Bush: “People of faith…need the space to act on their conscience”

Watch Jeb Bush defend the little guy here in the fight against the full wrath of gay equality.

Too many insiders have concluded from the Indiana debacle that religious liberty is not a defensible line.  I would say, rather, it is not an easy retreat from supporting gay marriage, it is just the next step in preventing gay rights from being misused to marginalize traditional believers in the public square.

If corporations continue to insist that Republicans fail to defend religious liberty when it conflicts with gay rights, they are going to rip apart the GOP, and they will face the Democrats unhindered and alone. The public square can get to be a pretty naked place when the pro-business party gets slashed in half by siding with those who want to redefine traditional Christians beliefs as the equivalent of racism.

And I continue to be astonished at how strongly, and how commonly and reasonably, Jeb Bush is standing by the little guys of faith in all this.  Of course politics may play a role, but watching him, he doesn’t talk like someone merely trying to appeal to Iowa caucus voters.

He talks like a man who understands a principle and is willing to defend it:

The best example is the florist in Washington state who may lose her business because of this, and has lost a lot because of the cost of all off this. She had a regular customer who came in and she would provide flowers to him and he was going to marry his significant other, asked her to participate as a friend in the wedding to help organize it and she thought about it and say, ‘look, I love you, you’re my friend but I can’t participate, it goes against my conscience.’ A big country, a tolerant country ought to be able to figure out the difference between discriminating someone because of their sexual orientation and not forcing someone to participate in a wedding that they find goes against their moral beliefs. We should be able to figure this out. This should not be this complicated but gosh it is right now.

Yes, it is right now, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.  Bush is not yet saying what he would do to protect our rights. But that is because, in part, the Erick Erickson’s and the David Brody’s of the world are not yet asking him that question, including: Would you support the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act?  Will you vow to pass it in the first 100 days of office?

Meanwhile the Democrats and the big corporations should think hard about the holy war they are inciting by trying to pretend that this is the Jim Crow south.  A few little florists who don’t want to do gay weddings are not a crisis, unless we want them to be.  The threat to strip religious schools and charities of their tax-exempt status is a 500-pound gorilla of government punishment.  Time to end that threat with this election.  In the first 100 days.

A transcript of Bush’s appearance is below:

Jeb Bush: It’s just that people of faith can have their views, it’s that they need the space to act on their conscience. That is what faith is about. The best of our faith, anybody of faith, Christian, Jewish, all faiths, is when people act on their core beliefs in a way to help others or to protect the vulnerable or to do whatever they think is right based on their faith and now that is being attacked. You have Hillary Clinton saying that people of faith kind of need to get over it as it relates to abortion, to put aside their views.We shouldn’t ever let that happen. People out to be able to express their views of faith but also to act on it in the public square.

David Brody: Well, that is curious because this conscience that you talk about, this comes up with the bakers and the florists that we hear all the time about, about the Christian baker, the florist, look this is not about serving a cupcake to someone who’s gay, of course you have to do that, obviously. This is more about the vendor issue as it relates to do they want to provide a service for same-sex weddings. Are you ok if they don’t provide those types of services? Is that ok?

Jeb Bush: Yes, absolutely if it’s based on a religious belief. The best example is the florist in Washington state who may lose her business because of this, and has lost a lot because of the cost of all off this. She had a regular customer who came in and she would provide flowers to him and he was going to marry his significant other, asked her to participate as a friend in the wedding to help organize it and she thought about it and say, ‘look, I love you, you’re my friend but I can’t participate, it goes against my conscience.’ A big country, a tolerant country ought to be able to figure out the difference between discriminating someone because of their sexual orientation and not forcing someone to participate in a wedding that they find goes against their moral beliefs. We should be able to figure this out. This should not be this complicated but gosh it is right now.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.