Private businesses should not be forced to serve



In an ideal world, there would be an unwritten code, a gentleman’s agreement, between evangelical Christians and gay rights activists; an agreement something like this: Christians will not throw “fire and brimstone” in the faces of the LGBT community, and the LGBT community will not throw vitriol and scorn at Christians.

Unfortunately, as Congress has been so apt to display, when humans feel passionately about an issue, maturity is even less important than honesty. A little dose of both might go a long way.

To be honest, a small group of “Christians” did start the whole mess. They picketed LGBT events, they told LGBT people they were going to hell, they did everything un-Christian-like to make sure the LGBT community knew their version of God hated them.

It doesn’t matter who started it, and when that rational is used as a justification to act irrationally, adults bare more in common with kindergarteners than grown-ups. It was in this environment that Indiana saw fit to pass a law setting compelling interest and less restrictive means tests to determine infringement on religion.

While 20 other states have similar laws that haven’t ruffled feathers, the tsunami of outrage against Indiana has been immediate. Businesses and organizations like the NCAA and Angie’s List have questioned the law and discussed openly whether they should change their plans going forward to exclude Indiana.

While legal analysts argue over whether the law will give Christian business owners the right to refuse gay patrons, Governor Mike Pence insists the intent was only to protect against government overreach, though he refuses to confirm that it will not be used to discriminate.

But if a Christian baker does not want to bake a cake for a gay wedding, they should not be forced to. To the LGBT community this is overblown as bigotry, hatred, and discrimination on the same level as Southern segregation. As if simply saying “I don’t support gay marriage, and I’d rather not bake a cake for that wedding,” is somehow comparable to unleashing dogs, water cannons, and police batons on Freedom Riders.

What it would be equal to would be a Japanese artifact store turning down a religious person asking for a Katana they can use to behead animals, like a Tulane fraternity, as part of a religious ceremony. Despite most Americans eating meat, they would still have a moral objection to the act, and wish not to facilitate it.

This is exactly how Christians feel when they are asked to facilitate a same-sex marriage. If it is hatred and bigotry to turn down service to an LGBT wedding or event, it is equally hatful and bigotous to have a Christian business shut down because of it.

It needs to be said that any “we don’t serve your kind here” remarks from Christian owners would have more in common with Jim Crow than Jesus Christ, and should be put down by Congress regulating interstate commerce, as they did with those remarks toward African Americans.

Lexington has a prime example. Hands On Originals was ruled discriminatory because they did not want to print t-shirts for a gay pride festival. There was no hatred or bigotry, evidenced by gay employees and customers of the company. It was the message, not the sexual orientation, which Hands On did not want to serve.

The Constitution guarantees Americans that laws will not prohibit the free exercise of their religion. It does not guarantee the right to have service. Again, denial based on LGBT status alone should be legislated against; discrimination is not acceptable. However, businesses should be left to decide what events they will or won’t facilitate.

Why any LGBT person or organization would even want someone who opposes their lifestyle or cause to facilitate their event in the first place is hard to understand. The only logical reason seems to be forcing their lifestyle or cause upon the business; the irony of that shouldn’t need to be pointed out.

As long as either side lacks the maturity to see how juvenile this is, a gentleman’s agreement will not suffice – a law like Indiana’s might be necessary.