Call it American Outrage: 2015. The concept of private-sector discrimination has never set quite right with me in the first place, but this new idea that gay rights trump religious ones is completely beyond the pale. In Oregon this week, a judge ruled that Sweet Cakes by Melissa was guilty of discrimination when they refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. Even though the bakery served homosexual customers without prejudice, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries concluded that this refusal was against the law. Now it will be up to the judge to determine how badly this infraction will cost owners Aaron and Melissa Klein.
“The law provides an exemption for religious organizations and schools,” said spokesman Charlie Burr in a statement, “but does not allow private businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot legally deny service based on race, sex, age, disability, or religion.” He said that Sweet Cakes by Melissa did not qualify as a religious institution.
Discrimination As Judged By Whom?
Putting aside the letter of the law for a moment, there is considerable question whether refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding amounts to discrimination based on sexual orientation. If a group of heterosexuals came in to ask Melissa for a cake meant for a We Hate Homos party, would she have to cater to them, too? Well, that very situation arose only a week ago. A pro-LGBT baker in Colorado was slapped with a complaint when she refused to bake a cake with anti-homosexual slurs on the surface. While that case is a long way from being decided, liberals have risked life and limb to be the first to defend the baker’s right to refuse “hate speech.” So let’s stop pretending this is about discrimination. This is about furthering the gay agenda, plain and simple, end of story.
Laws That Thwart the Ideals of Freedom
But what about the law itself? Is it perhaps time to review these discrimination laws under the light of free speech? Why should only those businesses that qualify as “religious organizations” be able to discriminate in their practices? No one wants a hateful, bigoted society, but I think I would rather see businesses with a “Sorry, no Gays” sign out front than to have the government swooping in with the iron fist of force. If the community finds such policies abhorrent, they’ll drive the place out of business soon enough. And the beauty of the free market is such that there will always be someone else willing to take those customers off the hands of the bigot. Discrimination should be illegal for government services, obviously, but I’ve yet to read a compelling argument for these laws in the private sector.
Anna Harmon, who represents the Kleins, said, “Americans should not have to choose between adhering to their faith or closing their business, but that is what this decision means.”
Indeed it does, and it demonstrates what’s wrong with these laws at a very fundamental level. When it comes to the breaking point, someone is going to have their rights infringed upon. As it stands now, it’s just a matter of the law picking which groups are protected and which aren’t. And that can only lead to a slow, sure destruction of freedom.