Campaign Released as Texas Lawmaker Introduces Measure to let Business Owners Refuse Service to LGBT Customers if it violates Conscience

CHICAGO – Truth Wins Out announced the launch today of its “Religious Freedom Farce” campaign, to highlight the real-world consequences of bills that purport to protect religious liberty, when in reality they only promote prejudice. The campaign comes on a week that Texas state senator Donna Campbell introduced a measure, Senate Joint Resolution 10, which would let business owners decline service to LGBT customers if serving them would violate their religious worldview.

“This is bigotry disguised as belief,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Our ad campaign hopes to dramatize the real-life consequences if these cynical ‘religious liberty’ bills become law. It will create a slippery slope that harms all minorities. It would return America to its discriminatory past where people were denied public accommodations simply for who they are.”

The first ad in our campaign, “Religious Freedom Café,” created for Truth Wins Out by Chicago-based performance artist Eric Clements and filmmaker Ben Nissen, takes these “religious freedom” bills to their logical conclusion. It focuses on an African American man who is told to leave a restaurant because serving black people is against the owner’s religious beliefs. Truth Wins Out will produce follow up ads, which will appear online, with the potential to be broadcast in the future.

Anti-gay organizations realize that they are on the verge of losing their unholy war against LGBT people. There has been a dramatic change in public opinion, with the majority of Americans supporting marriage equality. It seems that each month, the courts are striking down unconstitutional bans on same-sex marriage. The writing is on the wall so religious extremists are trying to rewrite the rules so they can continue to discriminate without consequence.

These homophobic activists are cynically claiming that their religious liberty is being violated unless they can persecute LGBT people in the workplace and deny them basic services — such as dining at a restaurant or baking a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Although these business owners have opened their doors to the general public, they feel that it violates their conscience if they can’t run their operation like a private country club, picking and choosing whom they work with and serve. They firmly believe their narrow worldview exempts them from obeying civil rights laws that were written to ban discrimination.

However, this radical viewpoint creates a dangerous slippery slope that will tear apart the fabric of society. Once we allow conservative Christians to refuse service to gays – it will only be a matter of time before bigots of all stripes decide their beliefs trump the rights of minorities to receive equal access to public accommodations.

If it is legal to deny baking a cake for a gay wedding based on religious conscience, how could it not also be legal for Christian Identity bakers, who believe God made white people superior, to refuse baking cakes for African American weddings? How could it not be legal for a restaurant to refuse hosting bar mitzvahs because Jews don’t believe in Jesus? Or, maybe service is refused for unmarried couples that are deemed to be “living in sin.”

“When a business is open to the public it is open to everyone,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Once you violate this core American principle, you are headed in an unfortunate direction.”

Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a non-profit organization that works to demolish the very foundation of anti-gay prejudice. Our philosophy is simple: We attack the underpinnings of homophobia by debunking harmful lies, discrediting hateful myths, and countering anti-gay organizations. By chipping away at the underlying ignorance that fuels anti-LGBT attitudes, we can ultimately win our fight for fairness and achieve full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people worldwide.