Followup

A quick followup to an earlier post. I was unaware of a number of existing and past lawsuits and situations.

A bakery shop in Oregon recently moved its storefront to a home bakery after backlash from refusing service to a gay marriage.  The opposite also seems to apply; you can see your business double if you refuse in Colorado. A few more examples of the phenomenon are here and here (a photographer), with mixed results.

Both Oregon and Colorado and New Mexico (the states involved in these cases) have anti-discrimination laws for businesses that cover sexual orientation. If you’re going to operate a business, you have to abide by the law. Let’s say, for example, that your religion prohibited serving black people; the law wisely doesn’t care. Why, then, should businesses get a religious exemption for serving gay marriages?

Now let’s flip it. Is it fair to discriminate against a bakery that refuses service to gay marriage? I’m equivocating “discrimination” here – let’s say “avoid doing business with.” Well, sure. It’s certainly not right to threaten them – that’s against the law as well as unethical – but advising others to not do business with them is perfectly fine.

Does a business have the right to discriminate as it chooses? “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” is a sign I see often in restaurants. It’s an empty threat, of course, against an anti-discrimination lawsuit.

This case of a florist in Washington state – where same-sex marriage is legal – is fascinating, directly pitting the First Amendment (which apparently protects flower arranging) against the state’s anti-discrimination laws. Whose civil rights will triumph?

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