A businessman in Arlington, Va., is facing a thorny challenge after he made a workplace decision based on his Christian beliefs. The problem: The man’s action has angered a homosexual activist who is making an issue of his decision.
In fact, this week, a suit was filed in Arlington Circuit Court on behalf of businessman Tim Bono and his Bono Film and Video Inc.
Here’s what brought about the need for the suit: A lesbian activist named Lilli M. Vincenz asked Bono to duplicate two documentaries titled, “Gay and Proud” and “Second Largest Minority.” When Bono informed Vincenz that his company does not duplicate material that is obscene, that might embarrass employees or that runs counter to his Christian and ethical values, Vincenz took offense. She quickly filed a complaint with the Arlington County Human Rights Commission under the county’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which includes “sexual orientation.”
She found a sympathetic panel.
In April, the commission directed Bono to “provide the requested duplication service at the complainant’s expense, or in the alternative to assist the complainant in locating a suitable facility where this service can be provided at the Bono Film and Video’s expense.”
Apparently, one’s religious views must be confined to the home and at church, because the commission essentially said that Bono’s religious beliefs – in his own place of business – were infringing on the rights of an individual.
The lawsuit, filed by Liberty Counsel on behalf of Bono, challenges the authority of the commission to order him to provide a service that counters his sincerely held beliefs.
The suit alleges violations of Bono’s freedom of speech, free exercise of religion and sections 12 and 16 of the Virginia Constitution. Further, Liberty Counsel says the state’s “Dillon’s Rule” prohibits local governments from passing or enforcing nondiscrimination laws that are not authorized by the state. (The state does not list “sexual orientation” as a protected civil right or class.)
Erik Stanley, chief counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated: “As a newspaper is not required to run every proposed ad, so a duplicator or printer is not obligated to reproduce every proposed copy. Mr. Bono does not have to reproduce a customer’s hate speech, obscenity or pornography, nor may a customer hijack Mr. Bono’s business and force him to promote a homosexual agenda. The state of Virginia does not recognize ‘sexual orientation’ as a civil right.”
I see this as a very important case.
Should Bono lose his right to decide what takes place in his own business, I wonder where this could end. Could Christian schools lose the right to determine that only Christians may serve as teachers and staff members? Could Christian churches be compelled to hire homosexuals as Sunday school teachers even though homosexuality is proscribed in the Bible? Could religious schools that make use of federal education dollars be penalized if they do not hire homosexual staff members?
I’m sure critics will say these are ludicrous propositions, but I see them as legitimate concerns. Our nation has become so politically correct and obsessed with “diversity” and “multiculturalism” that the core values that defined America for decades have now become offensive to many. When one considers how the Ten Commandments, our nation’s motto and the Pledge of Allegiance have come under attack, it is not farfetched to foresee America’s pulpits becoming the next target of secularist forces.
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