Catholic bakers will have to make wedding cakes for same-sex marriages!
Here are some situations that are not in issue:
• People having to marry other people they don’t want to marry—not an issue
• People having to like, speak to, look at, or invite to their house same-sex married couples—not an issue
• Religions having to marry same-sex couples—not an issue
• Religions having to curb their speech in private or in the public sphere—not an issue
• Religious individuals having to curb their speech in private or in the public sphere—ditto
What is at issue?
Is the state justified in requiring you as a person doing business in public to serve all customers? Generally business people want customers, but if you do not want to serve a particular person, should the state be able to tell you that you must? You don’t have to serve everyone. Let’s say they are underage. They don’t have on a shirt or shoes. They are inebriated, disorderly, or dangerous. No service required.
But as a member of the public, benefiting from public protection and laws and from the trust of the community, can you turn away anyone you want? Over the years, we as our own law-makers have said we want to protect certain groups of people whose lives are made difficult by business people refusing service for no other reason than that the business person doesn’t like them. They have an “animus” for some reason. In the case of skin color that “animus” was making life difficult for a significant number of people. As a matter of public policy, we don’t want to stand by and let that happen.
Now we face this question: What if the customer is not complying with the laws and beliefs of your religion? Is that a good reason to refuse service, like no shirt or shoes, or is it an “animus”? Does the customer’s not believing as you do deprive you of religious liberty? You are Muslim, and a woman comes in to your store without a head covering. Is your religious liberty violated if the law requires you to sell her groceries? A traveler with a shopping bag from the liquor store hails your cab. Should you be allowed to pass him by? You are a Catholic, and a same-sex couple comes in to buy groceries. Can you refuse to sell them groceries? How about a wedding cake?
Is it a violation of your religious freedom for the state to require you to serve people who believe differently from you? Is selling goods and services a religious practice? And even if it is, do we as a matter of public policy want to allow business people to make life difficult for others because of religious differences? Does it foster peace and the common good to have religious strife in a pluralistic society?
What do you think of all this?