retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB took note the other day of an Associated Press report that a Colorado administrative law judge has ordered a Denver-area baker to make a wedding cake for a gay couple's wedding, despite the fact that the baker said that making such a cake would force him to go against his Christian faith.

According to the story, "The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against shop owner Jack Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission last year on behalf of Charlie Craig, 33, and David Mullins, 29. The couple was married in Massachusetts and wanted a wedding cake to celebrate in Colorado.

"Mullins and Craig wanted to buy a cake in July 2012, but when Phillips found out the cake was to celebrate a gay wedding, he turned the couple away, according to the complaint."

The attorney for the baker said that the order forces him to violate his religious conscience, but the judge said that even private enterprises cannot discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation.

My comment:

Discrimination is discrimination, and one should no more be able to refuse to sell to a gay couple than to an African-American couple. I know there are arguments about religious freedom, but it seems to me that people not be able to use religion as an excuse for intolerance. Besides, would it have killed the bakery to make the cake? The owners weren't be asked to be gay, or to be in a gay marriage, or to witness a gay marriage, or to vote for legislation that would allow gay marriage. They were just being asked to make a cake.

To be honest, when I first thought about this story, I did have a few minutes when I thought that it would've been nice for the gay couple to simply have gone to another bakery, and for the ACLU not to have been involved. It would have been nice, it would have been less confrontational, and everybody would've been happy.

But not really. Because discrimination is wrong, illegal and intolerable. And sometimes, people have to take a stand, and positions have to be maintained.

One MNB user wrote:

Wow I couldn’t disagree more with your view or with the judge who ordered the baker to bake the cake for the gay couple. Full disclosure: I have no issue with gay people. My oldest sister is gay and I love and support her in any way I can. But you can’t legislate intolerance out of every person, that’s just ridiculous.

This baker runs a PRIVATE business and should be allowed to run it in a manner that allows him to stand up for his principles. While I don’t applaud his principles, I do applaud him for trying to stick to those principles. You even state in your view that “positions have to be maintained”. So it’s ok for the gay couple to stand their ground but not the baker because it’s a position YOU don’t agree with?

To be clear … whether it is productive or not, both sides had a right to stand their ground. The judge decided which side was legally correct.

And while you may not be able to legislate intolerance out of every person, you can legislate against intolerant activity.

From another reader:

I must strongly disagree with your view on this issue. People should have the right to serve those they want to. If it was a public entity, fine, but this is not. What are the limits of discrimination in the hearts of people stand up to their beliefs? Should this owner have to bake cakes for an abortion center, a white supremacist group, etc? Once again, INDIVIDUALS have rights within their lives and businesses to stand up for what they believe. If this was the ONLY cake place in town or was somehow cause injury to these men, you would have an argument. That is simply not the situation in this case.

Except that people don't have the right to choose who they serve based on certain criteria. Or, we'd still have hotels and restaurants that would not accept African-American customers.

And from another:

The analogy of an African American couple and gay couple is a false comparison. The issue is not one of skin color or sexual preference, it is the forcing of an individual to violate their belief that marriage is ordained by the Creator to be between one man and one woman.

Again … nobody asked the baker to engage in gay marriage, officiate at a gay marriage, or even attend a gay marriage. Just to bake a cake.

And another:

You are just flat out wrong regarding this ridiculous Judgement!

Next thing you will expect is for a serious Minister of the Gospel that truly understands what the Bible has to say about this issue to be FORCED to perform Gay weddings!

I believe to each his own, but for a Judge to force someone to go against their legitimate religious belief is an affront to Freedom of Religion as much as you and the secular Media's stance on supposed tolerance.

You can't have it both ways Kevin. RIDICULOUS.

I think it is a long jump from saying that a business has to serve everyone to saying that a minister or priest has to officiate at a same-sex wedding. And, in fact, I would never support such a position.

Also…the Bible says a lot of things that seem out of step with the way the world works. Like it sanctions slavery. And the putting to death of people who work on the Sabbath. (One can only imagine what the Bible would've said about people who are forced to work on Thanksgiving.)

And one other thing. "Secular" is defined as "denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis," and as "not subject to or bound by religious rule; not belonging to or living in a monastic or other order."

You'll probably disagree with me on this, but I want the mainstream media to be secular. There clearly is room for a religious media, but the big guys … they should be secular.

I very much liked this email from someone I know who is gay and is married to her partner; they have been in a loving and committed relationship for more than 20 years.

Here's the thing I don't understand - were we to have a "real" wedding, I don't think I would have any interest in going to a bakery that discriminates. Whether it's because of religion, sexuality, political views....Why even even give these narrow minded folks a platform to preach their hate? And by suing them they get their platform.

Of course, anytime I hear someone talk about having their Christian values compromised I think of my dad - who I'm fairly certain believes Jesus would bake the cake himself.

I'm a bit torn on my inability to angry about the bigots.

To me, this email represents much of what I was thinking when I first saw the story. While I was irritated by the discrimination and what I saw as intolerance, my first thought was that it was a shame that the gay couple did not simply go to another bakery, and that the ACLU got involved … that perhaps they should've just turned the other cheek and moved on … that one should not let acts of bigotry interfere with a marriage, which is an act of love.

But I'm not always good at turning the other cheek. Sometimes I do want to punch the other guy in the nose.

But this email, which strikes me as highly enlightened, makes the point that sometimes, even in the face of intolerance, all you need is love.
KC's View: