posted Friday, February 27, 2009 - Volume 37 Issue 09
REPREHENSIBLE CONDUCT NOT ILLEGAL
While we all can sympathize with the rebuke received by Erichsen and Footh at the hands of the organization His Supper Table, it is elemental to civil liberties that the group had the right to do what the did, no matter how ill-mannered and odious.
The First Amendment protects, among other things, the right to freely associate with whom we wish (and thus to be free to not associate with others). The situation described in your article thus really has nothing to do with religious freedom at all. And it certainly is not, as your editor in charge of column-breaks put it, a "Human Rights Gray Area."
The Supreme Court, for example, ruled over a decade ago that the Irish group sponsoring the Boston St. Patrick's Day parade had the right to exclude an Irish GBLT group from marching in the procession. This was despite the involvement of the government (in issuing the parade permit, closing the streets, providing police, cleaning up, etc), because the sponsors had the right to define the message they wished to convey by the event.
An issue currently being faced by the Obama Administration is whether to alter the Bush rules that even when a religious group receives governmental funds to support an activity the group may discriminate by hiring only their own believers. Your article did not indicate that the food program of His Supper Table was supported by government funds, and certainly volunteers have fewer claims on an organization than employees may have.
Not all reprehensible conduct is illegal. We of all people should be mindful of that fact!
THANK YOU FOR SUPPORT
Sorry I'm a little late getting around to this, but I wanted to thank you for your support in helping us get out the info about the Gay Men's Prostate Cancer Support Group. Those who have attended the meetings are appreciative that there is such an outlet available for their support. & We hope to look forward to your continued support. Thanks again.