by WorldTribune Staff, November 1, 2018
A foundation funded by the Levi Strauss fortune, which has pumped some $40 million into the effort to legalize same-sex marriage since 2001, has also targeted Christian baker in Colorado who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, reports say.
Having triumphed with the 2015 Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, the foundation founded by Walter Haas Jr., who made his fortune as the longtime CEO and chairman of Levi Strauss & Co., and his wife Evelyn has also gone after after baker Jack Phillips.
The foundation has funneled $500,000 into the case against Phillips, who owns the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, the Catholic News Agency reported.
The foundation gave $400,000 to three activist organizations for educational purposes on the case, $100,000 to the ACLU Foundation for similar efforts, and $34,500 to a group planning a response to the Supreme Court ruling, the report said.
In a 7-2 ruling in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phillips, saying that state penalties levied against Phillips violated his First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion since the regulations were not applied neutrally.
“But the Haas Fund spared no expense in fighting Phillips to the very end and is not backing away despite the ruling,” columnist Joe Schaeffer wrote for LibertyNation.com on Oct. 30. “The foundation has turned its significant financial heft toward thwarting any and all attempts to carve out religious exemptions for individuals who do not want to support homosexuality with their own works.”
A look at the Haas organization’s website shows numerous targeted donations dating back to 2014 aimed at supporting “efforts to ensure that ‘religious liberty’ arguments do not erode gains in marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections.”
Schaeffer noted that Haas foundation president Jennie Lehua Watson acknowledged in June that same-sex marriage was only the first phase of a wider goal of compelled acceptance.
“Throughout that years-long fight, our partners wisely understood that marriage was just one step – albeit a very important one – on the path to full equality for LGBT people in this country,” Watson wrote in a “letter from the president.” She then went on to describe how religious liberty exemptions threaten “equality.”
In 2015, Tim Sweeney, a former program director of the Haas Fund, said that individual rights to exemption are “all about using ‘religious liberty’ as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people and others.”
Schaeffer wrote: “This all explains why one baker at one shop continues to be hounded even after a Supreme Court ruling in his favor.”
In August, Phillips filed a federal lawsuit after a transgender customer tried to order a specially designed cake.
“The activist-customer, of course, knew in advance what the response would be and quickly filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission after being turned away,” Schaeffer noted. “The commission then ordered Phillips to attend a ‘compulsory mediation’ session, prompting his lawsuit.”
Schaeffer concluded: “Hundreds of thousands of dollars and continued targeted harassment are being aimed at one baker. The activists funded by a financially powerful private foundation know that if Phillips’ rights are upheld, they’ll face a long, drawn-out battle to strip all Americans of their religious liberties.”