Whenever I see something particularly interesting, even about a topic about which I have written before, I rejoice for now I have something to put on my blog that requires little effort or creativity on my part. This is because I am very lazy, and I cloak my sloth with the pretense of being humble and directing the reader towards those of greater intelligence or writing skill than myself (although those things may well be completely true).
So, the other night, I actually wandered by Althouse’s blog on my feedly, and stumbled upon this entry: A surprisingly sympathetic article about the asserted right to decline to make [wedding paraphernalia] for a same-sex wedding.
This put me in mind of a part of a very long essay by John C. Wright, who happens to be my favorite living author. I shall excerpt the particularly relevant portion:
Turning from this arid area of speculation to a more practical matter, the next question is whether there is a civil right by which a sodomite couple wishing to purchase the services of cake-bakers and wedding photographers and wedding planners, rent chapels or halls, or call upon Christian Churches to solemnize their vows of sodomy, must be served.
If a wedding dress tailor refuses to sew a pair of bridal gowns for a pair of lesbians wishing to enter into an unnatural, abominable, and truly sad and pathetic mockery of marriage, is that tailor the same as a clerk or cook refusing to serve Negros at a department store counter or diner?
The difference is so painfully obvious that I have trouble bringing myself to believe all Liberals and an embarrassing number of conservatives do not grasp the answer.
Our friend the Libertarian would say that the clerk and shopkeeper for any reason or no reason has the right to deny service to anyone, either due to the customer’s race or for any motive, fair or foul, honest or hateful, full stop. Let us consign that answer, for better or worse, to an academic discussion having no bearing on the present case. The fact of reality is that this is not the law as it stands in the United States in the current generation. There are abundant court cases confirming the interpretation of the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment as granting to any potential customer a right to be served or sold any good or service offered to the general public, not to be denied on the basis of race.
Now, nothing in the civil rights law says that if a man offers firearms for sale to the public, he is required to sell a gun to a member of a minority who tells him he means to use the weapon to rob a bank.
Nothing in the law says that a house-painter who offers his skills to the public is required to accept a job from a member of a minority who asks him to paint graffiti on the Washington Monument, or a mustache on the Statue of Liberty.
Nothing in the law says that a tap dancer who offers his skills to the public is required to accept a job from a member of a minority who asks him to trample the crucifix, or burn the flag, or spit on his mother’s face.
Indeed, nothing in the law requires me, a writer who offers his skills to the public, to accept a job from a member of a minority to follow his orders to pen a 3000 word document containing nothing but blasphemy against my God, treasonous sentiments against my nation, or filthy insults against my wife.
This is simply not what the civil rights law says and not what it is meant to say.
When a baker or a tailor or a Church renting a hall to a pair of sodomites whose express the intention to make a mockery of the sacrament of marriage and desecrate it, a faithful Christian cannot aid, participate, or assist this desecration, lest the sin be his. He is not asking Caesar to draw the sword of the magistrate to prevent the desecration — our First Amendment as a matter of law makes all protection of sacred things to be a private matter, handled, if at all, by the customs and non-coercive mechanisms of courtesy and shame — he is merely asking Caesar to be excused from doing that which his religion forbids, that is, namely, materially aiding and abetting in the commission of a notorious and public sin.
It simply baffles me that I hear few or no conservatives address this argument. The baker, under our current laws, has no right to refuse to sell a gay man a cookie if such cookies are offered for sale to the general public. This is because selling a cookie is not prohibited by the baker’s religion, or else he would not be offering them for sale to the general public. The florist willing to sell a wreathe to a gay man holding a funeral again violates no stricture of religion. But asking the baker to bake a wedding cake or the florist to make a bridal arrangement to celebrate a gay so-called wedding does clearly and unambiguously propose that the baker and the florist aid and abet the desecration of the marriage sacrament.
No matter what the civil rights laws say, the First Amendment clause concerning the free exercise of religion overrules this. If the florist or the baker is being asked to desecrate something their religion holds sacred, they have a right not to be forced to participate, the same right they have not to be forced by public law to offer incense to an idol.
Any law that requires a man to trample a crucifix, or burn a Torah, or make and worship and image of Mahound, is null and void as a matter of primary Constitutional principle, and enjoys an endless line of court cases to support this construction.
Note, please, that this is a non-issue as far as real gays and lesbians are concerned: any of them can find a Jewish or Anglican or Unitarian baker or a florist, or a lapsed Catholic. The non-Christians and lukewarm Christians and lapsed Christians by such astronomical numbers outnumber the serious, practicing Christians who might voice a serious objection to the desecration of marriage, that a pervert couple who actually just wants a cake or a floral wreathe can easily obtain it, and no one stands in their way, not in America, not in this generation.
Only those who are seeking to make an issue out of it, to pick a fight, to disturb the public peace, and to trample the Constitution in the name of all-inclusive diversity (or whatever the bafflegab non-word of the day is today) have the time and patience to track down the practicing Christian bakers and florists to demand they publicly humiliate their faith by betraying Christian teaching.
So the legal argument that civil rights are being offended fails both as a matter of law, since the Free Exercise Clause is controlling legal authority, and as a matter of practical fact, since the matter only comes up for perverts seeking to be offended by hunting out those rather few Christians with faith enough and loyalty enough to defy the perverts and turn away their business.
And only their business in this one area: the bakers and photographers and florists and hall renters will sell and rent to them their skills and facilities for any other purpose other than a wedding.
The Christians will happily bake birthday cakes and sew confirmation dresses and rent halls for gay dances or any other purpose whatsoever, because we have no objection to sinners existing. We are all sinners. But the Christians would also refuse to bake cakes, sew dresses, take photographs, and rent halls to a man marrying his sister, or a man marrying as two wives, or a man marrying a child.
We do not refuse to participate in desecrating marriage because we hate desecrators, but because we love marriage.
It is because marriage is sacred, a thing established by God whom we dare not disobey, not because sinners are sinful, that we ask you to take your business elsewhere. It has nothing to do with you. It is not all about you.
Get over yourself. Unglue your eyes from the looking glass, Narcissus. Snap out of it.
All we ask is that you not compel us to participate in your blasphemies and desecrations when you commit them. All we ask is to be left in peace.
So the Fourteenth Amendment argument fails because the cases are not parallel between a baker who refuses to be hired (and it does not matter who hires him, gay or straight) to help celebrate a gay wedding that desecrates his religious faith, and a baker who refuses to bake anything for Black customers. The first is protected by the Free Exercise Clause and the second is not.
And yes, that is just the particularly relevant portion. I did say that long essay is long.
A commenter at Althouse points out that gay-rights activists do not, of course, hold the same opinion that religious beliefs must be put aside when dealing with the public – their moral belief that homosexual behavior is righteous is sacrosanct. Freedom of religion and morality for me and not for thee: not that this is news, considering conservatives have been pointing out the blatant hypocrisy and narcissism of gay activism attempting to use the power of government to get their way from the very beginning.
Which goes back to a fundamental issue, I think: that law is based on shared morality, shared culture, and in order for there to be peace, there must be solid fences between neighbors, so that each culture may go its own way. The differing minority will always be “oppressed” by the majority, but this is not because the majority is doing anything out of malice. They simply wish to arrange the legal climate and social contract in the way that seems best to themselves. That others disagree on some points is why small-government libertarian types laud federalism, so that individuals may form independent communities in a way that suits themselves and their own morals and preferences, and no one will be forced to do anything against his conscience.
Make no mistake – using the power of government to force an artist to make a work of art that desecrates his faith, in an environment where there are many similar artists who do not share that faith that could be patronized instead, is an act of rank and blatant oppression, motivated by nothing less than utter malice and lacking in any kind of decency or true tolerance.
Part of why Jim Crow laws were so abhorrent is that they codified and supported an attitude that justified interfering in another human being’s ability to work and support himself. Racist white communities could excuse their exclusion of blacks from obtaining the basic fundamentals of life – food, shelter, work – by saying they could just go elsewhere. Actual anti-homosexual bigots could excuse their exclusion of gays and lesbians from society by saying they could just be discreet and stay in the closet, or celibate, or engage in sham marriages to keep up appearances, and thereby be secure in their employment and welcome in the community.
This reasoning is rightly to be abhorred, and it just goes to show that humans are rationalizing animals rather than logical animals that gay activism is now using the “stay closeted and nothing bad will happen to you” argument in order to justify their harassment of individuals with differing religious opinions. After all, if closets are licit means of dealing with differing opinions, it’s far more likely that the more numerous group will force the minority into the closet. And there are always going to be more heterosexuals than homosexuals, feminism’s attempt to turn all women into lesbians notwithstanding.