I want to go into the conservative reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling, effectively striking down any bans on gay marriage, and the example I want to use is an audio clip from the NPR show, ‘Here and Now,’ because it’s just an awesome example of skillful word-smithing. I can’t use the actual audio clip because it’s copyrighted, but I can use excerpts of what was said. The person being interviewed was Jim Campbell director of the Center for Marriage and Family with the Alliance for Defending Freedom. He said the following:
“The court regrettably stripped All Americans of our freedom to debate and decide marriage policy through the democratic process. Moreover, the court overrode the considered judgment of tens of millions of Americans who recently reaffirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and in doing so the court went beyond what the Constitution says, beyond what the Constitution requires, and took this issue away from the people.”
When asked by NPR host, Robin Young, whether he wanted this debate to be in the court of public opinion, he said yes, and she immediately (and justly) countered with the fact that, among the general public, a vast majority do approve of same-sex marriage, especially among millennials. So the court of public opinion seems to be trending against the opposition to gay marriage, in that case. Here’s how he argued around that. He said:
“The most important opinion poll is taken at the ballot box.”
In other words, let’s decide this where gerrymandering favors our side, let’s decide this where we can use voter I.D. laws and other intimidation tactics to make sure that the young and minorities don’t get heard, and let’s decide the issue that way. Disgusting, no?
He goes on to say: “The point that you are making is that it appears, from your perspective, that opinions are shifting on this. And if that’s the case, then we should allow the people to continue to discuss, debate, and decide the issue for themselves.”
Brilliant! See what he did there? He first said, “It appears, from your perspective (never mind that it’s an opinion poll, not her perspective) that opinions are shifting on this.” Shifting my ass! They’re moving decidedly and rapidly away from this man’s position! And yet so engrossed is he in the absoluteness that his religion must be right, that he acknowledges that there’s movement in the debate, but can’t come to grips with the fact that it’s moving against him! How about that!
Robin Young then asked whether or not religious freedom was at the center of their argument he said it was.
“There are some instances where people are trying to operate a business and trying to live consistent with their faith, and courts are forcing them to either host or facilitate same-sex ceremonies, even though doing so conflicts with their faith. So I do think that that actually is a real issue. Moreover, one thing we do know here at Alliance for Defending Freedom and one thing we are committed to is that no one should be threatened or punished by the government simply for believing and living consistent with the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
How? How are they being forced? That's the part I don't see.
Host? Where would they host? A Christian-owned banquet hall, perhaps? Maybe. But if gays and lesbians wanted to rent the hall for a party, such a business wouldn't object. It's only the marriage part they object to. But so what? If you own the hall, you don't have to attend, do you? Or you can hire out some other bartender/host. Big deal, right? It sure beats losing the business to someone else.
He then goes on to cite the standard jobs where someone’s Christian faith and/or belief that gay marriage is a sin might cause that person’s beliefs to be violated. Namely, a florist, a baker, a wedding photographer, and although he didn’t include it, I will also include a DJ, because at least one friend of mine who is a DJ says he will never do a gay wedding no matter what the Supreme Court says.
So let’s take a good look at that, because this is really where the proverbial rubber meets the road. What happens when, say, a devoutly Christian wedding photographer or planner gets asked to help out with a gay wedding?
Well, the nice and responsible thing for that photographer or planner to do would be to say, “Look, I’m a devout Christian, and as such gay weddings make me uncomfortable because they’re contrary to my religious beliefs. But I do know someone (competitor, assistant, contractor) who would be willing to do the photography for you instead of me.” In other words, that person is willing to lose their business to someone else, or hand the actual business duties to someone else, in order for the customer’s needs to be met. That might mean that the proprietor loses that customer to a competitor, but if one’s religion places such priorities over profits, then so be it. Let the free market decide the matter.
Now, would that be discriminating against the gay couple? Yes, maybe a little, but it isn’t turning the business away as such, either. Would that be a violation of the gay couple’s rights? Well, if the only wedding photographer willing to do a gay wedding charges an arm and a leg, maybe, because the gay couple is forced to pay a lot more for the same service just because the competitors are squeamish. That may happen, but the odds are rather low.
My point is, there are reasonable compromises which allow for the accommodation of both the anti-gay religious beliefs of the proprietor and the gay-accepting religious beliefs of the customer. There are numerous other examples of where something like this can happen, whether it is a Seikh who religiously objects to drinking alcohol selling you a case of beer at the convenience store, or a Hindu who objects to the eating of cows serving you a hamburger at McDonald’s, there are plenty of ways where we recognize that accommodating other people’s lifestyles is not the same thing as endorsing them.
How about other examples? Dressmakers? Who cares, they won’t be attending. Tux rentals? Same thing. Florists? They won’t be in attendance, unless they have to set up the display on the altar, and then they’ll be gone before the actual ceremony takes place. Cake-makers? There isn’t a baker I can think of who wouldn’t be willing to say, “Look, I can’t approve of your lifestyle due to my religious beliefs, but I value your business, so how about if I sell you the cake and the icing for writing the message on it separately? I’ll even throw in the icing for free. (That’s only like, a buck anyway.) Of course! Every baker worth his business would do that!
The objection is all imagined. Gay couples have made peace with their god when it comes to the love they feel, and that’s their religion, regardless of what label they use. But Christian extremists want the ability to say, “I religiously object to your religious interpretation, and so I want the right to try and shame you into changing your ways by refusing to do business with you, and doing so in a rude way because there are some easy ways I could compromise to accommodate having you as a customer, but I’d rather just say no and label you ‘icky!’ Well, if so, fine. But at least be honest about it. This is you trying to force your religion upon someone else's creed. And that’s not “restoration of religious freedom,” no matter what else you may call it!
Bottom line is, the free market will work this out, just as it always does. If your religion dictates the need to attempt to force others to comply with your religion’s edicts, then there will be some other vendor which will take your business, and that’s the way it should be. If you’re a dick, you lose customers. And we really shouldn’t care or be sympathetic that your religion makes you a dick.
Certainly, it’s none of the government’s business.