In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision to allow homosexual couples to marry and thus gain the rights of other legally sanctioned partnerships, I have witnessed an exhorbanant amount of hand-wringing about religious rights. Namely, that if a businessperson believes gay marriage is a sin, then they might be forced to bake a cake, provide flowers, decorate, plan, or otherwise assist gay couples in celebrating their union. This fear, to me, seems mistaken — not because it might happen, but because of course it will happen. But it will not violate anyone’s first amendment rights.
Let me give you a little context with a brief thought experiment:
It is 1960. You are an owner/proprietor of a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Your entire life you have learned that blacks did not deserve equal treatment in society — you learned it in school, in church, and from the law of the land. So when four African-Americans asked to be served at your lunch counter that was marked “Whites Only,” it was completely within your rights to say no. It was wrong and immoral, but it was your right.
Fast forward four years. The Civil Rights bill has been signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It is now no longer your right to refuse blacks equal treatment under the law. No matter how much you don’t want to serve them in your restaurant, you must, or risk legal reprisal. Therefore, you have a choice to make. You can either capitulate to the law and do what the will of the people demands, or you can quit being a Woolworth franchisee. You do not have to stop being racist. The first amendment protects you tofeel any way you want, but if you are going to own a business, you MUST treat all customers, despite the melanin level of their skin, exactly the same. This seems obvious.
Today, all those bakers, florists, wedding planners, and other members of the wedding conglomerate who believe that gay marriage is a sin have a similar choice: serve everyone equally, or quit. It’s that simple.
As a public school teacher I face the same issues. I cannot pick and choose who I will provide a quality education to, despite my personal feelings. If I did, I would be fired. As I should be. If I did not think I could treat everyone equally, I would not be a teacher, I would choose a different profession.
So all you butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, if you don’t want to serve all people who are getting married, no matter their sexual orientation, perhaps it’s time to rethink your profession. It’s not an infringement on your American right to think whatever you want, just your job.