By Richard Hack
After all the notoriety garnered by the Supreme Court case involving the bakery shop that wouldn’t craft a cake for a gay wedding in Colorado, now it is Alaska’s turn to get in the news. This time, it’s the Heavenly Creations Florist in the tiny seaside town of Ketchikan–population 8,289–that refused to serve a same-sex couple based on “religious beliefs.”
Though Alaska is known as being conservative, when word reached the residents of this cruise port, they came out in force to protest in front of the shop. And their next stop was their city council to demand a new non-discrimination law be put into place.
The council’s decision in favor of passing a non-discrimination bill was not only unanimous, it went beyond just public businesses and applied to non-discrimination in housing as well. There are now four such bills on the books in far-flung Alaska towns.
Museum curator Ryan McHale testified at the meeting, arguing that religion has been used for far too long to justify discrimination.
“Much like their pro-slavery predecessors, segregationists during the Jim Crow era cited scripture as justification for maintaining racial segregation and inequality,” McHale said.
“There is little that distinguishes the religious freedom claim of today from those of the segregationists who argued that they should not be forced to hire, serve or associate with African Americans or Native Americans.”