Mike Huckabee uses Fox News platform to push 'religious liberty' lies

In a twenty-eight page order, the New York State Division of Human Rights lays out every fact pertaining to a business whose owners, Rob and Cynthia Gifford, sought to discriminate against a lesbian couple who approached them about holding their wedding ceremony at the upstate event space the owners operate.  The Human Rights Division leaves no stone unturned in its lengthy order, explaining why the business owners' personal beliefs, no matter how deeply held and personally convicted, do not give them the right to sidestep the in-place laws of the state of New York.  

Here is that order, in full: 

NY Div. of Human Rights order re: Liberty Ridge Farm

Even if one personally disagrees with nondiscrimination laws that apply to LGBT people, there is no way an objective reader can consider the above document to be anything but a very straightforward rundown of very practical facts.  The fact of the matter is that New York state has chosen to implement a robust human rights law that does consider discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to be a problem that deserves to be tackled.  The law has very clear guidelines about what constitutes a public accommodation and what these public accommodations must agree to if they wish to operate a business for "all comers" in the Empire State. When the Giffords entered the market, they entered into an agreement to follow the state's human rights law.

But leave it to Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who is basically a professional merchant of anti-LGBT myths at this point, to use his Fox News television show to put out pure and utter misinformation that neglects to rationally consider anything the NY State Division of Human Rights actually said, instead raising his and the business owners' own personal detestation for same-sex marriage above the facts at hand.  It's just a train wreck of lies presented as "news":

Let's start with the illusion, which conservative media keeps repeating, that this farm was little more than a backyard that the Giffords sometimes open up for commerce.  This is an abject (and deliberate) mischaracterization meant to make the application of law look targeted.  The truth, which is laid out in full in the above order, is that the Giffords have long run and marketed a public accommodation that sells wedding packages to the public.  Just because it has "farm" in the name doesn't make it on par with Old McDonald's personal garden.  Pepperidge Farm and Knot's Berry Farm also have "farm" in their business names; so what?

Then let's move on to Cynthia Giffords' claim that the Human Rights Division never considered their "freedom of religion."  Again, this is a lie.  The state very much considered the Giffords' personal convictions—the state just told them that they don't have this made-up right to exalt their faith-driven desire to discriminate above the fair practices that they agreed to when they chose to become a for-profit public accommodation.  The Human Rights Division makes a point of noting how the Giffords wanted selective application of this supposed "religious freedom," putting faith tests onto gay couples that they do not put on opposite-sex duos who seek their services.  So they absolutely considered the religion aspect—they just rejected the notion that business owners have a right to arbitrarily flout and/or unfairly apply policies, so long as they say "but my faith told me to."  

And what about the idea that they had events that included gay people but "drew the line" at a wedding?  Again, this is in every way irrelevant. The Giffords marketed their wedding services, in a state with marriage equality, as being open to anyone and everyone who was interested.  Yet when the lesbian couple sought to solemnize their just-as-legal wedding at this supposedly available wedding venue, they were told that they were not as welcome as their heterosexual peers.  It doesn't matter if Liberty Ridge held twenty rainbow-filled coming out parties the week before.  What matters if that the business owners chose to selectively shut out a pair of customers simply because of those customers' sexual orientations.  You cannot do this. Again, you might personally hate that you cannot do this.  But when you choose to do commerce in an area, you agree to follow that area's laws.  Period.  End of story.

But the reason why it's not the end of story is because you have a conservative media enterprise that makes it a job to put out misinformation in the name of false debate and fake victimization. Even though it's the Giffords who asserted a legally untenable "right" to make money off of the public while putting themselves above policies that were put in place precisely to protect the public, misinformation merchants like Mike Huckabee are unscrupulous about turning these, the chosen discriminators, into the supposed "victims."  And rather than do what any reasoned host would do and explain to his audience what the order actually says in order to elucidate why this case was decided the way that it was, Huckabee does what pretty much the whole of the far-right media does at this point: he tells them what he wants them to believe in order to do the anti-LGBT movement's political bidding.  And Mr. Huckabee tells you exactly why in his closing line of this segment: because he wants Americans to believe that LGBT Americans' simple request to be treated decently by their fellow citizens constitutes religious liberty being "under assault."  The only way for him to sell that lie, in the face of the clear facts, is for him—and the Giffords and the ADF attorney and all other anti-LGBT political operatives—to pretend the facts are something other than what they are. It's disgusting, frankly.  

When future generations look back on the anti-LGBT politics of our time, there will be plenty of shame to go around.  While the bulk will go to the hostile ideas that turned a minority population into some sort of national threat, campaigns that twisted our rights into some sort of social ill, and a movement that insisted our drive for basic respect is nothing short of  a "culture war," there will be an undercurrent of shame reserved for the truly anti-intellectual way a media class that has every reason to know better made the clear and obvious choice to mislead rather than inform.