other full moon, we're going to have problems. But going to church on Sunday, smearing ashes on your forehead one Wednesday each year, drinking wine when you're 7 years old, or serving a two-year mission to proselytize for your faith are all protected. You are free to knock on all the doors you want.
What you aren't free to do is break laws regarding discrimination in the public square. The public square, Main Street USA, is for all Americans. It doesn't exist only for Americans "like you." Main Street, USA where you have a gathering of all kinds of people, all kinds of religions, and where the laws have promised to prevent discrimination based on any one of those religions.
There is no need to create a new law protecting religious liberty because you already have it. I already have it. Nobody in this country, the Kleins included, can be prosecuted for a crime when they are merely practicing their religion, until and unless they commit a crime, which intentionally harms another person. Like sacrificing a human or refusing service due to discrimination of a protected class of citizens.
In essence, this part of the US Constitution states that the government will protect me from your religion, and you from mine.
Question No. 2 - Would passing religious liberty laws violate the US Constitution?
The First Amendment of the US Constitution says that the government shall "make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."
This clause does not only say that the government can't establish a religion of its own, although that tenant is included in the meaning; the passage says that the government cannot pass a law that respects one established religion over another.
Do you remember that old movie, "Footloose?" The town pastor's son and a few other kids were killed in a car accident because they'd been partying and the town passed a law, an actual law, against loud popular music and dancing. Why did they pass that law? Because God, according to them, frowned upon it and because it would lead to behaviors that could kill you, not to mention condemn your immortal soul to hell.
That law was, in fact, a violation of the US Constitution. Upon losing his bid to repeal the law, Ren could have swung into his local ACLU office and taken the matter to federal court. The law, for all intents and purposes, respected the establishment of a specific religion and/or the belief structure based on that religion.
The creation of a new law that would make it "legal" for a business owner to refuse service because of his "deeply held religious beliefs" would violate the First Amendment without question.
The Government is not supposed to respect one religion over another, and it should respect all religions as being equal. When it fails to live up to this statute, by allowing laws to go on the books that violate this clause, there is another arm of the Government that comes into play. You see, the Government respects individual citizens more than religion. When our fellow Americans fail to respect the First Amendment, the First Amendment establishes the right to "petition the government for a redress of grievances." Which is exactly what the lesbian couple did when the Kleins discriminated against them illegally.
This is exactly what the plaintiffs in all of the lawsuits for marriage equality did when their respective states passed laws or made state constitutional amendments banning same sex marriage based upon religious beliefs. These laws respected an establishment of religion and it was the Supreme Court's duty to enforce the US Constitution.
Individuals who operate their businesses on Main Street, USA have the religious liberty to worship as they see fit. They also have the secular responsibility to obey the laws in their community. In a secular society, as established by the First Amendment, the rights of the individual supersede the rites of religion as a whole. If you, as a business owner, feel that your immortal soul will be damaged or placed in peril if you obey the laws of the land, it is your responsibility to find another line of work. The alternative, espousing your religion to the harm of your fellow citizens, is never a legal option.
Marriage equality is the law of the land. Since the Supreme Court decision a few weeks ago, it may appear as though we can relax and know that our rights as individuals who love, feel, grow and raise families is protected. Another landmark decision just yesterday in Utah has reinforced that declaration.
Two women, legally married to each other, created a life. They underwent IVF with donated sperm, just like many married hetero couples do when "Daddy" is shooting blanks. When the baby was born, less than a year ago at this writing, the woman who gave birth to the baby was legally her mother. Had the mother's spouse been male, he would have been legally the baby's father regardless of whether his sperm was used in the fertilization procedure.
In this case, since the spouse was female, she was not allowed to have her name on the birth certificate. Instead, she was told she needed to go through the step-parent adoption procedures required of any step-parent who wishes to adopt the offspring of a spouse.
For clarification sake, let's define "step-parent." A step-parent is the spouse of an individual who has children conceived outside of the marital union; traditionally, the children were born prior to the current step-parent relationship. I have four beautiful step-children. My wife has three beautiful step-children. Neither of us claim to be the "legal parent" of the other's children. We are step-mothers. (Only one us is wicked, but you'll have to guess.)
The old law:
The law in Utah concerning the parentage of IVF or fertility treatment babies (in fact any babies born to married hetero couples) assumes that the husband is legally the father of that child. Naturally, since marriage equality didn't exist when the law written, the law refers to the legal "father," to the exclusion of same sex couples.
Because the law states "father" instead of "parent," the office of vital stats in Utah, the people who issue birth and death certificates, refused to recognize the non-birthing mother as a parent.
The two mothers filed a lawsuit to gain parental rights for the non-birthing mother. I've seen at least one posting on Facebook from someone known to me who thinks this is ridiculous because the state didn't say she couldn't be a legal parent, but that she had to go through the procedure to adopt. The writer, who shall remain nameless, had the attitude that these women and the ACLU were making mountains out of molehills. (More on that post in a minute.)
If we look at why they sued, however, we can see that the mountain was quite real, and somebody needed to climb it.
Let's face it, folks. It would have been much easier to simply petition for adoption and let the rubber stampers use their rubber stamps.
So, why did they sue?
Because they had a baby in the exact same way that many other couples have babies. The fact that the non-birthing parent (the one not actually giving birth to the child) is female rather than male is completely irrelevant. The parents are legally married with all of the rights and benefits that come with that territory; parentage of their children shouldn't be any different.
Back to that Facebook post:
Mountains out of molehills. In trying to understand how this person feels about the situation, I found myself perplexed by her logic.
I have tried to wrap my head around it. Giving this individual the benefit of the doubt, I have to assume that she is ignorant of what the case was really about. If that's true for her, then perhaps its true for others. So, let me explain why this particular misinterpretation of the events is so completely off the mark.
She is absolutely right. If/When her husband fathers a child with another woman, she would have no rights beyond step-parent to the child. As she states so eloquently, it is another woman's child. There is no assumption that the author is the mother of the child. If she and her husband are married at the time the baby is conceived, in fact, there is no presumption that he is the father. He would have to either "fail" a paternity test, or admit to fathering the child when named by the baby's mother. If he claimed to be the father, even if the "other woman" doesn't name him, the mother of the child can deny he's the father and he would then have to file a court action to demand a paternity test to legally claim the child as his own.
If she were interested in becoming her husband's offspring's legal parent, she would have to undergo the invasive and often humiliating process of adoption. This could only take place if the child's legal mother no longer had parental rights, either because they were taken away by the state or she placed the baby for adoption.
In the case we're talking about here, this train of thought simply does not apply. The child was conceived because the married couple, who happen to be two women instead of a man and a woman, took the medical steps necessary to conceive. There is no other parent out there who has rights to the child. The birthing mother did not slink off to a bar and create a baby because of too much vodka and not enough latex. (Not that this ever happens to straight mothers, of course.)
Why should these two be exempt from society's rules of process? They shouldn't be. They should be treated exactly the same way as any other legally married couple in the same situation.
This couple wanted to have a baby. They wanted to start their family and because of their foresight and bravery and their sheer unwillingness to be treated as anything "less than," they have changed the way a law in Utah is interpreted. This is why we have civil courts in this county.
"same sex partners [cried] wolf," but because someone at the vital statistics office didn't use common sense. Dare I assume that this individual may have had personal or religious convictions against same sex unions, as well? I certainly have no personal knowledge of this, but it seems as though this might have been a factor. Perhaps the individual charged with creating the vital statistic record is simply a stickler for the "letter of the law," and in this case those letters were F, A, T, H, E, and R.
The law, in this case, wasn't taking care of everyone equally. It wasn't "just fine" and needed to be changed.
The reasons why the records weren't created without a lawsuit, while important, seem less so now. Now, the precedence has been set and the very real wolf at the door has been sent creeping away.
But he'll be back. The wolves are real and plentiful. The fight is not over and we, as a community, still have work to do. It could be as simple as fighting against the proliferation of misunderstanding and neglectful ignorance each and every time we see it.
Brian Brown is at it again. This is certainly no surprise considering that another state – Florida, this time – has joined the ranks of marriage equality. Frankly, he’s ticked about it and in the latest NOM Blog, he says that officials in Florida should “not go along” with the decision of the court. Why? Because the Supreme Court of the United States has already ruled that each state has the right to define marriage for themselves. So there.
“In Windsor v United States, a narrow majority of the US Supreme Court ruled that a federal law defining marriage violated the federal constitution because that law conflicted with the right of states to define marriage. In the particular case, the state of New York had acted to redefine marriage, making it genderless, putting the definition of marriage chosen by New York lawmakers at odds with the federal definition of marriage. This pro states-rights ruling in Windsor has since been twisted by many federal judges, using it to falsely claim that traditional marriage provisions adopted by states are unconstitutional.”
Mr. Brown has grossly misinterpreted what the Justices intended and spun the words used in the majority opinion to his own advantage. I suppose that is to be expected in such a polarized political arena as Brown’s God vs. Everyone Else. But let’s look at this more closely.
Brian Brown’s Opinion of the Opinion
Obviously, based on the quoted excerpt from his most recent blog, Mr. Brown believes that the Supreme Court Justices have ruled that each state can make their own decisions about what defines marriage. He believes this based on the fact that the Supremes stated that the Defense of Marriage Act (at least part of it) was unconstitutional based on the fact that New York had defined marriage not by Mr. Brown’s traditional standard, but to include same-sex couples. Therefore, all states have the sovereign right to define marriage and the federal government needs to stay on their own side of the church pew, thank you very much.
The Truth is A Little Bit Different
The Justices were not asked to decide whether same-sex marriage was constitutional in New York, or in any other state. As of this writing, they have not made a decision whether to hear any case that poses this particular question. (The most recent cases for which any decision has been made includes my home state of Utah, when the Justices declined to hear the state’s appeal and same-sex marriage became the law of the land.)
On the contrary, the question that the Windsor case posed to the SCOTUS was whether the United States Government could or should hold American citizens to a different standard based on gender when it came to marriage. The Defense of Marriage Act was on trial here, not same-sex marriage.
When rendering their decision on Windsor vs. The United States, the Supremes stated that New York (in fact, all states) had the right to define marriage, and as of this writing, they still do; although those rights are being challenged in courts all over the country right now. Because New York had the right to define marriage, and they defined marriage as including same-sex couples through legislation in 2011, the United States government did not have the right to disparage or make unequal any legal marriage in that state. One of the provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act did this very thing by not recognizing for federal benefits any same-sex marriage.
In no way does the Windsor decision make a decision regarding or ratify in any way the veracity of equal marriage bans in any state, including Florida. The Supremes did not decide whether marriage bans were constitutional or not, and nothing they said in the Windsor decision indicates that they did. They simply stated that, as of that decision and for the purposes of the question posed to them, states have the right to define marriage.
As for Florida, and any other state where a lawsuit has risen to the federal appeals court level, their laws can and should be challenged and reviewed by the judicial branch of our government, which was set up as a checks and balances system to prevent one branch from stomping the rights of any citizen. Can "activist judges" make decisions that change the "will of the people" in any given state? Why, yes. Yes, they can. That is their job; it is their duty. That's what they are supposed to do when weighing the constitutionality of laws enacted that might harm citizens.
We shall wait and see whether the Supremes will hear a case that answers the question Mr. Brown anticipates. Perhaps they will. Perhaps they will let the current tide carry the country to full equality. Because of at least one federal judge’s decision to side with Mr. Brown’s definition of marriage, one can harbor some hope that the Justices will agree to hear a case on the matter. In the meantime, equality is the law of the land in Florida, whether Mr. Brown and his followers like it or not.
...or should I say, "The Mark of the Beast on Bryan Fischer?"
Bryan Fischer is the voice of the American Family Association, a think tank that has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. This is the man who told us that homosexuality "gave us Adolf Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews." Now, he says that the Mark of the Beast has arrived on Earth as predicted in the Book of Revelations - and... wait for it... it's all about those gays.
That's right folks... the gay rainbow is the dreaded 666 mark that has been the bane of Christian existence for centuries. And Mr. Fischer has the evidence to back it up, according to his most recent blog.
In his writing, he uses a number of examples for his concern - business leaders and celebrities who have been shunned from the public square and submitted to "re-education camps" to sway their belief in God, presumably. From football players to bakers, free Americans are being forced to worship the anti-Christ in order to earn a buck...
Oh... wait... but they aren't.
In John’s vision, any Christian who does not willingly accept the mark of the beast will not be allowed to buy or to sell. He’ll be fired or won’t be hired or will be drummed out of business entirely.
There have been many depictions of what life might be like should Revelations come to pass in a literal, or even a symbolic sense (as Mr. Fischer would have us believe), but the intent is clear. If you don't bow down and worship the Anti-Christ, you won't eat. You won't pay rent or buy a home. You will live on the street. You will be outcast from society in such a way that your only option for survival, having been abandoned by your all-loving, all-powerful, all-seeing god, is to succumb to the will of the "Evil One." Mr. Fischer would have us believe that this is happening in the lives of many devout Christian business owners and others in the limelight of today's celebrity celebration.
I beg to differ.
The Mark of the Beast, Bryan? Really?
None of the individuals mentioned in Mr. Fischer's comments are unable to "buy" the items they need to survive because they are Christians. None of them are unable to "sell" anything because they are Christians. In fact, they have been encouraged (legally at times) to sell to everyone; to sell more than they were selling before. The caveat here is that they would sell their wares and services to (or have fans who are) gay people. Oh! The Horror! <queue really freaky, but totally straight, music here>
Closing your business because you don't want to risk being faced with baking a "gay" wedding cake in the future or because your legal fees for breaking the law have made your business insolvent is not a restriction to doing business because you aren't "marked" with a rainbow. It is the result of a choice that you made to break the law. It is a result of your choice to no longer be in business. And before anyone argues that point, these individuals made choices to refuse service or engage in hate speech. They could have chosen to bake a fucking amazing cake or kept their mouths shut in the locker room.
I have no issue with anyone choosing their God over the civil laws of the land when it comes to this sort of thing. I have said it before and I'll say it again: I will defend the rights of my fellow Americans to worship as they see fit until my dying breath. If their love of their God- if the worship in which they choose to participate - means they cannot, in good faith and conscience, make a cake, snap a photograph, administer a civil ceremony, change into their football uniform in a locker room, or partake of any other means of earning a living that may place him or her into a position of service or advocacy of those dreaded folks with "the gay," then they are free to choose another line of work. No where in Scripture does it say that, if you choose to break the laws of man, you will be exempt from the punishments of man.
In fact, Scripture tells us that we should obey the laws of man when it comes to business and finances.
13And they send to him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 14And when they were come, they say to him, Master, we know that you are true, and care for no man: for you regard not the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?15Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, Why tempt you me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. 16And they brought it. And he said to them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said to him, Caesar's. 17And Jesus answering said to them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marveled at him.
So what is happening in these verses? Those questioning Jesus' opinion of what's going on the world (after hearing a parable of some violence concerning a wedding that nobody wanted to attend, ironically), the people asked Jesus about whether the Jews should pay tribute or taxes to Rome, or if they should resist, revolt, and not pay.
Jesus did not tell them to refuse to pay tribute. He did not tell them to lay down their lives over something as petty as paying taxes or, I don't know... baking a cake. He knew what would happen to the people if they refused to pay. They would be punished. They would be censured. They might even be killed. (Things were kinda rough back in the bible hood days.)
Interestingly, Jesus was speaking literally when He said to "render to Ceasar the things that are Caesar's..." He said this because Caesar's picture was on the money! It was, quite plainly, Caesar's money to begin with... so give it back to him, right? But symbolically, as the bible is often read today, these words mean so much more. They tell us that there is a break between civil law and God's law. If you break man's law, you must pay man's consequences.
If you break God's law... well, that's between you and God, isn't it?
On a further note, the scriptures here are followed shortly thereafter with a reminder of the instruction from Moses that if a woman's husband dies without an heir (if he dies before his wife has a child), the brother of the dead man should marry her immediately and knock her up, forthwith. He should then raise that child as though the child were the offspring of his brother. You know... parentage by proxy. But yeah... let's stick to the "Biblical" definition of marriage, shall we?
Grandma Tilly is Marjorie Anne Jones Cooke - author, freelance journalist and content writer, wife, mother and grandmother.