Now, refusing to sell a bisexual a banana is not an expression of ideas in any way, and is already illegal in 21 states. As long as non-discrimination laws don’t impact the definition of marriage or people’s free-speech rights in any way, I don’t object to them. But the LGBT refrain that traditionalist American wedding vendors have been trying to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation is just not true. Overwhelmingly, they’re trying to defend their right to continue conveying exactly one idea about marriage and no other – that it’s a union of a man and a woman.
Of course some people think disagreeing with “marriage equality” is a terrible view that’s essentially identical to opposing interracial marriage. But the First Amendment exists precisely to protect the most obnoxious kinds of speech.
Perhaps it would be helpful to consider the reverse of the expression aspect of wedding services: Can LGBT bakers be made to write “Kids Do Best With Both a Mom and a Dad” in icing atop someone’s cake? Can a Jewish caterer be prohibited from ever mentioning she believes in only one God while she’s at a Hindu union? Can an African-American photographer at a white supremacist’s wedding wear a “Black is Beautiful” button if he chooses?
Most same-sex couples would like everyone to reinforce their belief that gay marriage is just as legitimate as straight marriage. I don’t begrudge them that wish. But they cannot force traditional people to smile, salute, and say, “Oh, yes! Brides and grooms are completely interchangeable.”
Not in America.
Supporters of same-sex marriage have exploited this controversy to paint themselves as victims of marriage discrimination when exactly the opposite is occurring. They want the government to punish people for the ideas they express – which in a free society is arguably worse than what gays claim to be facing, namely private individuals and businesses punishing them because of their identity.
Marriage traditionalists should start focusing narrowly on free expression, not religious freedom. Doing that helps clarify the truly coercive vendor-related goal of same-sex marriage supporters – and gives a pass to people who really, really don’t want to bake that cake.
David Benkof is a teacher and freelance writer, and a frequent contributor to the Daily Caller. E-mail him at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook.