In a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine, tech millionaire turned LGBTQ activist Tim Gill said he’s aiming to punish Christians who don’t want to participate in same-sex weddings.
For more than two decades, the software programmer has poured an estimated $422 million into various gay rights causes. After the Supreme Court ruled gay marriage legal in all 50 states in 2015, Gill turned his attention and resources to targeting Christians.
The election of Donald Trump, who claims to support gay rights but stocked his administration with anti-LGBTQ extremists, has only emboldened those looking to erase the gains of the past decade. Gill refuses to go on the defense. ‘We’re going into the hardest states in the country,’ he says. ‘We’re going to punish the wicked.’
Allow me to add some context. After the Obergefell ruling in 2015, which forced all 50 states to perform same-sex marriages, several state legislatures passed protections to ensure that those who object to participating in a same-sex wedding for religious reasons have recourse when hauled into courts or extralegal commissions for this belief. It’s these state laws that Gill and his various nonprofit entities have decided to go after — and persecute Christians along the way.
Here’s how Rolling Stone — a magazine with a history of throwing journalistic ethics and pesky things like truth and accuracy out the window to advance a narrative that fits their agenda — describes religious freedom restoration acts (RFRA): “Under the guise of right-to-worship protections, these bills offer legal cover for individuals and businesses to deny service or otherwise discriminate against LGBTQ people,” Rolling Stone‘s Andy Kroll wrote.
Except that’s not at all what religious freedom restoration acts are. For one thing, religious Americans still serve gay customers in myriad capacities, just as they do every other customer. Their objections are to being forced to use their artistic talents to proclaim particular speech they find fundamentally false or to be required to participate in a religious ceremony that conflicts with their consciences. As Sean Davis has explained, these laws simply ask that judges use a simple balancing test when ruling on cases involving a person’s religious freedom.
The laws state that the government may only substantially burden the free exercise of religion of a person or organization if the government 1) has a compelling interest to do so, and 2) is using the least restrictive means possible to further that compelling interest. In legal parlance, RFRA requires courts to use strict scrutiny when adjudicating these types of cases.
Nevertheless, asking a judge to think twice before demanding that a baker craft a wedding cake for a lesbian couple and stomping all over his freedom of expression is apparently a wicked deed that Gill intends to punish.
Last year, the Gill Foundation set up a group to wrangle corporate support in going after religious freedom proponents in Georgia. Called “Georgia Prospers,” the fake grassroots effort organized protests against a religious freedom restoration act that passed the state legislature. The pressure from the corporate-backed endeavor dissuaded Georgia’s governor from signing the bill — a victory for the wealthy activist.
The group also opposed North Carolina’s bathroom bill, which barred cities from passing laws that would force businesses to allow customers and employees to use restrooms that are not consistent with their biological sex.
Along the way, Christian business owners have been maligned and demonized for not wanting to participate in a same-sex wedding. In Colorado, a cake baker was forced to change his company’s policies and provide training to staff after he objected to baking a cake for a gay couple. A Christian couple was slapped with a $13,000 fine for refusing to host a same-sex wedding on their property. People threatened to burn a pizza shop to the ground after its owners answered that they would happily serve gay customers, they just wouldn’t want to cater a gay wedding should they be asked to do so.