Tucker Carlson spoke on Thursday night to the Christian couple who had to shut down their business because of a $135,ooo fine after they refused to serve a lesbian wedding. They appeared on his show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, with their lawyer to discuss their appeal of that decision.
"Today, their case was heard by a state appeals court," Carlson reported, "we're joined tonight by the Kleins as well as Hiram Sasser, of the First Liberty Institute, which is representing them in court."
"There's been so much reporting on this," Carlson said, "and so much of it has come from a very specific perspective that is hostile to you that I just want to establish what exactly happened. You all did not refuse to serve customers because they are gay, as I understand it, you merely refused to participate in any way in a ceremony you believe violated your religious beliefs. Is that a fair distinction?"
"Actually, Tucker, I kinda have to interrupt," Sasser interjected. "Do you know there's a gag order in this case, where it's actually being interpreted by one of the commissioners at the Bureau of Labor and Industries that they can't really talk about what actually happened. And so we have to be very careful because of this gag order."
"What do you mean you can't talk about it?" Carlson asked incredulously, "I mean, so they're dismantling the entire First Amendment, the religious liberty part and the freedom of speech part. Why can't you describe what happened, something that has been described in a lot of news stories? I don't understand."
Sasser explained that the Kleins cannot speak about the decision because of the gag order.
"As a general matter to both Kleins," Carlson inquired, "did you have a practice of not serving gay people because they were gay?"
"No, we had no such litmus test for customers," Aaron Klein answered. "We served everybody no matter who they were, every walk of life. That's part of being open to the public."
"These two women were in fact return customers," his wife said.
Right, so they had been there before and you served them with no problems. So I think we can all assume that the problem was you didn't want to participate in a ceremony that in any way you felt violated your religious beliefs. So, my question to you and I've been thinking this since this story began, what do you make of the coverage of this?
The Oregonian, which is your newspaper, one of the newspapers in Oregon, described this, and they used quotation marks around the phrase "religious liberty" as if it were a concept they were unfamiliar with, or something only right-wingers cared about. Do you think this case has received fair coverage?
"It really depends on what news outlet you go with," Klein responded. "We've seen a lot of false stories out there, a lot of things that totally mischaracterized us and what happened and really what it comes down to is, I mean, it's really hard to find truth in media when it comes to things like this because there's so much misinformation out there."
"So you've been characterized," Carlson concluded, "as I'm sure you know, as hating gay people when it's much more specific."
Carlson asked their lawyer if this was setting the precedent where "the state can force people to violate their religious beliefs."
"Yeah, what's unfortunate about this," Sasser responded, "is that we have people of good will on all sides, and we live in a pluralistic society, we gotta try to figure out how to get along. And what we're simply fighting for is tolerance and respect and the dignity of all people to be able to carry out their lives in the way that they see fit."
Everyone struggles how to both follow their faith and also interact with others, and it's just really sad that the government has decided to come into Oregon and put their thumb on the scale and say, 'No, your beliefs, your way, is wrong, and we're going to punish you with basically a lifetime-crushing penalty.'
"Of course," Carlson added, "abetted by their mindless handmaidens in the press who hate you for other reasons, cultural reasons."
Sasser said that the decision on the appeal to the fine should come down in a few months, but he suspected that either side would appeal no matter who lost, and that it might go to the Supreme Court.