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Christian Business Owner Denies Service to Gay Couple in ‘The Good Wife’

In a ripped-from-the-headlines The Good Wife (Michelle King, Robert King, Ridley Scott), the character Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) is thrust in the middle of a case in which a Christian business owner denies service to a gay couple because it conflicts with her religious beliefs.

This scenario brings to mind the recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) signed by Gov. Mike Pence in Indiana and the outcry that ensued. Breitbart News reported:

A Christian-owned pizza parlor in Indiana has come under severe attack from all over the world for saying it would not cater a gay wedding. Reporters have been all over the state of Indiana trying to find a vendor that would use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to decline a gay wedding. They finally found one in a town with only 2,199 residents.

Memories Pizza is an explicitly Christian business, which is probably what drew reporters in the first place. The store is festooned with religious sayings… When approached by a TV reporter, owner Crystal O’Connor said, “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no.”

In the episode of The Good Wife, the head of a conservative think tank, Reece Dipple (Oliver Platt), asks Diane Lockhart to participate in a mock trial in which “two competing freedoms” will be weighed and decided. Where does religious freedom end and anti-discrimination law begin?

“I need a liberal viewpoint… on gay marriage. You’re the Devil’s advocate,” Dipple says, describing the case of the baker and the gay couple, which the baker lost in a state in which gay marriage is legal. Dipple is considering sponsoring the baker’s appeal.

The mock trial poses questions pertinent to the case: What if the baker had refused to make the wedding cake but was happy to provide the couple with a platter of bear claws? Doesn’t this prove she is not discriminating against the couple based on their sexual orientation? No, says Diane. This equates to refusal of service, as the gay couple doesn’t want bear claws. They want a wedding cake.

The last hypothetical examined is that of a wedding planner in the same circumstances. Diane admits that would be an easier appeal for them to win, owing to the degree of time, energy, contacts, and committment a wedding planner would have to invest. Dipple concludes the mock trial, telling Diane he’s decided not to fund the baker’s appeal.

Diane inadvertently provides Dipple the perfect wedge issue against gay marriage, and he takes up the wedding planner’s appeal — not the baker’s.

There is a second mock trial. This time, Diane represents one of the gay couple who sought out the Christian wedding planner and were refused service because, “The Bible is the word of God.”

The judge ultimately asks, “Would religious accommodation frustrate the core purpose of anti-discrimination?” In this case, he decides, it has.

Dipple still intends to fund the appeal. His reasoning? “Three years ago, Barack Obama was against gay marriage. So were Bill Clinton and Hillary. Now they are  for it, because it is politically expedient. I like people who stay true to their moral convictions. And religious accommodation must be made for people who do.”

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