In the debate over the right of same-sex marriage opponents to refuse working gay weddings, LGBT advocates have consistently emphasized that one person’s religion must never override someone else’s civil right to public accommodation. I’m OK with that.
But to me, the relevant aspect of the First Amendment is not the religious free-exercise clause – it’s the free-speech guarantee that everybody can proclaim their ideas however they want, with no government compulsion to express any particular opinion.
Same-sex marriage supporters have questioned how baking cakes or taking photographs is a celebration of someone else’s beliefs. Perhaps the following questions will demonstrate precisely how forcing marriage traditionalists to accommodate same-sex weddings makes them endorse another person’s viewpoint:
• Should it be legal for a baker who opposes gay marriage to write in icing on all the same-sex wedding cakes she bakes, “Marriage = One Man, One Woman” instead of “Mazel Tov Adam and Steve” or whatever?
• Could a photographer legally show up to a gay marriage wearing a large button emblazoned with the Bible verse from Leviticus 18:22 prohibiting same-sex relations?
• Must the government tolerate a Christian caterer asserting “This is not a real wedding” to every guest he serves?
• Could a wedding band change the lyrics of a song like “Born This Way” to “Not Born Gay,” or from “I’m Coming Out” to “Please Go Back In” with no statutory repercussions?
If LGBT supporters answer “no” to the above questions, then it becomes perfectly clear they are intent on silencing dissent, not equal public accommodations. If their answers are “yes,” then traditionalists have an easy out when a couple – or the government – forces them to celebrate an event they abhor: just follow one of the suggestions above.
I’m certainly not telling man-woman marriage supporters hired for gay weddings to shout “God Hates Fags!” during the ceremony. There’s no need to be nasty. But if same-sex couples learn more traditionally-minded contractors are prepared to do just that if compelled to work the event, their gay bookings will dry up quickly – which is precisely the point. Gay couples who don’t want their weddings ruined will have to find a vendor who doesn’t object to same-sex marriage.
But aren’t people obliged to fully honor contracts? Sure, but no business should be strong-armed into signing a contract that demands expression of any specific idea. And if a government does currently make every wedding vendor accept all commissions? Well, that’s a great argument for the recent controversial laws to protect people from being forced to serve gay weddings.