Chris Douglas

Thoughts on Those Cookies...

Filed By Chris Douglas | October 13, 2010 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: anti-gay bigotry, human rights ordinance, indianapolis, Just Cookies, LGBT

Here's my perspective on the cookie situation.

cookies-small.jpgFirst, when I came out of the closet in 1996 here in Indiana, I did so publicly by founding an organization (the Indiana Chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans), issuing a press release, and agreeing to interviews from the Indianapolis Star and the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. (At the time, there was no Democratic organization.) At the time, I was in management of a company in a small town and imagined that I risked my job in that act. I was right; shortly after the article appeared on the front page in Fort Wayne, I was fired. To put that in perspective, I had the job I always wanted, and a massive business school debt to pay off. That I expected it did not make it less devastating.

In Indiana, everywhere but in a few places, including Indianapolis, Lafayette, and Bloomington, it remains perfectly legal to say "You are gay and you are fired," or to deny a gay couple an apartment, or (as happened to me and a friend in a jazz club in Fort Wayne) to say "We are not going to wait upon you." As somebody who had the leverage in life associated with a strong education and a loving family, I joined others in the determination that we needed to do something to improve the situation for other decent law-abiding LGBT citizens in Indiana.

The first thing that we felt it was necessary to do was to establish the principle of nondiscrimination, which in Indiana at the time barely existed for us. But we knew that the vast majority of Hoosiers supported nondiscrimination, even if laws and public policies did not yet reflect. We began establishing the necessary precedents, first through efforts to get public officials to issue nondiscrimiation statements, and then to use support and precedent of these officials to achieve the inclusion of our community in human rights ordinances and civil rights codes.

At the same time, there was a court-centered attempt to achieve recognition of our marriages. Many of us took practical issue with the attempt to achieve these changes in the courthouse, rather than in the court of public opinion. It was not for lack of principle; it was reality. We believed that in the absence of a legally established principle that we needed to be treated with equanamity, the support for recognition of our relationships would be inadequate.

To help readers understand this, I observe that when the Indiana Civil Liberties Union filed its lawsuit for marriage on behalf of same sex couples a decade ago or so, even the most radical of activists here in Indiana went berserk against the ICLU. I remember the meeting vividly, for it was none other than Marla Stevens who shouted frantically and at the top of her voice at the frozen and somewhat stunned representatives of the ICLU. Marla predicted, at a time when sophisticated people found it impossible to imagine, that the ICLU's case and efforts like it would not only fail, but would create tidal public backlash that would produce Constitutional amendments across the U.S.

On legal principle, the lawyers were right. But on the reality, Marla was right. The attempt to work marriage through the courts was not only a failure, but it blew apart and set back the efforts in Indiana to focus on nondiscrimination by years.

But a broad coalition did continue to push forward, every constituent member acting in important ways. With the election of Scott Keller, the political landscape was shaken up in Indianapolis sufficient to enable Jackie Nytes and Scott Keller working together, with broad and multi-pronged community support, to get the HRO in Indianapolis amended to incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity. Now, it is illegal in Indianapolis to fire someone, deny them housing, or refuse to serve them based on either of these two characteristics.

But Indianapolis is only a precedent. As we all know, life in Indianapolis is good. We have a thriving GLBT community, integral to the city's neighborhood, cultural, and political life. Our problems are not in Indianapolis; they are in places like Greensburg, Seymour, and other towns and communities where gay and transgender citizens are so isolated as to be desperate, frightened, afraid for their families and their livelihoods. These are the citizens in need of increased protection. The recent suicide in Greensburg is significant only because publicity descended upon it. Suicides, harrassment, fear.... this is all too common in Indiana where no protections exist whatsoever.

In my opinion, the incident at the bakery must be understood in this context. I know how it is to become incensed when treated unequally, and so I feel for the students. But while disappointing, in my opinion, the attempt to leverage the HRO against the bakery constitutes a grave threat to our ability to achieve progress in Indiana.

First, a refusal to put icing on cupcake for National Coming Out Day is not a good cause celebre in my opinion. To the contrary, many small business owners (including me) are taxed as if their businesses and their personal lives are one in the same, because they are. Their businesses are their identities, and what they support with their products and their advertising are expressions of who they are. It was my business that was the first mainstream business to appear at Indianapolis Pride event in 2000 and that founded and funded the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce. Even I, a gay businessman, rebel at the idea that someone could force me to supply National Coming Out Day, a political project of HRC, a 501c4, if I don't want to. I rebel at the precedent that says a small business owner is compelled to support any political project with which he or she disagrees.

But even if I did not personally rebel, I submit that the vast majority of small business owners would. Rather than supporting the HRO, business would have vigorously opposed it if it understood that this application of it was possible.

Which takes me to my second point. We here in Indianapolis may not think it a problem that the City County Council would not have passed the HRO if this application had been contemplated. After all, the HRO is in place, and what difference does it make? To us, none. But if the commission rules in favor of IUPUI, it will be the last HRO passed in Indiana, and it will destroy prospects to amend the civil rights code. Rest assured that our good friends at the "Family" associations and institutes will hoist Mr. Stockton on their shoulders and carry him triumphally to the Statehouse to testify as to how the HRO forced him to support a political political project with which he disagreed. All but our most stalwart allies will disappear into the hills. (Indeed, they could very well press for, and possibly succeed in, invalidating our HRO coverage through the state legislature.)

And if the Commission rules in favor of IUPUI, Stockton will be carried to every community in which we press for local HRO's to include us, where it has already been terribly difficult, and the tape which I hear exists of a confrontation with Lilly Stockton will be offered. And what little courage we have managed to muster among our supporters will evaporate.

For this reason, I believe firmly that our opposition prays (so to speak) fervently for Commission to rule for IUPUI, for they know that in this interpretation of the HRO would the destruction of progress for us in broadening the coverage of nondiscrimination policies in Indiana. In the eyes of our opposition, they know they stand here a chance of giving up meaningless frosted cupcakes in return for our giving up a chance to get employment, housing, and public accommodation protections in place beyond Indianapolis and a few academic communities. For them it will be a good trade; for us, a disaster.

I am reminded of that room so many years ago in which Marla Stevens beseeched our allies to drop their case, telling them of the future. I didn't understand why she was so angry. I do now.

Without Scott Keller and Jackie Nytes, there would be no HRO coverage for us in Indianapolis. Their courage, character, and compassion produced this significant step forward. I suggest to everyone that those two understand the politics of this matter thoroughly, and what this interpretation of the HRO will do to the GLBT community beyond Indianapolis. Acting in our interests, without regard to their personal popularity, they have both now had heaps of personal abuse upon them from our community. While I appreciate the passion for the cause, which I share, I urge that some respect be accorded the two people without whom we here in Indianapolis would have nothing.

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Keller, Nytes, and Indiana Equality have sold us down the river in an attempt to mollify the religious right - the very group that the HRO is intended to protect us from. It's a sad sad day when IE has been reduced to standing up for the homophobes, opposing national employment right legislation, and refuses to fight for marriage equality. The group is a sham and compared LGBT people to the Aryan Nation in the op-ed run in the Indianapolis Star.

They should be immediately disbanded and a new organization formed from the ashes. All three deserve the criticism given this decision - which flies in the face of all other national gains - and trying to paint it as "heaps of personal abuse" is yet another right wing trick. If IE would stop emulating the very people they claim to oppose, Indiana's LGBT community might actually get somewhere.

People have a right to be angry. All three "champions" just endorsed discrimination and have rendered all the other HROs meaningless now that anyone can claim being gay is a political affiliation.

This is the height of stupidity.

I will agree, Chris, that this isn't the best test case for the HRO. Besides the fact that there's no substantive harm (they got their cupcakes in the end, and one could argue that eating cupcakes is a harm in an of itself...) and it's hard to talk about without laughing. Cupcakes. With rainbows. It's too funny.

But it seems to me that all the people who are saying that the HRO doesn't apply here have different reasons and maybe people on your side of the argument should get together and coordinate instead of saying "I agree with the others, but here are my completely different reasons...." It makes it seem like no one really finds anyone else's reasoning convincing and they're just working backwards from the utterly silliness of this whole situation and trying to come up with some sort of reasoning to let the Stocktons off the hook.

The Stocktons said they didn't serve because because they have "family values" and "two daughters," after they admitted to having lied about not having the right colors, not doing cupcakes, and not having enough time to prepare the order. So they already moved from one excuse to another.

Nytes, et al., argued that the HRO does apply because coming out is a political act and no one has to support a political act according to the HRO. How the HRO could apply to sexual orientation if it doesn't also cover coming out is a question they didn't answer, and Nytes explained later that what she really meant was that the HRO doesn't apply to "good businesses."

And you're arguing backlash. Probably the most convincing of all the various defenses of the Stocktons, but not one that they advanced at all. You say:

But even if I did not personally rebel, I submit that the vast majority of small business owners would. Rather than supporting the HRO, business would have vigorously opposed it if it understood that this application of it was possible.

Where does that reasoning end? All businesses oppose any and all rules that limit their choices. Any rule that protects consumers and customers is opposed by businesses (unless they think there's no way out of it, then they attempt to water it down), so the only solution to the problem you pose is to simply let businesses do whatever they want.

I disagree. Businesses aren't just a form of self-expression as you posit. They participate in our public economy and have responsibilities to the community. While the owners of businesses would love it if the business only served their needs, we really can't live in a society where they divorce themselves from the community except for when they want people's money.

It's a position of power and with power comes responsibility. Perhaps the punishment doesn't fit the crime (if HRO prescribes taking their business space away) and that's a debate worth having. We can't just accept that laws can't be passed if they benefit people generally but are opposed by "the vast majority of small business owners."

DaveinNorthridge | October 13, 2010 11:55 AM

And now, perhaps, it's clear that agitating for full equality, even if the test case has been same-sex marriage, is essential to making our lives better?

Very simple. If you object to the bakery's bigotry, don't shop there. Tell your friends not to shop there too. Accept the fact that the professional gay people (IE) in Indiana don't know what they're doing.

Tempest in a teapot.

So, Chris, we're supposed to step aside, and let Jackie and Scott speak for us on this issue?

No thanks. I don't agree with them. Not even CLOSE. I'm not angry at them--don't mistake process questions for personal acrimony. I am deeply appreciative of all the work everyone did on the HRO. And legislative authors, in every branch of govt., often don't get their intent implemented on the policy side.

Reasonable and smart folks can disagree on policy implementation.

What then?

I'm aware, as you are, that the letter-writing issue was a solid attempt to do the right thing. Nobody disputes that. For me, it flopped.

Nobody was hanging on with baited breath to hear anyone's opinion on the issue, especially while a city investigation is underway.

So there are two issues: the letter itself, and the timing.

It's interesting that a brand-new fringe group of a half-dozen or less activists, swooped into the fray and got as much press (good or bad) as IE and others. I think that says a whole lot.


With all due respect, arguing that standing up for our rights will inevitably cause a backlash against the gay community, to me seems like telling Rosa Parks to just shut up & go to the back of the bus.

Patience hasn't worked out too well for us; it's coming out to people, letting them know who we are, that moves social change. And if that means assembling a rally to let people know we're being discriminated against, so be it.

Cupcakes may seem like a bad choice for a rallying point, but think--where will it end? Tacos, sushi, that cool Tapas restaurant...the mind reels...

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | October 13, 2010 5:07 PM

The specific problem here is that National Coming Out Day is a political project of the Human Rights Campaign, a 501c4, an annual event designed (according to the website) to promote political and social change.

The authors of the letter are not comparing gays to the Aryan Nations... what they are saying is that what goes around comes around. If the HRO is interpreted to mean that a business not only must not discriminate against a customer based on their immutable characteristics, but it must support any political project associated with that the customer, then a jewish printing business must supply an anti-jewish banner for a march of the Aryan Nations just because the person placing the order is Aryan. Or do we now want the government deciding what messages private businesses do or do not have to support?

You may feel that is appropriate (I do not), but it doesn't matter. Hoosier businesses, even our allies, will not generally agree to forfeit control over their product's messaging. If that's how the HRO is interpreted, we're through in the rest of Indiana.

By the way, I saw somewhere (and I may be wrong) that the individual (female) who placed this particular order by phone was quoted as referring to a boyfriend, which if true implies that it truly wasn't the sexual orientation of the customer prompting the decline.

Whatever, I do interpret this flap as being the luxury of Indianapolis to pursue at the expense of other localities and citizens. I'm worried about the folks in the small town in Indiana who wouldn't dream of asking for a rainbow cookie because of the fear of the consequences of outing themselves. If we win this kerfuffle, (and I hope we do not) we will seriously set back our ability to render aid to those folks through the enactment of HROs and civil rights code amendments that would truly benefit their lives, for today, we don't even have to be let in the door in restaurants in most of Indiana. THAT's the problem I credit IE with working to correct.

In my opinion, IUPUI needs to absorb the unpleasant fact that they now stand to torpedo progress in Indiana if they press their point ... all over special order rainbow cupcakes for a political event. IUPUI may nor may not prevail with the Commission, but if their School of Social Justice is at all serious about teaching their students what it really takes to achieve progress, they need understand that ignoring the politics of progress is no way to achieve Social Justice. To the contrary.

The complaint presently before the commission is a high caliber loaded gun in the hands of our opponents pointed at us.

The specific problem here is that National Coming Out Day is a political project of the Human Rights Campaign, a 501c4, an annual event designed (according to the website) to promote political and social change.

It's not. It was started at the 1987 march on washington and was a response to the HIV epidemic. It's celebrated in other countries (including France, of all places). It may be promoted by HRC, but they don't own it.

The authors of the letter are not comparing gays to the Aryan Nations...

I think they chose that particularly inflammatory comparison in order to make a point, yes, and maybe they could have avoided that loaded comparison? Just for politeness sake, maybe?

Either way, their point is lost considering Lilly Stockton said that they didn't know the cupcakes were for coming out day. They thought they were for gays, generally. The whole coming out day thing is just a red herring made up after the fact to excuse their behavior.

If we win this kerfuffle, (and I hope we do not) we will seriously set back our ability to render aid to those folks through the enactment of HROs and civil rights code amendments that would truly benefit their lives, for today, we don't even have to be let in the door in restaurants in most of Indiana. THAT's the problem I credit IE with working to correct.

Perhaps, but I don't think there'll be a backlash here. It's too stupid. The fact that we also aren't explaining the situation well and are confusing the facts will only help the backlash, it won't stop it.

Plus that wasn't IE's reasoning. Again, you might have a halfway decent argument, but it wasn't theirs and it's disingenuous to say that IE is working to solve that problem.

The commission should dispassionately examine the facts of the situation. If we're worried about the right fear-mongering on this, we should stop because they'll do it no matter how the commission decides. Seriously, the American right is still using that example of that one Fred Phelps-esque guy who was arrested in Sweden under hate speech laws even though he wasn't convicted.

The real test is if LGBT leaders in Indianapolis are able to explain the results afterwards. And the answer there is looking like a solid "no."

Alex, I don't mean to split hairs but I think you both are incorrect. As I remember the original idea for National Coming Out Day originated with The Experience Weekend group shortly after one of its founders, Rob Eichberg, published his book, Coming Out: An Act Of Love. Jean O'Leary of NGLTF also played a founding role. I don't think the original NCOD was directly connected with the HIV/AIDS epidemic because helping people come out to their friends and family was one of the goals of The Experience Weekend seminars from the very beginning. In their worldview, NCOD was a matter of personal development, and its political implications were secondary.

Two of the early Weekend people were Honey Ward and Lynn Sheppod, and I believe that they in particular did a lot of the promotional work in helping Rob Eichberg launch NCOD.

Read what Wikipedia has to say about NCOD [_here_] except that they say it first started in 1988, even though the march mentioned therein was in 1987 (the same march with the massive SCOTUS protest against Bowers on October 13 -- I was there, and on this my memory is quite clear).

In any event, it was not originated by HRC (although I wouldn't be surprised if they try to claim it).

Chris Daley | October 13, 2010 7:06 PM

Oh, Chris, I think you’re convinced that you’re being helpful to the LGBT community. As you’ve stubbornly proven over the last couple of weeks, it is pointless to try help you see the damage you’re causing. However, it is harmful to let your assertions sit unchallenged. In short, as the architect of Saturday’s letter, you’re wrong on the law and the strategy for resolving this situation.

The only political beliefs at question here are those of the owner of the bakery. No court or state agency has found that requiring a business owner to provide services in a nondiscriminatory manner infringes on the business owner’s constitutional rights or forces that owner to “support” a political cause with which the owner disagrees. The only people, prior to you, who have made the claim that nondiscrimination laws do this are anti-gay forces trying to block any protections for our community.

As you were told repeatedly, any nondiscrimination law in the country would be applicable to this situation. IUPUI was asking to buy food for a gay event, not soliciting support for a political agenda. Instead of accepting that fact and building an appropriate strategy off of it (or even reaching out to the national LGBT groups who litigate these statutes for additional input), you proselytized for a misguided, harmful legal position that provides support to homophobic business owners throughout the county and anti-gay forces trying to prevent new ordinances from passing in the very Indiana communities you think you’re helping.

To make matters worse, this tortured legal position was unnecessary. As Rick points out, no overwhelming demand existed for IE board members to take a formal position on the ordinance’s applicability. If you had been acting responsibly, the statement you drafted would have simply ignored the question of the ordinance. Instead, it would have applauded the support the students received, recognized the importance of working with local businesses to overcome differences, and advocated for a mediated solution that kept Just Cookies in the City Market.

In fact, with IE’s connections with the owners of Just Cookies, the mayor’s office, and IUPUI, the organization could have played a vital role in bringing the parties to the table and resolving the issue outside of the complaint process. Instead, you forced IE down a path that has alienated it from many in Indiana’s LGBT community, kneecapped its paid staff and consultants, tarnished its reputation within the national LGBT equality movement, and failed to assist with resolving the underlying issue. Along the way, you’ve damaged Jackie’s hard-earned reputation and, I would imagine, created a completely avoidable scuffle within IE.

This was never a zero sum game, (except inside you own head). Had you been open to input and flexible with fashioning a positive solution to this situation, I think you would have gone a long way toward accomplishing your stated goals and helping to increase IE’s capacity to reach those goals.

I agree with Chris Daley completely on this.

Especially this, "Instead, you forced IE down a path that has alienated it from many in Indiana’s LGBT community, kneecapped its paid staff and consultants, tarnished its reputation within the national LGBT equality movement, and failed to assist with resolving the underlying issue. Along the way, you’ve damaged Jackie’s hard-earned reputation and, I would imagine, created a completely avoidable scuffle within IE."

I am flabbergasted that this is the direction that you have taken this.

Lori Morris

Chris Douglas | October 14, 2010 10:35 AM

Chris, I do agree with you that the opportunity existed, and should have been pursued, to bring parties together. Perhaps that is still possible. But as a result of the complaint, the Stocktons' lawyered up. That substantially reduced the ability of parties to speak reasonably with each other.

To Alex, I observe that business was faster to the table long ago than the political establishment and even the general population. I recall in 2000 the vast majority of Fortune 500 firms had nondiscrimination policies incorporating sexual orientation. Indiana did not, neither an HRO in Indianapolis nor an executive order in the Governor's office. (By the way, it was irony in 2000 that Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York all at the time had laws and executive orders covering gays, and had Republican Governors, but it was a product of the peculiar politics to Indiana that we had 12 years of Democratic Governorship and not even an executive order.)

I founded the Indy Rainbow Chamber, began advertising in the Word (when mainstream businesses were afraid to), participated in the Pride and then sponsored Pride before any mainstream businesses had done either. This was all a way of drawing the gay community together with business and business together with the gay community in order to achieve the support in business in Indiana necessary to protect the community and provide confidence to our allies in government to achieve legislative progress.

Which takes me to my next point. Presently almost everywhere in the United States our fellow citizens have the legal power to deny us employment, housing, and service in public accomodations. That is a fact with which surely Mr. Daley cannot disagree.

In every place, our ability to acheive protection relies 100 PERCENT on persuading our fellow citizens to cede that power. No court anywhere in the U.S. has extended protection against discrimination to any group that is not covered by law, as we today outside of Indianapolis, Bloomington, and West Lafayette (am I missing any?) are not. That is a fact with which surely Mr. Daley would not disagree. (And if there is remote exception, then I would hope it would be understood as exception that proves the rule.)

Today, across Indiana, and indeed across the vast majority of the United States, business owners have the legal power to decline to make a gay-themed product they don't make and don't want to make, let alone to supply a cause they don't support. That is a fact with which surely even Mr. Daley cannot disagree.

In my opinion, our fellow citizens are getting close to agreeing that there is no such thing as a legitimate conscientious objection to a human being of any description, and so they are getting close to ceding the power they currently have to deny us employment, housing, and public accomodation.

But they are not close to agreeing that there is no such thing as (in their view, not mine in this case) a legitimate conscientious objection to a cause. To the contrary, they have the power today across the majority of Indiana and the U.S. to object conscientiously to a cause. If we say that the Human Rights Ordinance strips them of this power, then we may win in Indianapolis, but they will not cede this power anywhere they have not already done so. They will dig in their heels and say no.

Chris may (or may not) be right about how other jursidictions might rule. He has agreed in the past that it is possible to disagree on this point. I observe that Sheila Kennedy, former head of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, characterizes this attempt over the Stocktons as unconstitutional.

But I observe that my concern is not for places in which a Human Rights Ordinance is in force; my concern is for those places in which neither an HRO nor any civil rights protections exist whatsover, and that if this interpretation of the HRO prevails here in Indianapolis, where the HRO barely passed, our fellow citizens in rest of Indiana, whether out of a sense of legitimacy or just spite, will decline to cede the power that they presently have.

Finally, if I take upon myself some of the resentment that has been directed at Jackie & Scott, I am happy to do so. They are people of enormous character and courage, without whom we here in Indianapolis would not have an HRO.

Rick Sutton | October 14, 2010 1:09 PM

Chris, please don't mis-characterize "resentment that has been directed at Jackie and Scott."

I disagree with the letter, and its premise, that's all. I'm entitled--so are others. This "all or nothing" attitude is disheartening, and it must bring joy to our political foes. Scott's and Jackie's work in other areas of HRO, civil rights and related issues, is not only appreciated, it's revered.

And since you brought up cities which don't have an HRO--I've already heard from folks in one of those communities. Some are appalled at the letter. And confused. My sample is neither scientific nor perhaps representative. But someone should've thought about that kind of response when this letter was being composed.

It was all so unnecessary.

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | October 14, 2010 2:57 PM

(Rick, of course I'm referring to Bil's "they sold us down the river" comment. I don't mean to exagerate.)

I recall well when the attempts to pursue marriage in the courts were launched. Overwhelmingly, for understandable reasons, the majority of our community supported those attempts. I did not have strong feelings against them myself, but I noted that the most experienced lgbt hands on both sides of the aisle,were practically apoplectic. Kathy Sarris and Marla Stevens could agree on virtually nothing else, but agreed that the lawsuits would produce movements to amend state constitutions, which movements would likely be successful. Troy Liggett, who has at times and perhaps still had the lowest opinion of my motivations, was equally forceful in his opinion... that the lawsuit in Indiana would create the conditions for the loss of Democratic control in the House of Representatives in the coming election. All were correct, as events proved.

I regret to hear of disappointment and confusion, and I understand it. That does not reduce my observation that the complaint currently in front of the commission if pursued and successful, will prove damaging to already-difficult efforts to win the necessary majority of support which our community must have wherever attempts to broaden coverage to include us are underway, whether in Indiana or in other relatively conservative states.

I submit to you that Jackie Nytes and Scott Keller, the two primary politicians without whom our HRO would not exist, sent the letter to the Star because they knew what was necessary in Indianapolis and what is necessary elsewhere.

Rick Sutton | October 15, 2010 6:54 AM

Thanks, Chris, for what you tried to do. I guess.

It failed. But I don't think anyone purposely tried to muddy the waters.

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | October 15, 2010 10:02 AM

Thank you, Rick. Nothing has failed yet.

For the moment, although I know the community will have a hard time understanding this reality, Indiana Equality has strengthened its credibility for the passage of measures to extend civil rights coverage to gay, lesbian, and transgender in areas where that coverage is presently not available. The broader importance of the letter from the HRO sponsors and Indiana Equality is why Sheila Kennedy, a strong ally, described the letter as brilliant.

But as long as the complaint sits before the commission, we are in a no-win situation. From the perspective of achieving extended coverage for those places that do not currently have it, which will require achieving majority political support where it has already been difficult, a ruling in favor of IUPUI on this case would do tremendous damage. From the perspective of a blow to commumnity morale, and "putting us in our place", a ruling for the Stocktons would be damaging, but still not a setback for the cause of extending coverage elsewhere, given that the Sponsors of the HRO themselves did not envision that it would force a small business owner, whether gay or straight, conservative or liberal, to produce a product they don't want to produce to support a cause they don't want to support.

In my opinion, the greatest good for the larger cause would be for our side to consider standing down and withdrawing the complaint. Then neither a morale-busting defeat for our community nor a progess-busting interpretation of the HRO could ensue. Further, as long as the complaint exists before the commission, and because of its legal nature, which is naturally bristling, and the necessity each side now has of attorneys, I suggest that it is difficult to draw all parties to the table for a candid discussion.

We would acheive the greatest impact on the moderate middle, especially in business, whose support we require for further extension of civil rights protections where today they do not exist. It is counter-intuitive for many, I know, but the advice rendered millenia ago to turn the other cheek when the first has been slapped was not to produces further pain. To the contrary, it was to acheive a superior result.