Schaumburg's Office Depot refusal to print a religious flyer is a clear violation of the U.S. and Illinois constitutions as well as Illinois and Cook County public accommodations laws.
The only reason that Office Depot would refuse Maria Goldstein's request to print a religious flyer is that it didn't like the content, which was a prayer and information about Planned Parenthood's abortion statistics. (See the flyer here.)
The repeated refusal has prompted the Thomas More Society to inform Office Depot's Chairman and CEO Ronald Smith that continued refusal will prompt legal action against the chain. (See the letter from the society to Smith here.)
The letter details how a store clerk refused to print the letter because it offends "policy." Repeated efforts to contact Smith failed until one of his assistants, Diane Demma, explained that employees don't have to print something if it makes them "feel uncomfortable."
This is classic. For all the complaining about a baker that wouldn't create a cake for a same-sex wedding, here we have an even more obvious violation of someone's right under various public accommodation laws. As Thomas Olp, society attorney, wrote:
We believe that by allowing and ratifying your employees' refusal to serve Ms. Goldstein because of their hostility to and disagreement with her flyer, you have unlawfully discriminated against Ms. Goldstein because of her religion and religious expression within the meaning of the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance and the Illinois Human Rights Act. The public accommodation laws were passed precisely to prevent businesses like Office Depot, who service the general public, from refusing service on the basis of race and other invidious reasons including religion, religious practice, and religious expression.
Update: Karen Denning, a spokeswoman for Office Depot, told the Chicago Tribune that company policy prohibits "the copying of any type of material that advocates any form of racial or religious discrimination or the persecution of certain groups of people. It also prohibits copying any type of copyrighted material. The flier contained material that advocates the persecution of people who support abortion rights."
What garbage. Read the flyer yourself and see how Denning twists the meaning of "persecution." In her view any political, religious or other utterance that asks for misguided people to see the light are guilty of persecution.*
The question yet to be answered: Will the media take the same level of interest in this discriminatory action as they did about someone who said she wouldn't bake a pizza for a gay wedding, but didn't actually refuse to?
*Definition: "a program or campaign to exterminate, driveaway, or subjugate people based on theirmembership in a religious, ethnic, social, or racial group: the persecutions of Christians by the Romans."
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