Monday, February 24, 2014

Talking Point: License to discriminate is a "civil right"

Many of the usual suspects are doing it. Tony Perkins does it. Brian Brown does it. The Arizona legislature did it. They frame discrimination as a constitutionally protected right. Religious fundamentalists have lost their minds.

According to Ryan T. Anderson, the Kansas right to discriminate bill was not discriminatory, but instead was designed to prevent “the kind of coercion that happened under Jim Crow” by protecting “what should be already protected: basic civil liberties such as freedom of association, freedom of contract, and freedom of religion.”

It is hard to imagine how anyone defending a bill allowing people to discriminate would bring up Jim Crow laws as a justification. "Freedom of contract?" The Lochner Era (a time when the Supreme Court embraced laissez-faire principles) ended in the late 1930's. You could just as easily have claimed (and they probably did) that segregation was required to protect freedom of association, freedom of contract and freedom of religion.
Why don't these imbeciles simply hang a sign? It would be perfectly lawful. Gay couples would prefer to spend their money elsewhere. Problem solved.

The reason is simple. They not only want the right to discriminate but they want the right to do it quietly. They only want the gay people to go away. They don't want to lose heterosexual customers who would be offended by the policy. So much for courage of convictions.

I am trying to imagine what this environment would be like for a gay couple about to get married. For each service, they have to call around to see who accepts gay customers. Imagine the anger when some people say "no - we don't want your money." Imagine feeling less equal. That is precisely what they are shooting for.

The religious fundamentalists want to extend their opprobrium into the marketplace. They are looking for an opportunity to personally tell a gay person that he or she is an evil pervert who is destined for hell. Yet they are looking for a way to do so that doesn't seem offensive in polite society. There exists no polite way to express hatred of gay people.

If any of these laws go through we are going to require a means of handling them. Personally, I am an advocate of shaming people who are so self-absorbed that they feel that icing a cake is God's work. I'm guessing that companies like Starbucks have spent many millions of dollars to know that gay friendly is good business. We certainly have the resources required to maintain lists of businesses that discriminate, along with alternatives that we can direct customers to.

Being sued did not put Sweet Cakes by Melissa out of business (or close to it). Not at all. It was the exposure that caused people to shun the American Taliban. If any of these laws pass, they will probably not do much good and they probably won't last long.
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