Arizona: A Right to Same-Sex Wedding Cake
by Clarence Page
Supporters insist it was not an anti-gay bill. But what else do you call a bill that uses religion to "protect" the right of businesses to discriminate against gay consumers?
Fortunately, the state's conservative Republican Gov.
But the issue is hardly going away. With similar "religious freedom" legislation pending in
As same-sex marriage has gained public, legislative and court approval at a much faster pace in recent years than anyone had much reason to expect, opponents have reframed the issue around the "religious freedom" argument and a powerful new symbol: the wedding cake.
As a result, there are numerous open-minded Christians, for example, who believe in equal rights for gay men and lesbians, yet still think gay marriage is a sinful corruption of a relationship ordained by God himself.
Those who call for tolerance of such views, while disagreeing with them, include blogger
"I would never want to coerce any fundamentalist to provide services for my wedding -- or anything else for that matter -- if it made them in any way uncomfortable," he writes in a recent blog post. "The idea of suing these businesses to force them to provide services they are clearly uncomfortable providing is anathema to me. I think it should be repellent to the gay rights movement as well."
I am reminded of how 50 years ago a dramatic confrontation erupted between police and civil rights protesters who were picketing a barber shop in
That law's public accommodations clause outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters "and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce," except private clubs.
As an African-American teen who lived near that town at the time, I was bemused as to why anyone would want to get their hair cut by a hostile barber. It is hard enough to find good haircuts from friendly barbers.
But the principle behind the protests was easily understandable to me. Racial segregationists used to make the religious argument, too, claiming that God must have meant the races to be separate or He wouldn't have made us look so different. But if you're going to open up a business to the public, you should be willing to treat every potential customer with equal respect, whether you agree with their views or not.