Lesbian senator: No religious freedom for people outside of church walls

by Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) (L) celebrates with supporters after a vote to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation banning workplace discrimination against gays, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington Nov. 7, 2013. Baldwin, who was the first openly gay member elected to the Senate, has praised the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing gay marriage nationwide. She said after the decision that business owners who refuse to provide services in support of gay weddings are not protected by religious freedom because its protections don't extend far beyond churches.

WASHINGTN (Christian Examiner) -- Liberal Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin said in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized gay marriage nationwide, that claims of business owners who object to providing services for same-sex marriages on religious grounds are bogus.

Why? Because, according to the senator, religious freedom only extends to religious institutions – not to businesses or individuals working in those businesses.

"Certainly the First Amendment says that in institutions of faith that there is absolute power to, you know, to observe deeply held religious beliefs. I don't think it extends far beyond that," Baldwin said in an MSNBC interview.

"We've seen the set of arguments play out in issues such as access to contraception. Should it be the individual pharmacist whose religious beliefs guides whether a prescription is filled, or in this context, they're talking about expanding this far beyond our churches and synagogues to businesses and individuals across this country. I think there are clear limits that have been set in other contexts and we ought to abide by those in this new context across America."

The Supreme Court disagrees.

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., in 2013, the high court ruled a privately owned business could not be forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs (abortifacients), even though mandated by the Affordable Care Act, when the owner objected on religious grounds.

For Baldwin, the effort remove religious opposition to homosexuality and same-sex marriage is personal. Her biography describes her as the "first openly gay member elected to the Senate."

Baldwin, a rising star among the liberal Democrat elite, said after the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges: "Love is love, family is family, and discriminating against anyone's love, against anyone's family, is simply wrong. America can proudly say that discrimination doesn't just violate our values – it violates our Constitution. And now we can proudly say that marriage equality will be the law of the land."