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Designer Refusing to Work with Melania Trump a Form of Discrimination?

Questions about a “double standard” of discrimination have arisen when the fashion designer who clothed Michelle Obama for years announced she refuses to work with future first lady Melania Trump out of her opposition to Donald Trump.
Melania Trump takes the stage after her introduction. July 19, 2016 03:40pm EDT

Reuters/Jim Young

Questions about a “double standard” of discrimination have arisen when the fashion designer who clothed Michelle Obama for years announced she refuses to work with future first lady Melania Trump out of her opposition to Donald Trump.

In an open letter posted on her Twitter account, designer Sophie Theallet did not miss the opportunity to say she had been honored to have designed clothes for the present first lady Michelle Obama.

She said her brand “stands against all discrimination and prejudice” but added that she “will not participte in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady.”

“The rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by,” Theallet wrote, and encouraged other designers to follow suit.

While her tweet has been liked about 15,000 times and retweeted 8,000 times, Theallet’s declaration has opened the discussion about what real discrimination is, and who defines discrimination.

Recently, Barronelle Stutzman, the 71-year-old Christian florist who refused to arrange wedding flowers for a same-sex wedding went to trial at Washington Supreme Court. Stutzman said she didn’t want to provide the flowers for the wedding not because the client was gay. The client was in fact her friend.

She emphasized her reason for refusing service to the client was because participating in the same-sex wedding would violate her beliefs as a Christian. The client sued her for “discrimination,” and a lower court ruled she violated an anti-discrimination law.

The court said she could either accept clients for same-sex weddings or she could not do weddings at all. Stutzman, not wanting to compromise her faith, settled for the latter, and her business has suffered greatly.

"I wasn't offered a settlement. I was offered an ultimatum: 'Either you will do as I tell you to do; you will think the way I think; you will perform the way I think you should perform and create. And if you don't, I'm going to destroy you,'" Stutzman said.

A baker named Jack C. Phillips was approached by a gay couple to create their wedding cake. Phillips refused because it contradicted his beliefs as a Christian, but he offered to make them other baked goods. The gay couple filed a lawsuit against Phillips because he apparently “dehumanized” them by refusing to bake the wedding cake.

Two courts ordered Phillips to bake the wedding cake, but because he didn’t want to go against his conviction, Phillips stopped making wedding cakes altogether — a decision that cost him 40 percent of his revenues.

Christian couple Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin who owned a photography business refused to give their services to a lesbian couple who were going to have a “commitment ceremony” in 2012. As a result, a court told them they should pay over $6,000 in fines.

The list goes on.

"The double standard here is really amazing," Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation told CBN News.

Anderson is among those who are wondering why Theallet, who made the decision “in good conscience,” received acceptance, while Christian entrepreneurs who refused clients to avoid violating their personal beliefs received lawsuits.

Anderson commented artistic liberals could freely refuse to offer their services if it’s in conflict with their beliefs, but conservatives who choose to do the same are labeled “bigots” and “discriminators.” The government also tends to push down on conservatives who stand on their beliefs.

“In every case that we know of, every case that's made headlines, these were professionals who had no problem serving gay and lesbian customers," Anderson explained, referring to Christian entrepreneurs. "Their only conscientious concern was that they couldn't do a same-sex wedding. They couldn't be the wedding photographer; they couldn't bake the wedding cake; they couldn't do the wedding flowers."

Tags : Sophie Theallet, Melanie Trump, Discrimination, Religious Discrimination, Religious Freedom, Barronelle Stutzman, Jack Phillips, Ryan Anderson, Heritage Foundation, Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, same-sex wedding, Same-Sex Marriage, Christian entrepreneurs who refused service for same-sex wedding, Christian entrepreneur, Donald Trump, Michelle Obama