On March 7, World Net Daily became one of many conservative outlets to lament that a New Mexico couple, who had stated they would not photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony because it violated their religious beliefs, had lost their appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. SCOTUS wouldn’t take their appeal after they had lost at every level in the court system. So, Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, and their lawyer Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom, are SOL. WND’s Greg Corombos wrote the article, “Supremes ‘Serious’ About ‘Gay’ Suits vs. Christians.”
As usual, missing the point. The point is that states have public accommodation laws. If you open your business to the public, you must abide by them. The states include in those laws non-discrimination rules, such as against gender, nationality, or religion. Over half the states also include sexual orientation, including New Mexico. So, since this was clearly a refusal of service based on sexual orientation, they were violating the law by refusing service.
Whether or not those laws are Constitutional in light of the First Amendment I think remains to be seen / tested, though this rejection by SCOTUS would seem to indicate they think the laws are okay. And, as usual, I must ask the question if we’d even be talking about this if Elaine Photography had refused an interracial couple.
The reason I’m writing about this on the blog is that it has garnered 1421 comments. And, for the first time ever that I’ve seen, WND’s comment moderators actually wrote in someone’s comment.
The comment is by “moms4patriots,” and she wrote:
I saw one suggestion on another thread that I thought was brilliant. It may have some hidden flaws that I haven’t thought through yet, but at frist glance I don’t see any. These religious buisness owners could say to the same sex couple, “Look, the courts have ruled that I must serve you even if it violates my conscience, so I will do the job (whatever it happens to be) for you. However, because it does violate my conscience, I will not be able to keep any of the money that you pay me. Therefore I have decided to donate the profits from this job to the Family Research Council to fight for traditional marriage at the national level. If you still want me to photograph your wedding knowing this, then I will do the job for you, to the best of my ability.”
It got 52 up-votes. The moderators appended this to her comment: “Exceptionally rare Moderator’s note: We all agree this is brilliant! One thought: Make sure you tell the unhappy “couple” that you’ll be making the donation in their name.”
So, this is where I depart from perhaps my more liberal compatriots. Do I think people should be able to discriminate? No. You get into the slippery slope of letting them discriminate for “non-essential” services (wedding photography?) but not for “essential” services (hospital care?) but then needing to legally define whether every single service out there is essential or non-essential. It is much easier to just blankly say that public accommodations of any type can’t discriminate.
That said, I kinda like “moms4patriots”‘s suggestion. The reason is that I don’t understand why, if you know someone is only giving you a service like this (such as wedding photography, or baking a cake) because they legally must, and there are dozens of other businesses out there that provide the exact same service that don’t hate you because they think their invisible sky fairy says they should, why go to them? Go somewhere else.
I recognize that’s not always a possibility, especially in smaller towns and rural areas. But, for many of us, it is. Let bigots be bigots. Leave bad ratings for them on websites like Yelp, and tell your friends and rant about it on Facebook. But if the baker down the street does just as good a job and is flying a rainbow flag, why insist on the baker with the Jesus fish making your anniversary cake?