Christian bakery owners Melissa and Aaron Klein just wanted to make a go out of their Oregon-based business. However, they weren’t willing to compromise their beliefs for the sake of making a buck. When a lesbian couple approached them in 2013 to ask for a wedding cake, they politely declined. That’s when the you-know-what hit the fan. Feeling discriminated against, the lesbian couple – Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman – filed an official complaint against Sweet Cakes by Melissa. Oregon officials naturally ruled in their favor.
As a result of the “violation,” the Kleins may have to pay exorbitant fines to the state. They have already lost their physical business location due to the furor created by gay right advocates. Now the Kleins operate their business out of their home.
Let’s be clear. If the Kleins are experiencing a severe downturn in their business because customers are voluntarily boycotting the store, that’s the nature of free speech and free market capitalism. You have the right to say what you want in this country, but customers can choose what they do with their spending dollar. If the Kleins want to complain about how they’ve been treated by the community, that’s a separate issue and one I’m not particularly interested in.
What is much more interesting is whether anti-discrimination laws that force business owners to serve everyone equally are really Constitutional. We’ve already seen from the Supreme Court’s controversial Hobby Lobby decision that federal law can’t force an owner to betray their own religion. Perhaps it’s time to draw the natural conclusion that this should also apply to couples unwilling to bake cakes for lesbian weddings.
Speaking out on her Facebook page on Monday, Melissa Klein explained that our culture has accepted “2 huge lies.”:
The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. Second is that to love someone means that you must agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.
In a country that enforces anti-discrimination laws when it comes to everything from hiring practices to sports, it may be time to take a step back and evaluate. When did it become a matter of common sense that a business owner should have to serve everyone and anyone who walks in the door? What happened to the Kleins’ business following the scandal is a perfect example of the free market in action. If people don’t like what you’re doing, they won’t spend their money in your store. Why can’t that be the end of it?
There’s no protection against discrimination in our Constitution. When it comes to government institutions, laws against discrimination make sense as they comply with the 14th Amendment. When it comes to the private sector, however, business owners should be able to refuse service at will. If that means they don’t want to serve blacks, Hispanics, white people, pregnant women, or droids, that should be their right. If others decide they don’t want to support such bigotry, then it’s within their right not to shop there.
What more do we need?