BLOGFreedom of Conscience Means Ellen DeGeneres Can Disinvite Kim Burrell, But What about Our Clients?

By Sarah Kramer Posted on: | January 06, 2017

This week, Ellen DeGeneres disinvited gospel singer Kim Burrell from appearing on her show, stating that she did not want to give an “anti-gay advocate” that platform.

And you know what, Ellen has every right to do that. On the flip side, Kim Burrell has the right to voice her beliefs about marriage and same-sex relationships.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else? It should. 

It’s the same right performers for the Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir have to express their objections to performing at Donald Trump’s Inauguration. And the right Chip and Joanna Gaines have to believe what the Bible says about marriage (if that is, in fact, what they believe). And the right fashion designer Sophie Theallet has to refrain from using her artistic talents to design clothing for Melania Trump.

It’s also the same right that people like Minnesota filmmakers Carl and Angel Larsen have to decline to create videos celebrating events and speaking messages that conflict with their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Instead of receiving the applause that Ellen, Theallet, and others have heard when they took their stand, however, the Larsens have been met with much public criticism.

If you support Ellen’s right to disinvite Kim Burrell and Theallet’s freedom to decline to create clothes for Melania Trump, then this should deeply concern you.

Why? Because all of these creative professionals have the same constitutional liberty to decline to create or use their artistic talent to promote messages that they consider objectionable.

Yet when the government allows a baker in Colorado to turn down a cake opposing same-sex marriage, but punishes a Christian cake artist who declines to create a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding and forces him to “re-educate” his employees, there is a clear double standard.

Have we really reached the point where those who hold a view that the culture considers unpopular are publicly shamed for doing precisely what others with different views are doing?

That’s not what the Supreme Court intended when it ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges. A decision that requires the states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which Obergefell did, does not in any way require private citizens to create speech celebrating same-sex marriages.

In fact, the Court in Obergefell did not intend to stifle “open and searching debate” on the issue of same-sex marriage. Rather, it intended for private citizens to have the freedom to live consistent with their beliefs on the issue. 

I hope that’s something with which we can all agree. 

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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