The Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case will be far more influential than it should be. The key question is fairly easily answered and agreed upon by all sides on most other issues concerning freedom of association.
We seem to agree that Twitter should be allowed to limit racists’ expression, as it does not wish to be associated with that message. We understand why they choose not to verify white supremacist leaders, as that may provide the appearance of endorsement. We do not blame any business choosing not to host or participate in hateful activities.
Without comparing the two, it should be simple to appreciate why religious people who deeply oppose socially changing marriage to include same-sex couples would not wish to endorse or participate in a same-sex wedding.
No gay person has been discriminated against or denied a service offered by any business in question within the last several years of cases. Twitter more directly denies its public services to individuals based on being identified as associating with hateful groups than cake shops have denied gay couples access to their services. Masterpiece Cakeshop, as with many caterers, florists, and photographers, has merely declined to participate in an event or associate their brand with that event.
Why do LGBT activists perceive this as a direct attack on the validation of their relationships? It seems logical that a person would not wish to give money to another person who morally disapproves of their behavior. I would not seek employment or request a table at a Planned Parenthood event and expect them to accommodate me. Why would I help them raise money or support their business model? If I encountered an individual morally uncomfortable with participating in an activity with me and my boyfriend, such as couple photos or planning a party, it would be uncomfortable for me to force her.
It’s Not About Logic, It’s About Validation
The issue at hand is not one of reason, but one of validation. The LGBT Left has become obsessed with complete acceptance from the public in all areas. It isn’t enough that same-sex marriage is legal, despite the wishes of many people in many states. Those people must celebrate same-sex marriages or be shamed in public. Many gay people genuinely feel personally attacked when faced with an individual who does not approve of their sexual behavior.
Let’s take a moment to look at the issue from the gay couple’s side. If I were to go into a photography shop and request a booking to capture a special event with my boyfriend, for example, and the cashier said “Oh, I’m sorry, but we do not photograph same-sex couples,” I would admittedly be taken aback.
For one, I would be completely shocked by the abnormality of the reaction. I traveled recently, and at many security points along the way authorities inquired about my relationship status. I used the word “boyfriend” without hesitation and absolutely no one blinked twice. I have come to assume normalcy in my day to day life.
It is this very emotion the Left is mostly concerned about. The moment of rejection and the realization one has been rejected solely on his sexuality is the most troubling aspect. The LGBT world has built itself on a foundation of overcoming rejection of its legitimacy, so is hyper-sensitive towards even the hint of it. Much of the LGBT Left’s inner-circle dialogue focuses on hypothetical situations in which rejection happens and the individual or group triumphs over it. When it happens in real life, it is a sudden and powerful validation of who they are, and winning in spite of bigotry is a valuable prize.
Yet this is such a rare event that when it does happen the LGBT world unites in outrage, each reliving what they imagine the rejection would feel like and contributing to the emotional outpouring of anger and support. It is why something as simple as “You could always go to another shop” enrages them so intensely. The very notion they should have to at all validates the hate they believe surrounds them daily.
Refusing Service to Gays Is Not Like Refusing It to Blacks
It is also fairly reasonable to assume that if an interracial couple reported similar treatment, the vast majority of the population would be outraged in exactly the same way. We have all grown up with imagery of black people being discriminated against by cruel shop owners, and if we were to hear of this happening would quickly relive the strong emotions we felt when first witnessing it in fiction. I can certainly recall the anger, sadness, and desire to protect I experienced watching civil rights movies as a child.
A fundamental goal of the Left is to associate rejection of LGBT with the rejection of black Americans and shame accordingly. The only problem is the rejection is in no way similar or rooted in the same source. The objection to homosexuality is profoundly different than racism and we cannot lump the two together due to our cultural evolution on both subjects.
We oppose both anti-LGBT bigotry and racism, but anti-LGBT bigotry and racism are not the same things. A person who religiously opposes same-sex marriage is not acting out of malice or bigotry. They are honoring their deeply held religious beliefs. Their personal feelings in no way obstruct the same-sex couple from pursuing their relationship or marriage.
Let’s look at the Christian cake maker. Why would baking a cake be such a profoundly significant act? The issue is, of course, not the act of making the cake but of associating with the activity the cake will be used for.
Orthodox Jews are careful not to drink wine from bottles held or sold by non-Jews. Why? Is it an act of prejudice or hatred? No. They believe the non-Jew is just as religious and faithful to their gods as the Orthodox Jew is to his, and they assume the non-Jew was thinking about enjoying his wine in honor of said gods. The Orthodox Jew does not want to drink that same wine and accidentally honor other gods in turn.
The Christian baker is not rejecting the gay couple, but politely declining to participate in a celebration he feels violates his promises to honor his god. The cake will be used to celebrate the event. Its only purpose is to honor and consecrate the union. Our culture views eating the wedding cake as public confirmation of the joy of marriage. It is why we share the cake with all of our friends and family who attend to celebrate with us. It is a meaningful cultural act. If it were not so, the same-sex couple would not be so offended.
These Rules Also Force Religious Folks Into Hypocrisy
Beyond that, if a Christian professes to support biblical ideals of marriage but is seen as associating his brand with same-sex marriages, it could be perceived as an act of hypocrisy. There is a Jewish prohibition against even appearing to break a commandment and possibly lead other Jews to sin.
A Jew is prohibited from eating shrimp, for example. Imitation shrimp is available, and is perfectly kosher. However, if other people were to see a good Jew eating what they believe is shrimp, it may undermine their opinion of the Jew’s dedication and faith. They may look poorly on all Jews and question Jewish religious tradition. Other Jews may choose to eat real shrimp believing it to now be permissible because they watched the good Jew eat the fake shrimp.
A Christian cannot allow the current culture to erode away her faith over time, little by little. She must stand strong for herself, for her god and for other Christians. Just because society wants her to celebrate same-sex weddings does not mean she should abandon her principles to do so. The baker would not be able to disassociate his business from the same-sex wedding and thus involuntarily be participating in it and associating his reputation and name with the celebration.
The Battle Between Faith and Feelings
This issue is a battle between the emotional reaction to being rejected and the personal desire to honor faith and religious obligation. In my example, although I would be taken aback by a rejection, I would feel it is my responsibility to choose another photographer rather than force another person to violate her faith for my satisfaction.
What if a security officer refused to allow me on a plane because he disapproved of my relationship? Wouldn’t allowing discrimination lead to this consequence? I do not believe we can restrict the rights of some to prevent an unlikely occurrence based on a hypothetical scenario. It is simply ridiculous for me to fear that reaction, and if it happened that person’s supervisor would quickly intervene.
The outcome of this case matters because it will determine how everyone is required to associate themselves regardless of how they feel in the future. As is usually the case, the Left cannot conceive of the cage they are locking themselves in to trap their enemies. This is not a civil rights issue, but one of freedom for all.
I do not want Twitter to be forced to endorse racists, and I do not want the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop to be forced to violate his faith for another person’s celebration. It really should be that simple.