Conscientious Objection About Wedding Cakes and Flowers is not About Slavery, Lynchings, Segregation or a Refusal of Service

Conscientious objection about wedding cakes and flowers is not the same thing as slavery, lynching, segregation or a refusal to provide service.

It does not rise to the level of a violation of the civil rights of the cake buyers. It is not discrimination.

We are not talking about a refusal to provide service for a class of people. We are talking about businesses who routinely provide services to everyone, including homosexuals. These mom and pop businesses are owned by individuals whose religious beliefs are not only opposed to gay marriage, but that teach that participation in a gay marriage makes them part of the sin of it.

I believe that this last sentence is the real motivation behind the enormous amount of rage and political energy being expended to force what is a small subset of all the bakers, florists and photographers in this country to participate in this specific event. These people do not want to participate in gay weddings because they believe gay marriage is sinful. That fact, and not the entirely bogus claim of discrimination, is what lies behind the furor.

This is not about discrimination, which is clearly not happening. It is about a need for approval and acceptance, which is not a legal construct.

The question of linking discrimination to service by businesses only occurs when a class of people are routinely refused service because they are of that class of people. The mis-used analogy of the African American civil rights struggle actually demonstrates why these shop owners are not discriminating and why there is no legal discrimination happening in this instance.

African Americans were refused all service at what were labeled “white only” establishments. They could not drink at “white” drinking fountains or even sit at the counter in a “white” drug store. They had to live in “colored” neighborhoods, and attend “colored” schools. This was enforced both by legal penalty and tolerated mob violence, including lynchings which were attended by large crowds of people and ignored by the police.

On the other hand, the bakers, florists and photographers who do not want to participate in gay weddings routinely provide services to homosexual people in every other instance. There is no attempt or desire on their part to refuse service to any group of people. In fact, at least one of the people engaging in these lawsuits was a regular customer of the establishment prior to filling suit.

These businesses are not refusing service based on anyone’s sexual preference. They just don’t want to participate in one specific type of event, and the reason they don’t want to is their religious beliefs which have been honored and respected since the beginning of this nation.

This is not discrimination. This is an exercise of what should be an individual’s freedom of religion.

The true discrimination here is the attack on individual’s right of conscience and religious freedom in an attempt to coerce them to violate their conscience in order to provide flowers, photography services and food for a private event. There is no question that this refusal does not deny the homosexuals in question access to these services. They are available at any number of other similar businesses. There is not and never has been any attempt to deny service to homosexuals. This is not about a class of people. It is about a specific type of event.

What these activists are literally making a federal case about is wedding cakes and flowers. The business people they are attacking provide services to everyone, including homosexuals, in every other instance except gay weddings. To label this discrimination in the Constitutional sense and call it “hate” is ridiculous.

I believe that the real issue is forcing other people, specifically religious people, to provide homosexuals with a sense of social acceptance. I actually understand that longing and sympathize with it. However, the fact is that these florists, photographers and bakers are not practicing discrimination in any sane legal sense.

They are, rather, being harassed, threatened, verbally abused, legally bullied and, yes, discriminated against themselves. The aggression and “hate” appears to be on the side of the people who are attacking them.

Conflating the question of whether or not a few business owners — who routinely and without question provide homosexuals with services otherwise — ask for the freedom to not participate in a single event which violates their religious beliefs, with the horrible suffering of African Americans under Jim Crow laws is equally ridiculous. It cheapens the African American experience in this country.

It is a fact that homosexuals have suffered violence in the form of gay baiting in the relatively recent past. I have had friends who were beaten up, simply because they were gay. I understand that this scars and damages people, including people who are not themselves subjected to this violence, but who must live in fear of it.

As a woman who has lived all her life with omnipresent and socially tolerated random violence against women, I understand this quite well. American women today are told not to go out at night, to always travel in groups to avoid attack. Movies, television and the internet make a lot of money selling violence against women as prurient entertainment.

Powerful movie directors who rape young girls are defended and lionized by that same industry. Young women are told to avoid drinking from open containers at parties to avoid being drugged and gang raped. We operate shelters for women who are subjected to beatings and violence so they can flee their homes in order to avoid being killed.

The desire of a few mom and pop business owners to ply their trade without being forced by law to provide services for one specific type of event that violates their religious beliefs is not gay bating. It is also not discrimination.

In this case, the discriminatory shoe is on the other foot.

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  • Dave

    If the law is against them, if I were a baker, I’d bake them the cake and tell them that I’m donating all proceeds to the National Organization for Marriage or NARTH. I’d also tell them that the quality may be affected by my intrinsic repugnance for what they are asking me to do. (In my opinion, baking a cake for a farcical marriage does not rise to the level of sin, but I respect those that feel otherwise.)

    However, being present at one and photographing it would not be something I would be able to do at all well, and I would tell them truthfully that it would make me so uncomfortable that the quality of their pictures would certainly be affected significantly for the worse. Then, if they want crappy pictures with the proceeds donated to the National Organization for Marriage, they would be welcome to hire me.

    • FW Ken

      Dave, a Christian ought to do the best job they can under any circumstances. I do agree that it should be clear that you are donating the money in their name to a pro-marriage organization.

      • Dave

        Ken, I totally agree that a Christian should always do the best job they can. I am not advocating that they do a terrible job on purpose. However, I’m sure that I personally would not be able to do the job without shaking, distress, distraction, duress etc. which, in the case of photographs (or most endeavors), would affect the quality of the work. That’s just being truthful and up-front. I’m sure others would find themselves in the same situation that I’m in.

    • AnneG

      Rebecca, exactly. I remember as a kid seeing segregated doors, restrooms and drinking fountains and thinking that was incredibly dumb. And I was about 5. I think you nailed it,
      Dave, exactly right. Also, aren’t fees set by the business owner?

  • Manny

    “On the other hand, the bakers, florists and photographers who do not want to participate in gay weddings routinely provide services to homosexual people in every other instance.”
    You’re right! That is a brilliant insight and may be the perfect argument to pass the Supreme Court. I never thought about it that way. Muchas gracias.

    • hamiltonr

      de nada.

  • george-a

    “I believe that the real issue is forcing other people, specifically
    religious people, to provide homosexuals with a sense of social

    This is the essence of the entire issue. The demand for, not tolerance, but agreement. And if agreement is not voluntarily forthcoming, it will be created by force.

  • Madzi

    Once again, I’m astounded at the clarity, succinctness (*is that a real word?) and insight you demonstrate. This is a blog entry I will share with friends and co-workers who simply cannot believe that “discrimination” has nothing whatsoever to do with this and forced compliance, EVERYTHING.

  • FW Ken

    In important news on the same-sex marriage front, the governor out New Mexico has lost her gay barber because if her belief in marriage between a man and a woman. Goose, meet gander.

  • savvy

    The legal issues are not uniform here. Baking a cake is one thing, baking a cake with a message that promotes something like gay marriage or the black panthers is another thing.

    The law cannot compel speech or expression.