Thursday, February 4, 2016

140 Character Food Fight Over Non-Discrimination Protections for LGBT Citizens

Barronelle Stutzman
Washington Florist Barronelle Stutzman
I am watching Zack Ford and Joseph Backholm (head of the Family Policy Institute of Washington) tweet-debate whether or not forcing someone to comply with non-discrimination laws is a form of slavery. Backholm's argument is that if he is being forced to provide goods or services it is involuntary servitude. That argument is fallacious, in part, because the person providing the goods or services is being properly compensated for doing so. A basic predicate of slavery is that it is labor that is being provided for free.

The greater problem with this debate

… is that we are giving legitimacy to an absurd argument. There is no valid religious reason to withhold service to gay people. Mr. Backholm's principle concern is that Washington florist who decided not to sell flowers to be used at a same-sex wedding. Forget the legal argument (and Backholm is an attorney) that the overriding government interest in maintaining equality prevails. There is a logical fallacy.

None of these self-manufactured victims have ever reasonably and logically explained how selling flowers or baking a cake actually violates their religious beliefs. Aside from the fact that the Bible is a contradictory mess when it comes to these matters, these conservative Christians are embracing selective observation. Where, for example, are the refusals to sell flowers for the togetherness anniversary of an unmarried couple who might have children (fornicators)? How about refusals to serve a Jewish wedding? After all these people are wed to the belief that Jews are destined to Hell for not accepting Jesus as their lord and savior. Isn't baking a cake only encouraging them to remain apostate? Has anyone refused an interracial marriage lately on religious grounds?

The simple fact is that conservative Christians are pretty much done shaming Jews and Blacks (that was not always the case). They are done expressing their disapproval, at least on the surface.

However, conservative Christians are still in the business of shaming gay people. Denying them the “right” to refuse service denies them the right to demonstrate their disapproval and that is what this is really all about. Take that Washington florist. She sold flowers to those gay men for years. However, when her flowers were to be used at a same-sex wedding, well … she just had to show them that she did not approve of such things. It is really arrogant when you think about it.

That is not the same thing as a bona fide religious objection which is defined in terms of “Free Exercise.” Discrimination is not a valid expression of religious freedom. When you go into business you accept the terms and conditions of the municipal or state code. It is a choice that the business owner makes. The ability to make conscious choices is the opposite of slavery.

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