Current Events

This and That: A Scatter Graph of Opinions, Part I

One of the fun things about having a blog is that I get to talk about anything I want. I know I tend to post lots of links to other articles and those are probably more political than some would like. I only link to things that are important to me though, so I hope everyone can grin and bear it. At least I’m not required reading!

I was going to address several topics, but the first one went on for so long, I’m just giving you that. I’ll get around to others later. These are touchy subjects. Agree, disagree, or gripe as you will. No name calling please.

Same Sex Weddings and Your Business

Yeah, let’s jump right into the hard stuff, right? To start, it does seem that same-sex marriage is going to be a cultural staple in our society. This is a Good Thing, methinks. Marriage in general seems to be a calming, stable influence in society. As people mature, they put aside the impulses and experimentation of youth and find contentment in building deep relationships and in giving back to children and society.

That’s not to say that young folks don’t have strong relationships and are not generous. Far from it – youth carries idealism, strength, and enthusiasm, along with wild party nights. And I’m not putting any age restraints around the term youth. If you want to party well into your sixties, go for it. Me, I’m probably in bed.

So anyway, a lot of people seem to like the idea of marriage, at some point in their lives. This is not restricted to only male-female couples. Heck, it’s not even restricted to just couples. Some people find great satisfaction in numbers higher than two. The definition of marriage has been changing over the last several decades and there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. It will change more before it’s done.

I will say again that marriage, in all its incarnations, is generally a Good Thing in society. It needs to be available to all, with the same benefits and responsibilities shared by all who participate in the state of marriage.

This does mean that every American citizen and resident must respect the marriages of every other citizen and resident. You don’t have to like it, of course. Pout all you want. Just pout to yourself. But does this mean that your bakery business has to make a wedding cake for a couple you don’t approve of? For a marriage that deeply offends your private religious beliefs?

Well now… you know something? Those are two different questions. If the local pimp swaggers into your store and orders a cake for his wedding to his hottest worker – who will continue to work after the wedding – I’m gonna give you a pass. You can plead that you’re too busy. You can say you’re not taking orders for the date they want because you’ll be out of town. Heck, if you’re certain he won’t shoot up your shop, you can even tell him you don’t want to work with him. I think you’re safe legally, because in general, you do get to pick your clients. I’m pretty sure there’s no law that says you have to do business with every person who walks in the door.

What you cannot do is refuse service based on the person’s religion, gender, or sexual orientation. I’m pretty sure pimps aren’t in any of those categories, at least as pimps. He is in one of the categories (male in this case), but you’re not turning away any other males based on their maleness, and that’s not why you’re turning away this guy.

Maybe this is a silly example, but I’ve been a business owner. I worked in people’s homes and you can bet I would not have taken a client if I felt unsafe or uncomfortable in their home. I had that right. But I didn’t have the right to refuse to work for Jews or gays or blacks or whatever. My service was public and I could not discriminate.

So yeah, I come down on the side that a business owner must offer their services without regard to whatever their religious beliefs happen to be.

But let’s talk about the other side of this argument, which is why would a couple want to hire someone who disapproved of their wedding? I think this responsibility rests with the couple. You are hiring bakers, florists, photographers, whatever, and doggone it – one of your questions should be “will a particular professional have a conflict with taking your contract?” This might feel troubling, as it seems that you must acknowledge you are “different” when you ask that question. But I can use me as an example with this, too.

My husband and I are atheists. When we got married, we were very particular about who we hired to perform our ceremony. We didn’t want any religious overtones and we certainly didn’t want someone (not even a JP) who would disapprove of us and secretly wish us ill. Same with our photographer. We had wonderful friends who were very happy to handle these things for us, and that made everyone happy. But with the current adversarial climate, if I was gay and getting married, I’d make darn sure any professional I hired was happy to do the work. It’s my wedding, for cripes sake. I want happy vibes all around.

I’m actually sorry that this issue had to turn into a legal battle. It would have been better if everyone involved just acted civilly and admitted they weren’t a good match. But we can’t give business people carte blanche to turn away entire classes of people because they don’t want to serve them. We have an egalitarian society and we need to keep it that way, so I do think this is a battle that has to be fought.

The bottom line is that no matter what your religion is, baking a cake for a gay wedding is not going to interfere with your practice of it.

Pretending otherwise is just pouting.