Requiring Businesses to Advertise Their Discrimination

Requiring Businesses to Advertise Their Discrimination March 23, 2015

As more and more states move to pass laws that would allow businesses to discriminate, some people are offering up what I think is a great idea: If they’re going to be allowed to discriminate, they should have to put up a sign announcing their intention to do so and to name those they will refuse to hire or serve.

Don’t want to serve gay people? Fine. But be straight about it.

That’s what some equal rights advocates are saying, as state lawmakers consider passing laws to protect business owners who don’t want gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender customers: Those business owners should post signs, stating who they’ll not do business with.

There’s a threefold benefit: Business owners with strongly held beliefs can state them loud and proud. Prospective LGBT patrons can avoid the frustration and inconvenience of being denied service. And those of us who want to can spend our money elsewhere.

It’s a practical suggestion advanced around the country by state lawmakers, and here in Michigan by the Satanic Temple of Detroit — get past the name, their points are well-made and valid — and it’s difficult to imagine on what grounds any business owner could object. If you believe it’s OK to deny service to individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity, why not say it? And if the idea of saying it, publicly and definitively, makes you uncomfortable — if the idea of hanging a sign in your business saying which groups of people aren’t welcome — well, maybe you should indulge in a little self-examination…

So say it.

If you’re out and gay, you live your authentic self every day. If you’re transgender, your very existence is political. If you’re a business owner who doesn’t want to do business with gay or transgender Michiganders, you should be as brave as those you refuse to serve.

I like that idea. To use a Biblical metaphor, don’t hide your light under a bushel basket, let it shine for all to see. If you truly believe that you’re being righteous in discriminating against gay people: “Say it out loud — I’m a bigot and I’m proud.”

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