The successful shutting down (or at least shutting up) of non-groupthink-compliant wedding cake and floral businesses has given gay-marriage agitators and their backers a taste of the vast power of ideological extortion in 2015 America.
I’m optimistic that the law will eventually come to its senses and give wide berth to Christians in the wedding trades, or even to non-Christian libertarians who simply don’t want to be told who they have to do business with. Perhaps James O’Keefe will covertly record owners of a black-owned florist shop being asked to create an arrangement for a “KKK” event, or a Muslim-owned catering service being asked to cater a Bar Mitzvah. But something will eventually jar the nation out of its deep-seated fear of not giving gay marriage complete affirmation by every citizen at the expense of religious freedom.
Sadly, as Charles Mackay observed in his acclaimed and academically popular “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” back in 1841, “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”
The Federal Bureau of Cakes
The problem right now is not so much the likelihood of random gay couples contacting random anti-gay-marriage wedding business owners for services they sincerely want, but of gay-marriage agitators and sympathetic media deliberately trying to make an object lesson out of those who refuse to toe the liberal line and affirm—celebrate!—general gayness and gay marriage without reservation. This is perfectly illustrated by the pummeling given to Memories Pizza, an Indiana shop that was unlikely to ever get the theoretical gay-marriage catering job they were asked about on South Bend TV.
Facing pressure in the court of public opinion is one thing, but having state or local authorities enforce “civil rights” legislation is another. “Sweet Cakes” bakery in Gresham, Oregon, could soon be hit with state-imposed fines of up to $150,000, a threat that goes far beyond stigma and ends up threatening its owners’ ability to practice their trade.
That something called the “Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries” could impose such a fine, bankrupt the bakery owners, and pay the award directly to the supposedly wounded “plaintiffs” is a development that those of us who grew up hearing tales of religious persecution and ideological purification behind the “iron curtain” can barely grasp is happening in America during our lifetimes.
Options for Conscientious Objectors
So what are small-business owners in the wedding trades who have a problem with gay marriage and happen to live in fascist states where they could be fined out of existence by authorities for “discrimination” supposed to do?
A friend of our family has spent years designing and sewing custom wedding dresses that have attracted a strong following. While not particularly religious, she’s concerned that redefining an institution that has existed for millennia will logically lead to state recognition of multiple-partner marriages, children’s marriage, and as-yet-unconceived combinations based solely on “the right to love.”
She also sees the ultimate aim of some gay marriage proponents as destroying marriage as an institution altogether—something she believes would be disastrous for society and would harm her business.
She votes for candidates who take a stand she agrees with, and has quietly joined a pro-traditional family lobbying organization. Still, she doesn’t plan to turn down any future gay couple that decides her dresses are what they want for their event. Recent high-profile examples of small businesses getting negative publicity or facing regulatory interference for “standing on principle” have effectively frightened her into silence.
What about those who provide wedding services and believe that gay marriage is not just a bad idea for society, but consider it an “abomination”?
Consider the following tactics to help you comply with the law (or its interpretation) as it currently exists while keeping your wedding-services business open. The basic principles could even be adapted for wedding service providers of a libertarian bent.
Branding Is Everything
Labels are powerful things, as small wedding-services businesses who’ve been labeled as “bigots” or “homophobes” understand.
The secret in this situation is to be willing and able to comply with both community pressure and fascist agencies to do the work, but to brand and position your service in such a way that you’re unlikely to actually get business from those who demand accommodation despite your plainly stated convictions.
What am I talking about? Branding, baby! Imagine driving around town with a service van that reads:
Adam and Eve Photography
Specializing in Traditional Biblical Weddings
Below that, a favorite Bible verse: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them . . . And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’”—Genesis 1:27, 28
If you suspect such a mobile billboard will mark you as a ripe and immediate target for the gay-marriage mafia, you’re right. And at this point a game of chicken begins.
When you’re contacted to shoot the photos for a gay engagement or marriage, and know that TV cameras are waiting outside the shop to capture your evil, horrible, discriminatory response, you’ve got to be willing to say, with composure and sincerity: “Sure, Adam and Eve Photography will shoot any wedding, anywhere, anytime. It’s the law!”
Cake Baker? “Bread of Life” Bakery or perhaps “Manna from Heaven” Bakery. There are plenty of other Bible verses to put on your service van, as well, such as Romans 1:26-28, or Leviticus 20:13.
DJ? “Here at ‘Hetero Harmonies,’ we believe in the traditional union of one man and one woman, and our music library reflects the biblically sanctified roles God created in Eden. It’s all we do.” Throwing in a “Praise the Lord!” might not hurt, either.
Ideally, you’ll come up with some combination of overt biblical references that will both express your genuine religious convictions and repel those who expect you to bend to their will simply because they exist—while making it clear that you follow all applicable laws and regulations on the diversity of customers you are obligated to serve.
Would any gay couple actually hire you to show up in your Bible-thumping van? They could, and you’d have them sign an agreement that makes it clear that for marketing purposes you always wear a T-shirt with your business name and favorite Bible verse and distribute flyers under the windshield wipers of wedding guests—flyers that both summarize your services and outline your traditional-marriage beliefs.
Would gay-marriage-sympathetic hetero couples then boycott, or badmouth you enough to tank your business? Perhaps. But you will also attract other couples who agree with traditional marriage and want to stick it to the social engineers as much as you do.
Follow the Money
Donating some percentage of profits to environmental organizations has become a widespread marketing practice to attract lefties, those with a vague sense of guilt about Western prosperity, and even non-political consumers who think, “I like camping! Yay, streams and bears!” You, too, can use such affinity marketing to attract the customers you want and avoid the ones you don’t.
If you’re not currently a member of or contributor to national or state organizations that lobby for and promote traditional marriage, it’s time to join. And your business card, service van, website, estimate sheet, and invoices should all make it clear that you donate some percentage of profits to such organizations.
Nothing says you have to limit the advertising of your donations to pro-traditional marriage organizations. Proudly touting your membership in organizations like the National Rifle Association, Eagle Forum, and Heritage Foundation would likely repel much of the same crowd. And a service van plastered with bumper stickers for your favorite Republican candidates will function as garlic and crucifixes against those wanting to extract the blood cells and marrow of your conviction for their own political ends.
Turning the Wedding Tables
Would any gay couple really want to sully their special occasion by inviting such evil, bigoted, politically polarizing meanies (maddeningly engaged in the completely lawful expression of their views, by the way) to their event?
I don’t think so, but then the point was never to have you provide a service for them in the first place—it was to humiliate and marginalize you, scare others of your kind into silence, and deliver a side dish of state-sanctioned duress to help everyone start thinking correctly.
Confound these expectations, and refuse to read the script you’ve been handed. “Let your light so shine” as a business built on both biblical principles and personal freedom, and make the public and regulatory confrontation gay-marriage activists want end in peaceful acquiescence on your terms, not theirs.
In fact, an enterprising lawyer may be able to turn the tables on a gay-activist “plant” couple, once you agree to work for them, for refusing you their business on religious grounds once they realize how flamboyant you are about your religious views, and how willing you are to show up at their event and stink it up with political incorrectness. Having a standard policy of asking for half down will also help separate those who seriously want your services from those who simply want to embarrass you or push their political agenda forward.
Can activists or bureaucrats prevent you and your staff from showing up at a wedding you’ve been contracted to work with a t-shirt that says, “We donate to the National Organization for Marriage, supporters of religious liberty—nationformarriage.org”? Perhaps not yet, but if you have positioned your business honestly and sincerely in the marketplace, it will probably never come to that, anyway.
So you’re not political, or don’t want to market your business in a politically provocative way? For now, at least, you don’t have a choice to bow out of the controversy if you’re a wedding service provider with an objection to gay marriage, or a libertarian who believes in the right to decide who you want to work for. As Pericles said long ago (a truism small wedding-related businesses are increasingly realizing): “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”
Copyright © 2016 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved.