BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti’s recently announced his decision to pull out of an agreement to run Republican ads supporting Donald Trump for president. Why? Because of its corporate beliefs, BuzzFeed leadership decided it cannot in good conscience allow Mr. Trump’s ideas and candidacy to be promoted or advocated via content on its website.No, it does not sound familiar. BuzzFeed and the recalcitrant merchants are not similarly situated. There is no law requiring BuzzFeed to run advertisements supporting Donald Trump. The photographer, the florist and the baker all violated perfectly valid nondiscrimination laws. Civics 101. These laws were passed by the people's elected representatives and signed into law by the people's elected governor.
Sound familiar? It should. BuzzFeed made the same conscientious choice that a number of small business owners represented by Alliance Defending Freedom have made: to decline to promote messages, create art, or participate in events that are counter to their deepest convictions.
There is even a Supreme Court precedent. In 1990 the Court decided Employment Division v. Smith. Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia opined that there are no religious exemptions to otherwise valid laws. That might be why the photographer, the florist and the baker (all represented by ADF) lost at trial. The photographer's case even went to the Supreme Court which declined to hear it.
Lorence's piece includes some of Hemingway's crazy logic while Hemingway's piece includes some of ADF's crazy rhetoric. The echo is the product of reciprocal insanity. Reinforced absurdism is no less absurd.
There was a time when these good Christians refused service to Jews. That, too, was based on sincerely held religious belief. Now it is gays. If these people are that delicate—if they are that fragile—then they should refrain from opening public accommodations. If, on the other hand, they want to do business with the public then their business license is conditioned on conformity with applicable laws. That's the deal. It is not terribly complicated.
If these people are desperate for attention—if they need to feed a personality disorder—there are better ways to sate their need than discriminating against gay people. They could, for example, light themselves on fire and have someone post the event to YouTube postmortem.
What these people really want is to demonstrate their disapproval of us and our marriages, all neatly cloaked in scripture. They have a First Amendment right to voice their disapproval but they have no right to deny service. Their approval is neither sought nor required.
In their self-absorbed little tantrums Lorence and Hemingway fail to appreciate a simple truth. The real victims are not the photographer, the florist and the baker. The real victims are the gay couples who were denied service.