Pro­gres­sives pick rights fights based on ide­ol­ogy

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY BRAD­FORD RICHARD­SON

The same peo­ple who want to crack down on Chris­tian bak­ers who de­cline to par­tic­i­pate in same-sex wed­ding cer­e­monies are de­fend­ing the con­science rights of Ra­dio City Rock­ettes dancers who ob­ject to per­form­ing at Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial in­au­gu­ra­tion.

The sud­den about-face has con­ser­va­tives ac­cus­ing lib­er­als of try­ing to have their cake and eat it too.

Dan Gainor, vice pres­i­dent of busi­ness and cul­ture at the Me­dia Re­search Cen­ter, said pro­gres­sives stand up for free­dom of con­science only when it’s a pro­gres­sive con­science on the line.

“It’s ridicu­lously hyp­o­crit­i­cal,” Mr. Gainor said. “They think a pho­tog­ra­pher who would be forced to at­tend a gay wed­ding can be forced to par­tic­i­pate in that cer­e­mony, but they don’t think a Rock­ette — who’s not even a sole busi­ness owner but is ac­tu­ally an em­ployee — can’t be forced to at­tend an event. Talk about ridicu­lous.”

The Rock­ettes sparked a so­cial me­dia mael­strom last week when one dancer took to In­sta­gram to ex­press her dis­plea­sure at the prospect of per­form­ing for Mr. Trump, whom she op­posed in the gen­eral elec­tion.

“Find­ing out that it has been de­cided for us that Rock­ettes will be per­form­ing at the Pres­i­den­tial in­au­gu­ra­tion makes me feel em­bar­rassed and dis­ap­pointed,” the dancer said in the now-deleted post. “The women I work with are in­tel­li­gent and are full of love and the de­ci­sion of per­form­ing for a man that stands for ev­ery­thing we’re against is ap­palling.”

Although the dancers’ union ini­tially said full-time dancers were con­trac­tu­ally ob­li­gated to per­form at the Jan. 20 cer­e­mony, they later reached an agree­ment with Madi­son Square Gar­den Co., which man­ages the fa­mous dance troupe, to make par­tic­i­pa­tion vol­un­tary.

“For a Rock­ette to be con­sid­ered for an event, they must vol­un­tar­ily sign up and are never told they have to per­form at a par­tic­u­lar event, in­clud­ing the in­au­gu­ral,” the com­pany said in a state­ment. “It is al­ways their choice.”

Madi­son Square Gar­den also said more Rock­ettes had vol­un­teered to per­form at the in­au­gu­ra­tion than spots avail­able.

But when the fate of anti-Trump Rock­ettes briefly hung in the bal­ance, those who have im­plored the gov­ern­ment to pun­ish Chris­tian bak­ers, pho­tog­ra­phers and florists were among the first to come to the dancers’ de­fense.

Ge­orge Takei, an out­spo­ken pro­po­nent of gay rights who says Chris­tian ven­dors should be forced to as­sist with same-sex wed­dings, wrote in a tweet that the Rock­ettes had been “Forced to go along with some­thing hor­ri­ble they didn’t choose.”

“I would love to see head­liner per­form­ers turn out for an anti-in­au­gu­ra­tion con­cert,” he said in a sep­a­rate tweet. “Let Trump find no sup­port from artists.”

Paul Feig, who di­rected the 2016 allfe­male re­boot of “Ghost­busters,” said, “No one should be forced to do any­thing against their will, not women or men, whether per­form­ers or not.”

Writ­ing in Bus­tle, Cate Car­rejo said the gov­ern­ment should force Chris­tians to par­tic­i­pate in same-sex wed­ding cer­e­monies but the Rock­ettes should not be ob­li­gated to per­form at the in­au­gu­ra­tion “be­cause one is dis­crim­i­na­tory and the other isn’t.”

“When a same-sex cou­ple walks into a bak­ery and asks for a wed­ding cake, the store owner doesn’t know any­thing about them ex­cept that they are in a same-sex re­la­tion­ship,” Ms. Car­rejo wrote. “Thereby, re­fus­ing to serve them is dis­crim­i­na­tion, be­cause the ba­sis of their be­ing treated dif­fer­ently than any other cus­tomer is just their be­long­ing to a spe­cific group of peo­ple.”

Point­ing to the case of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, an Ore­gon bak­ery that was fined $135,000 and forced to close for re­fus­ing to make a wed­ding cake for a les­bian cou­ple, Mr. Gainor said Chris­tian bak­ers are happy to serve gay peo­ple.

“And that’s dif­fer­ent — it’s a creative la­bor,” Mr. Gainor said. “If you wanted some­thing that was in the shop, help your­self, happy to pro­vide it. But if you want me to be in­volved in your wed­ding, I can’t do that. It’s a very clear line.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Ra­dio City Rock­ettes have more than enough dancers who have vol­un­teered to per­form at Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mony, but one of them has sparked a so­cial me­dia mael­strom by ex­press­ing her op­po­si­tion to the idea.

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