On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear, or “granted cert,” a case regarding a baker refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. This case is will set precedent on issues much bigger than meets the eye. This case is not about rights for same-sex couples, it is about the first amendment and workers’ rights.
This case comes out of Colorado, where the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Jack Phillips, refused to bake the cake while citing religious reasons. According to the Daily Signal: “Phillips declined to create a wedding cake, citing his faith: “I don’t feel like I should participate in their wedding, and when I do a cake, I feel like I am participating in the ceremony or the event or the celebration that the cake is for,” he said. “The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the suit against Masterpiece Cakeshop in 2012. Previous to the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the case, a judge ruled against the cake shop, stating that they discriminated against the couple due to their sexual orientation. While this does appear to be the primary issue within the case, it alludes to much bigger issues, and could set precedent for many other first amendment issues to come.
The root of the issue is the expectation of Jack Phillips to perform an action that is against his religion. The first amendment provides citizens a right to free speech and to practice any religion that they want to, and no one should be forced to perform an action that directly goes against this. To rule in favor of the couple and the ACLU, one must agree that a business cannot refuse service to a customer for any reason that could be considered discriminatory, which is entirely subjective. Businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone, although we do have anti-discrimination laws in place as well. In turn, you are taking away the rights of a worker or business owner to their own labor. If someone doesn’t even have a right to their own labor, then what do they have? In an extreme scenario, this skates a line regarding slavery. This is the government artificially giving complete rights to the consumer. This allows the government to use coercion to force a business into providing their product or service.
This was a discussion within the Libertarian party throughout the 2016 election. In a debate, Austin Petersen called out Gary Johnson for his opinion on this issue, where he sided with the couple and said a business should not be able to discriminate based on religious reasons. Austin asked “Would you force a jewish person to bake a Nazi cake?” to which Gary Johnson said he would. As Austin pointed out, the government cannot stamp out bigotry, and it isn’t the government’s job to make us into better people. This violates the free market that our economic principles were founded on.
As a woman, if someone were to discriminate against me, I wouldn’t want the government to force them to serve me and take my money, I would find another place of business to frequent. While this religious practice is not discrimination, it is the responsibility of the individual to stand up to discrimination within their community. Discrimination is wrong, but let the free market get rid of them. If a business owner wants to discriminate against part of their customer base, then they are actively choosing to isolate those customers and lose their business. If you don’t like their practices, then don’t shop there. Why would this gay couple want the government to force the man who is, in the couples’ minds, openly discriminating against them to take their money and do them a service? The beauty of the free market is that we have the option, usually many options, of where to shop at, so utilize it. If you don’t like Target and their stance on bathrooms, then don’t shop there. If you don’t like that Ben and Jerry’s endorsed Bernie Sanders, then don’t buy their ice cream. If you don’t like that Jack Phillips disagrees with your lifestyle, then don’t buy your wedding cake from him. Utilize the free market.
This is not a gay or straight issue, it is a fundamental issue regarding freedom of religion and the rights of workers to their labor, and siding with the couple is wrong and a violation of one’s religious freedom.
Follow this author on Twitter: @shannadnelson
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