In the United States, bakeries the nation over have become the new “front” in the fight for equality for the GLBT community that is rapidly turning into a fight to maintain the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.
In several states over the last year or two, bakeries have refused to bake cakes for gay weddings, stating that “gay marriage” is against their religious beliefs and that they have a right to practice those religious beliefs even at work, therefore they are not required to bake a cake for a gay couple.
One bakery in Colorado refused to bake cakes for Halloween and bachelor parties because these too violate their religious beliefs. They seemed to imply that since no one is suing them to force them to bake cakes for these occasions, this proves it is a religious belief and therefore protected under the First Amendment.
There’s only one problem. The analogy doesn’t fit.
When one refuses to bake cakes for Halloween or bachelor parties, they’re not baking them for ANY Halloween or bachelor party, whether gay or straight. However, they DO back wedding cakes for straight couples and refuse to do so for gay couples. That is blatant discrimination and the First Amendment does not grant a public business the right to discriminate.
There are religions that are still being practiced today in which the belief exists that the races are not meant to “intermix”. Interracial marriages are against their faith and yet not once has it been reported that a bakery refused to bake a cake for an interracial couple. (There was a judge/justice of the peace in Louisiana who, in 2009, refused to marry an interracial couple because he did not believe in interracial marriages and there was a massive public outcry, even from those who support the ban on gay marriages that exist in most of the states of this nation.) This kind of discrimination is not tolerated in society anymore, although it was only in 1968 that the US Supreme Court overturned the laws that banned marriage between blacks and whites in the Loving v Virginia case.
There are religions who do not believe in interfaith marriages, yet there are no stories about bakeries who refuse to bake cakes for an interfaith couple. It is understood that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and their own religion and that what one does in one’s personal life (ie, marrying someone of a different faith) is not up to anyone but the persons involved.
But apparently, there are those who believe it is their right to impose their religious beliefs on others through the refusal of services based on “deeply held religious beliefs”. In order to “protect” this “right”, many states are seeking to pass “religious liberty” laws that essentially gives someone the “right” to discriminate against anyone who violates their “deeply held beliefs.”
Where does this “right” end? It is my deeply held religious belief that left-handed people are agents of Satan (don’t laugh: that was once a widely held belief and it is one of the main reasons that we shake hands with our right hands and not our left!) Does that mean I can refuse to serve anyone who is left-handed? What if I am a doctor and it is my deeply held religious belief that single mothers are violating God’s laws? Am I allowed to refuse to treat single mothers? What if I’m a loan officer at a bank and I think that interracial people are abominations (a word often used by some Christians to describe gays)? Am I allowed to refuse to provide a loan to an individual who is Asian and black? What if I’ve got a house to rent and I believe that anyone who drinks alcohol is violating God’s laws? Am I allowed to evict my tenant if I see him/her drinking a beer?
Every single person in this world has the right to live his or her life as s/he sees fit according to the beliefs they hold dear. However, in order to create a society, there is really only one way in which everyone’s right to live this kind of life can be respected, and that is by voluntarily limiting your own actions so they don’t interfere with everyone else’s rights. But since some in society won’t do that, governments are created to make sure they do by passing laws against things like murder, rape, theft, assault, etc.
Forbidding discrimination is NOT violating someone else’s religious beliefs because providing a service to someone does not imply acceptance of, endorsement of, agreement with or condoning of their beliefs or their “lifestyle” (being gay is not a lifestyle, but that’s another article). Simply because one bakes a gay couple a cake for their wdding does NOT mean that one supports homosexuality, that one agrees with gay marriage, that one condones homosexual relationships or that one endorses the “gay agenda” (which doesn’t really exist but that too is another article). It simply means that one is not allowed to impose his/her religious beliefs/standards on others.
There is no need to create laws to protect “religious liberty” because that is already done in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The “religious liberty” laws that are being written and enacted right now are nothing more than legalizing discrimination, something which we’ve been slowly eliminating over the years by recognizing the violation of the rights of women and other minorities and correcting those violations through laws. To now turn around and write legalized discrimination into the law is a step backwards and is blatantly unconstitutional.