I am concerned by the efforts of some local legislators to "relax" our country's hard-won civil rights guarantees to accommodate an individual's "freedom of conscience."
We all have freedom of conscience. We can each stand up for what we believe in our hearts and souls to be right. We have many examples in our history of individuals who courageously did just that. (The hosts on the underground railroad come to mind).
However, surely it is of grave concern if an individual's conscience, formed from his unique life experience, is not subject to the democratically determined law of the state. Certainly, a florist can refuse to sell flowers if it violates her sincerely held religious beliefs, but to then exempt her from the penalties for violating civil law would set a dangerous precedent.
If the wedded gay couple need a home, should a property owner be allowed to refuse to rent to them because it violates his conscience? Should a restaurant owner be allowed to refuse to seat them at the lunch counter? Allowing this exercise of "freedom of conscience" has the frightening potential to return us to the egregious abuses of civil rights that were a part of our not-so-distant past.
SARA FLATEN, Richland