In Arizona it’s perfectly legal to get married to someone of the same gender. However, one for-profit wedding organizing company feels it can deny service to people for engaging in perfectly legal behavior.
Latimer is a Christian-ordained minister, but her business does not appear to be run as such. She and the other ministers on staff provide nondenominational and even nonreligious ceremonies. They also provide full wedding packages, which include photography, flowers, and furnishings for a variety of venues. Allen and White were planning to purchase the “Garden Romance Package,” which includes an hour of professional photography, a PA system with music, chairs with covers and bows, decorated arbor, and other ceremonial customizations.
Phoenix’s nondiscrimination ordinance prohibits a refusal of service based on sexual orientation, but also contains an exemption for “any religious or denominational institution or organization.” Attorney Brendan Mahoney, who helped write the ordinance, told the Arizona Republic that because AffordableWeddingMinister is run by ordained ministers, “they get to say who they want to marry and who they don’t.”
Wow, so if a minister is running a restaurant, they get to discriminate? Do they also get to segregate their bathrooms and water fountains?
Of course not. Discrimination is something for-profit businesses don’t get to do in America. And discrimination doesn’t suddenly become peachy if you do it for religious reasons.
There’s a reason lawmakers don’t make exceptions for businesses. It doesn’t make much sense to essentially say that all these other discrimination is not ok, you can’t turn away racial minorities, you have to let women sit in the same area as men, you have to serve gay people, etc. – because we have to protect equality – but if you’re discriminatory because you think god told you to be? Oh, well that’s ok. No. Discrimination is immoral regardless of why a person does it.
And it gets even stupider than that if you think about all the other sexual practices for which you can’t ban somebody from your business. You can’t ban them from your business if you found out they held hands before marriage, prefer missionary style to cowgirl (or vice versa), french kiss, masturbate, perform oral sex on one another – it’s clear with pretty much every sexual act relegated to the bedroom that you would be in deep legal shit if you attempted to bar somebody from your business because you learned what they do privately. But gay sex? All of a sudden they’re just too guy to buy wedding pictures.
Latimer took exception that a federal judge had ruled in favor of marriage equality, which “goes directly against God’s laws” and constitutes a “war on those who believe in Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.”
Yeah, telling Christians they don’t get to dictate the love lives of others is a “war on those who believe in Jesus.” How privileged do you have to be to think it’s your right to tell someone else who to find attractive or who to fall in love with? And how fucked up do you have to be to think that if you don’t get to control someone else’s life that it’s you being attacked?
She defended her actions, explaining, “I feel same-sex marriage is wrong and have every right to have feelings just like they do.”
I feel Christianity’s wrong. So what? It doesn’t mean I get to bar Christians from any hypothetical business I might own. That’s discrimination and it’s wrong. Nobody’s arguing that you don’t have the right to feel homosexuality is wrong. Hell, the racist is within his rights to feel that black people are inferior. What he doesn’t have the right to do is bar black people from his business because of those feelings, and neither do people who’ve been transformed into bigots by their supposedly moralizing religion.
The couple says they are not planning to take legal action, but they are disappointed Latimer’s site didn’t indicate they don’t perform same-sex marriages before they wasted so much time making arrangements.
It’s a pity. They would’ve won the lawsuit and protected future couples from this type of rank discrimination.
It’s a shame the only penalty will be a small nook in the history books as one of the last businesses to discriminate in this way, even as the world was changing. I do hope the history books record their reason for doing so, that way future generations can read that religion was the cause of so much hate, even as these Christians called it love.