Yes, Of Course A Business Owner Should Have The Right To Refuse Service To Gay People

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We critics of modern society tend to run into a problem very similar to the one you encounter when you go to a bar with 27 different beers on tap.

Sometimes, we just don’t know where to begin.

That’s how I feel when I read about the progressives working themselves into a lather over that religious freedom bill in Arizona. The legislation simply solidifies a business owner’s right to act according to his or her religious beliefs (I say “further solidifies” because the First Amendment already covers this ground pretty thoroughly). “News” outlets like CNN, engaging in blatant editorializing (surprise!), refer to it as ”the anti-gay bill,” because part of religious freedom is the right to not participate in activities which you find mortally sinful.

It’s not that business owners want to “refuse service” to gays simply because they’re gay; it’s that some business owners — particularly people who work in the wedding industry — don’t want to be forced to employ their talents in service of something that defies their deeply held religious convictions.

This shouldn’t be an issue, but it is, because some gays in some states have specifically and maliciously targeted religious florists, bakers, and photographers, so that they can put these innocent people in a compromising position, and then run to the media and the courts when — GASP! — Christians decide to follow the dictates of Christianity.

Yet, the cases that sparked this law are hardly discussed. The progressive mob claims that this legislation is about shoving gays to the back of the bus and making them drink out of separate fountains. George Takei echoed the sentiments of many when he likened the Arizona bill to “Jim Crow.”

And here we arrive at my quandary. There are so many lies being told about this bill; so many ridiculous and offensive exaggerations; so many untruths, half-truths, and truth-omissions; so many dishonest tactics at play, that I’m utterly overwhelmed by it all. The propagandists are shouting from all around me, and I can’t engage them from every side at once.

If I had the time, I’d specifically address the continued comparisons drawn between the historical plight of blacks in America and the imagined plight of gays in present day. I’d point out how this is much like comparing a stubbed toe to the Holocaust.

We should remember that blacks were in chains in this country. They were literally treated as less than human. They could be legally murdered and beaten and starved. They were set apart, cast aside, and violently and systematically oppressed.

Not only are gays in a better position than this, but the two scenarios are diametrically opposite. Unlike historical blacks, gays are afforded special legal protections. They are celebrated by the president, Hollywood, pop culture, the media, mainstream culture, and most major corporations. They are hoisted on a pedestal by only the most powerful and influential people in the country.

Black people ought to deliver a sound verbal smackdown to any historically illiterate gasbag who even attempts to paint the slightest equivalency between the suffering of blacks and gays.

But I could write several pages on this aspect alone, and maybe I will soon.

For now, I think I have to do the work that the media, and even many talking head ”conservatives,” won’t.

Left wingers are busily constructing fantastical narratives about restaurant owners who wish to prevent gays from eating at their establishments, and cab drivers who want nothing more than to drive right past the gay man hailing him on the sidewalk. Meanwhile, here in the Land of Things That Actually Happen, nobody is proposing, nor condoning, nor anticipating, nor hoping for, nor looking to specifically protect that sort of thing. That sort of thing isn’t happening, and it won’t happen. It’s not an issue. It’s not real. It’s a fantasy. A lie. A total fabrication.

Instead, some see it necessary and prudent to stop private citizens from using the courts to force other private citizens to actively participate in a particular act which they find morally objectionable. That’s all. And — unlike the handwringing about the mystical Denny’s manager who might try to use the Bible to justify not serving pancakes to a lesbian — this is a real thing that has occurred several times recently.


Hands On Originals. The Christian owner of a local t-shirt company declined to produce shirts advertising Lexington’s annual Gay Pride Festival. Hands On Originals had likely made shirts for many gay people in the past. As far as I know, they never asked anyone to fill out a questionnaire about their sexual proclivities before ordering their apparel. In this case, however, the company was being asked to advertise for a gay pride festival. He politely turned down the business and even pointed the organizers to other manufacturers that would make the shirts at the same or better rates. Nobody’s rights were infringed upon. Nobody was victimized. Nobody was even inconvenienced.

But the bullies at Kentucky’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization smelled an opportunity. They dragged Hands On before the “Human Rights Commission” and accused them of “human rights violations.” The HRC sided with the gay bullies. So did Lexington’s mayor. Lexington’s mayor is openly gay, by the way. But I’m sure that had nothing to do with his opinion on the matter.

Masterpiece Cake Shop. The Christian owner of a Colorado bakery has been forced by a judge to bake cakes for gay weddings, after declining the business 0f two gay men who wanted him to make a cake for their same sex nuptials. The baker didn’t refuse them “because they’re gay.” In fact, he specifically said: “I’ll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies, I just don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.”

He had a problem with the activity itself, not the people participating in it. But the gay couple, instead of respecting the man’s beliefs, decided to whine to the ACLU. Eventually a lawsuit was filed, and the couple complained in court of being “dehumanized.”

DEHUMANIZED. Because some guy wouldn’t make a cake for their wedding. Dehumanized.

Unborn babies butchered in abortion mills? Sorry, not dehumanizing. One bakery in the entire country decides not to make dessert for a gay wedding? DEHUMANIZING.

Makes sense, right?

Elane Photography. A New Mexico judge ruled that a small photography company in the state is not allowed to decide which weddings they will photograph and which weddings they won’t photograph. He compelled the Christian photographers who own the business to work gay weddings, despite their religious convictions.

This ruling came after Elane Huguenin politely declined to photograph a lesbian wedding back in 2006. As Huguenin explained: they will “gladly serve gays and lesbians—by, for example, providing them with portrait photography—whenever doing so would not require them to create expression conveying messages that conflict with their religious beliefs.”

But this wasn’t good enough. Even though the lesbian customers promptly found a different photographer who charged better rates, they still took the matter to the courts.

Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts. A florist in Washington state was sued after she decided not to provide flowers for a gay wedding. In this case, even the customers admit that the business owner had served them many times over ten years. If she wanted to “refuse service to gays,” she would have already. But it wasn’t the gay men she had a problem with — it was the gay wedding. Of course this explanation, reasonable as it might be, wasn’t sufficient.

She was dragged to court. The lawsuit, I believe, is still ongoing.

In none of these cases did the business owner forgo service to a gay person out of some kind of disgust or animosity towards gays. They simply wished to take no part in a gaywedding. To call this discrimination against gays is to make no distinction between theperson of a homosexual and the activity of a homosexual.

It’s absolutely nonsensical. It also, again, makes any comparison to “Jim Crow laws” seem insane. Blacks were denied basic services because they were black — not because of their activity.

The gay people in these cases are asking Christians to specifically participate in a morally objectionable act. You can tell me that gay weddings are not morally objectionable, but that isn’t up to you. That’s your belief. This is their belief. In America, we are supposed to be free to live according to our convictions. We can only be stopped from living our convictions if our convictions call us to do harm to another. Were any of these gay couples “harmed” by having to go back to Google and find any of a thousand other options?

Perhaps their feelings were hurt. Fine. Are we saying that we have no right to do something if it might hurt someone’s feelings? Are we prepared to take that logic to its fullest extent?

Put differently, to tell a Christian that they must provide services to a gay wedding because that’s what a gay person wants, is to say that one must condone the actions of a gay person in order to affirm the dignity and inherent human worth of a gay person. Now we have, yet once more, provided special legal accommodations to this protected class.

No other group is afforded such privileges. I can’t force a Jewish deli to provide me with non kosher meat. I can’t force a gay sign company to print me “Homosexual sex is a sin” banners (I’d probably be sued just for making the request). I can’t force a Muslim caterer to serve pork. I can’t force a pro-choice business to buy ad space on my website. I can’t force a Baptist sculptor to carve me a statue of the Virgin Mary.

I can’t force a private citizen to involve himself in a thing which he finds abhorrent, objectionable, or sinful.

And you know what? I would never try.

Maybe that’s what separates liberty lovers from liberals. For all their talk about “minding your business” and “this doesn’t concern you” and “live and let live,” theirs is truly an ideology of compulsion. The free speech and expression of other citizens must be tamed by the whip of their lobbying, legislating, and litigating.

It is, of course, ridiculous to insist that any man or woman has a “right” to have a cake baked or t-shirt printed. It’s equally ridiculous to put the desire and convenience of the would-be cake consumer and t-shirt wearer above the First Amendment rights of the cake maker and t-shirt printer.

But this is tyranny. It doesn’t have to make sense.

Make no mistake: this is tyranny. Tyranny is not injured emotions, hurt feelings, and minor inconveniences. Tyranny is the government compelling a man or woman to conform to a dogma or bow to an idol. Tyranny is when you are forced to abandon your beliefs and fall in line.

And tyranny is still tyranny, even when it comes wrapped in tolerance and “human rights.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Matt Walsh

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