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Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Baker Refused to Make Your Wedding Cake?

Posted by on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Andrew Sullivan has some advice for same-sex couples who encounter discrimination at the hands bakers, wedding photographers, florists, caterers...

Yes, they may simply be homophobic, rather than attached to a coherent religious worldview. But so what? There are plenty of non-homophobic bakers in Arizona. If we decide that our only response to discrimination is a lawsuit, we gays are ratcheting up a culture war we would do better to leave alone. We run the risk of becoming just as intolerant as the anti-gay bigots, if we seek to coerce people into tolerance. If we value our freedom as gay people in living our lives the way we wish, we should defend that same freedom to sincere religious believers and also, yes, to bigots and haters. You do not conquer intolerance with intolerance. As a gay Christian, I’m particularly horrified by the attempt to force anyone to do anything they really feel violates their conscience, sense of self, or even just comfort.

So I’m with Big Gay Al, and always have been. Let bigots be bigots. Let gays be gays. And when those values conflict, let’s do all we can not to force the issue. We’re living in a time of drastic change with respect to homosexuality. It is perfectly understandable that many traditional-minded people, especially in the older age brackets, are disconcerted, upset and confused. So give them some space; instead of suing them, talk to them. Try seeing things from their point of view. Appeal to their better nature as Christians. And start defusing by your tolerance the paranoia and hysteria Roger Ailes lives off.

I kinda agree with Andrew. But I also kinda agree with Dom:

Activists and lawmakers hustled their butts for more than a decade to include sexual orientation in our state's anti-discrimination statute. We went to the mat to pass gay marriage. What's the point of those victories if we're willing to give up what we've just won? Who are those laws for if we turn our backs on the people being refused service? We didn't pass those laws as feel-good keepsakes for gay-ol' Seattle, where we don't need 'em. Those laws are essential for the gays toughing it out in the hateful hinterlands. Failing to sue would set a precedent that the anti-discrimination law—which Senator Cal Anderson fought his entire career to pass, it bears mentioning—isn't worth shit because the gays are too fucking cowardly to enforce it.

Still, some are mewling that lawsuits aren't the way to win the war of public opinion, that we should be fighting bigger battles. One of my friends said we should consider public accommodations to be necessities, like hospital visitation or lunch, but not flowers. But this isn't about flowers. It's about the Christian right seeing how far they can push this envelope. The line between trivial product and necessary service is an impossibly broad gray area. But if you believe same-sex marriage is a right, then consider the products and services that society defines as essential to that wedding. It's not a seat on the bus or a seat at the lunch counter—but it's just as important. It is a reception hall, a dress, a tux, a bouquet. We as a society wouldn't stand idly by if a stockbroker refused to take an investor simply because she's a woman or if a caterer refused to serve food for a community group because it comprises African Americans.

You could say I'm torn.

But here's a suggestion for all the hatey, butt-sore, anti-gay bakers in Arizona: start an organization—The Arizona Association of Homophobic Bakers—and publicly identify yourselves as homophobic bakers. Put up a website with a list of bakeries that don't want to do business with LGBT people. Put signs in your windows that clearly state that gay and lesbian customers are not welcome and will be turned away.

As Anderson Cooper pointed out earlier this week, gays and lesbians are not covered by existing anti-discrimination law in Arizona. So it's perfectly legal right now for bakers—and florists and caterers and photographers—to discriminate against LGBT customers. Discriminating against LGBT people was legal in Arizona before Jan Brewer vetoed the turn-away-the-gays bill, and it remains legal after her veto. So homophobic bakers who identify themselves as haters and bigots run no legal risk. They can't be sued by the individual gay people they discriminate against and the authorities can't fine 'em or shut 'em down. Don't want gay customers? Great. Let us know who you are. Put up a list online, hang signs in your windows, and we will take our business elsewhere.

The homophobic bakers of Arizona will do no such thing of course. Because hater bakers know that putting "We Don't Serve Gay People" signs in their windows will not only cost them our business—business they don't want—but also the business of our straight friends, family members, and neighbors. Business they do want. And they'll also lose the business of fair-minded straight people who think discrimination is wrong. And they'll lose the business of straight people who worry about where this kind of selective, hypocritical, faith-rationalized discrimination could ultimately lead.

But if homophobic bakers don't have the courage to put up a list—if they don't have the courage of their own sincerely-held, faith-based convictions—then LGBT activists in Arizona should do it for them. How many bakeries are there in Arizona? Can't be more than few hundred. Get a group of people together, call all the bakeries in the state, find out who doesn't want our business, and post the list online. Then encourage LGBT people and our friends, family members, and neighbors to consult that handy list of hater bakers before ordering wedding or birthday cakes.

That's not the way homophobic bakers want it to work. Or homophobic florists or photographers or caterers for that matter. They want to quietly and discreetly refuse to serve individual customers who happen to be gay without their other customers finding out. They wanna hate on the down low because they know that customers who may not be gay themselves—people who know and love LGBT people, customers who don't approve of discrimination on principal, other minorities who worry that they could be next—will take their business elsewhere.

 

Comments (87) RSS

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1
I completely disagree with Andrew. History is not made by well-behaved women, and rights are not won by polite minorities.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on February 27, 2014 at 12:34 PM · Report this
2
Does the existing law protect non-bigot business owners to fire bigot employees ? The law that was vetoed protects the employees' "religious right". So if an employee turned the gays away but not the owner, the owners cannot fire the employee b/c they might get sued by the employee ! Yet employers cannot ask potential employees' religious views (rightly so) under Civil Rights act even the employees are costing them customers. I don't hear that being debated during the whole thing
Posted by JaxBriggs on February 27, 2014 at 12:34 PM · Report this
3
A sign on the door saying "christian owned and operated" would be enough for people to make a choice whether to support the business or not.
Posted by jeffg166 on February 27, 2014 at 12:36 PM · Report this
4
Andrew gets it wrong here: "You do not conquer intolerance with intolerance."

The oft-repeated conservative line that the tolerant do not tolerate the bigots may sound fine to the ignorant, and Andrew seems to be casting his lot in with them.

But the law of non-contradiction requires the tolerant to be intolerant of the intolerant. Tolerance can't tolerate that which would destroy tolerance. Life can't tolerate death.

Never let this canard pass without being challenged.
Posted by Timothy http://www.moreperfect.org on February 27, 2014 at 12:40 PM · Report this
fletc3her 5
Certainly most people are just going to take their business elsewhere. And most homophobic business owners aren't going to be so outright. Instead they will cite delays or that they are too busy to take on additional jobs right now. I'm not a big fan of activist civil litigation. For example, calling every baker and then suing those who respond wrong. But, I do think that most of the cases I've heard about so far have been rather provocative. It is a mistake for the community not to respond to overt bigotry.
Posted by fletc3her on February 27, 2014 at 12:42 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 6
No Mr Sullivan, you missed the target this time. America is based on a few lofty ideals, one being equal treatment under the law. Throw that one out and you can start to throw out all the lofty ideals over time.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on February 27, 2014 at 12:51 PM · Report this
The Beatles 7
I think homophobic florists and wedding cake bakers should unite with all the homophobic interior decorators, stage choreographers, and figure skaters, with the same simple message: "Faggots, we don't want your kind here." There's clearly a niche market in there somewhere.
Posted by The Beatles on February 27, 2014 at 12:52 PM · Report this
8
The internet is a great tool for waging the war for equal rights. Google reviews are a great place to notify people which bakeries etc are homophobes. When people search, it will soon be revealed.

I totally disagree with Sullivan, we should not let bigots be bigots. Their bigotry needs to be pointed out to them. The only people we should make nice with are our allies. Not our secret allies, our real and out allies.
Posted by JJinAus on February 27, 2014 at 12:52 PM · Report this
Indighost 9
I think Andrew has it wrong too. He's a great guy but the thing is, the intolerance IS exacltly the thing we're fighting against.

The reason why we had the Civil War, the 1950s/60s forced integration etc., was to /force/ cultural acceptance of equality, because intolerant people were not going to get there on their own. They need (and still do need) a kick in the behind.
Posted by Indighost on February 27, 2014 at 12:54 PM · Report this
aureolaborealis 10
@1: History is not made by well-behaved anyone.
Posted by aureolaborealis on February 27, 2014 at 1:00 PM · Report this
11
What the homophobic business owners want, probably, is not for gays to avoid their business. They want gays to walk in and ask for service so they can puff out their chest, expound on their "religious principles," insult the gays to their faces, and order them to BEGONE, HERETIC FAGS! That's why they'll never put signs in their windows.
Posted by gkb1963 on February 27, 2014 at 1:02 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 12
4, I agree w/ ya, but let's get our definitions in order. Standing up to bullies is not bullying. Not allowing bigots to operate indiscriminately in the public sphere is not intolerance. Let's call it 'applying justice,' or 'exercising justice.' Or whatever way you apply the term. Just remind people that acts of bigotry, hate, bullying, are acts of injustice.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on February 27, 2014 at 1:05 PM · Report this
Matt Hickey 14
I think that the idea of a list of anti-gay businesses is a good idea, but they'll never make it themselves. They know they're in the wrong and don't want that out there.

Instead, I suggest the Register or Bigotry. If a gay couple can't get a cake at a Christian bakery, for example, that couple could add it to the Registry. The more times couples are discriminated against, the more times they're added. They are then ranked by a balanced Intolerance Score with the biggest bigots right on the top.

It would serve two purposes: 1) It would give the gays in Arizona a handy list of businesses to avoid, and 2) it would act as an effective mechanism of shame to hopefully force the offenders to quit being assholes. We can't change how they feel about gays, but we can change how they treat them.

(I understand that there is room for abuse with such a registry, but I'm sure that the minds who brought us Yelping and shit can figure out the details.)
Posted by Matt Hickey http://www.matthickey.com on February 27, 2014 at 1:16 PM · Report this
15
Sully means well, but he still has some Catholic-tinted blinders on in regards to some issues. This is one of them. He's still clinging to the idea that there are some people on the other side of any issue that you can sit down and have a reasonable, rational conversation with, even if the two sides are continents apart.

The homophobic bakers and florists do not want to have rational, reasonable conversations about marriage equality. They want gays to slink away quietly and not raise a fuss, which is exactly what Sully is proposing.

Dan hits it on the nose again. The homophobes should at least have the courage of their convictions. The Boy Scouts were at least open about not wanting gay scouts (and are still open about refusing gay scout leaders, but we're working on that). If the homophobic bakers and florists really don't want gay dollars, then let them stand up and say so. Or let them be labeled.
Posted by Action Kate on February 27, 2014 at 1:17 PM · Report this
Matt Hickey 16
Gah. Register *of* Bigotry. Hard to type when I've had this much coffee.
Posted by Matt Hickey http://www.matthickey.com on February 27, 2014 at 1:17 PM · Report this
Knat 17
@11: I think you're right. Or at best, do that Southern thing where you insult someone right to their face as politely and sweetly as you can, so you can feel superior in both ways.

Having a list available online of who's a bigoted business, especially one collected by the state? I can hear the comparisons to yellow badges already.
Posted by Knat on February 27, 2014 at 1:21 PM · Report this
18
Jeebus, can you imagine people in the black community advocating "tolerance" just because that redneck baker refuses to serve blacks? He's just an ignorant old redneck, why stir up the old civil rights wars again? If a bakery doesn't welcome black people, don't sue or make a fuss, the black community should just take its business elsewhere. I'm sorry as much as I like Sullivan, he's being daft on this issue. He needs to go listen to "I Have a Dream" again a few times. He can take his tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Me, I say now is the time.
Posted by hifiandrew on February 27, 2014 at 1:22 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 20
They want to quietly and discreetly refuse to serve individual customers who happen to be gay without their other customers finding out.


Given how easy it is to discriminate without anyone knowing about it, no, this is not true. The resumes and rental applications for black and Latino people very frequently wind up in the trash in this country.

Don't want to serve a gay couple? Come up with an excuse. In the wedding industry, this is as easy as saying that you're booked solid for that month. That the bigots are declaring exactly the reason for their discrimination shows that they're guileless or stupid or that they want people to know they're bigots. It's only people like this who get their asses handed to them, the quiet ones get a pass.
Posted by keshmeshi on February 27, 2014 at 1:37 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 21
@3
That is untrue. Plenty of Christians are NOT homophobes.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 27, 2014 at 1:40 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 22
I agree with Dan on this one. And it can even apply to stores in businesses in places that have anti-discrimination laws. Just have a sign saying something to the effect of "we are required by law to serve homosexuals but we do not like it. We think you're a disgusting group of people who are going to hell if you don't repent. By shopping here you are supporting people who hate your lifestyle."

That's it. No self respecting gay or bi person would EVER shop there, and neither would most forward thinking straight people. They go out of business for lack of customers, and all is right with the world.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 27, 2014 at 1:43 PM · Report this
23
Andrew Sullivan can go piss up a rope. His Republican slip is showing again. Tolerance for bigotry is ... bigotry. You are either the problem or the solution. There are shitloads of soft bigots out there who claim to be bigot-free but who are always clutching their pearls over the unseemly noisome "radicals" who just insist on bringing homophobia or racism or some such into every conversation. These are the truly dangerous people who will smile and wave at you on their way to casting their votes for loud and proud bigots who will fuck us up. The soft bigot will happily tsk tsk as they watch us being fucked up. Their hands are clean. So fuck you very much Andrew Sullivan. Dan, you are so right about everything except your kind of agreeing with that asshole. Snap out if it, Dan!
Posted by kwodell on February 27, 2014 at 1:49 PM · Report this
24
Although there's no statewide law including LGBT people in anti-discrimination statutes, many cities and other localities, including Phoenix, do include LGBT people in their anti-discrimination statute. So it is in fact illegal to refuse to serve LGBT people in those jurisdictions, and the state law, if not vetoed, would have overruled those local laws.
Posted by Shasa on February 27, 2014 at 1:53 PM · Report this
25
And what 19 says, too.

And stop discriminating against the unregistered just because some of them are cowardly trolls. That's just a wee bit hypocritical innit? Judging them before you know what they have to say?
Posted by kwodell on February 27, 2014 at 1:55 PM · Report this
26
It's easy for a privileged conservative douche like Andrew Sullivan who lives in a big gay enclave to lecture others about how they should just head on down to the pro-gay business down the street. But what if there is no other business down the street? Or what if every business in town decides they don't want to serve your kind? Demanding full civil equality does not make you intolerant. Was Rosa Parks being intolerant when she refused to sit at the back of the bus when many white Southerners thought they were following Christian doctrine by keeping the races separate?

And why stop at being "tolerant" of Christian businesses? Why should we be so "intolerant" of Christian beliefs as to demand gay marriage rights when we could just be respectful and tolerant by moving to a country like Canada or the Netherlands where gay marriage is already legal?
Posted by mshawn on February 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM · Report this
27
"They may"

May? The act of refusing service to a gay couple is by definition homophobic.
Posted by GermanSausage on February 27, 2014 at 2:10 PM · Report this
29
You know, there were PLENTY of perfectly good seats in the back of that bus. Rosa Parks didn't HAVE to stir up trouble. Similarly, there were plenty of lunch counters that WOULD serve black people - why not just go there instead of insisting on THAT particular one?

Martin Luther King would be so embarrassed to learn that his whole crusade could have been so painlessly avoided!
Posted by Pope Buck I on February 27, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
AFinch 30
Andrew is completely and entirely wrong. The destruction of institutionalized private discrimination depended entirely upon public accommodation laws, without which all manner of structural discrimination - particularly in a country which has 'privatized' the majority of our 'public' infrastructure - is far too easily implemented.

Sullivan imagines everyone lives where he does: in a place with a variety of public choices, but this over-extrapolation from personal experience leads to a glaring oversight. In lots of parts of the country it would be very easy to have no choices at all and while a cake is not a life or death matter, many things are.

If doing business with the general public - doing business which is inherently non-sectarian/religious in nature (eg, baking a cake) - is too burdensome to your personal sensibilities, then you are imposing the limit on yourself through your faith and you should seek work which does not conflict with that. If you are a pharmacist who doesn't like dispensing some drugs (eg, Plan B) then you should stop being a pharmacist.

The tortured logic of "conscientious objection" is really a back door for imposing your own values and limits on the rights and freedoms of others and exempting yourself from the rule of law.

Yes, gay people should be gracious in victory; yes, by all means, boycott the business which gives you the stink eye for being gay and let others know too, but that does not mean these laws shouldn't be on the books.
Posted by AFinch on February 27, 2014 at 2:21 PM · Report this
COMTE 31
@2:

Presumably, bigots in AZ, like LGBT's in all but a few select municipalities, are not a "protected class", so the short answer to your question is: yes, they can be terminated for being bigots, just as gays can be fired for being gay. The real determiner is whether they're being laid-off (without cause) or fired (for cause).

Most states operate under the provision of "employment at-will", which (with the notable exception of public employees in many states), stipulates that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason - or no reason - whatsoever. However, termination under these conditions is what is most commonly referred to as a "layoff", that is, the employee is not being terminated "for cause" as the result of some disciplinary action or contractual breach, in which case the employer is responsible for certain financial obligations to the employee (e.g. severance, unemployment benefits for which the employer has already been making contributions, etc., etc.).

Being "fired" implies "for cause", which, if upheld means the former employee does not qualify to receive any of the benefits of being laid-off through no fault of their own.
Posted by COMTE on February 27, 2014 at 2:22 PM · Report this
32
The advantage of living in very gay friendly urban/suburban Washington is that you can opt to not even consider doing business with someone unless you already know they are gay friendly or gay owned, so I don't really have to face this problem. I'm thankful for the people that don't have that luxury in Rural America who stand up for the right to not be discriminated against.
Posted by DJSauvage on February 27, 2014 at 2:27 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 33
@14 - Sure, it's possible a false report will go up, but a business owner should be allowed to refute claims of anti-gay discrimination. People who get in trouble for turning away gays tend to be pretty open about it.

I would suggest that for this registry, any business should be given the opportunity to publicly and officially clarify their policies, selecting from very clear, pre-written policy options ("We will gladly serve any customer, regardless of their sexual orientation." "We are not willing to serve gay customers." "We will not participate in same-sex weddings or similar ceremonies." "We allow our individual employees to follow their own conscience on these matters."). Any business should be happy to make their position known, whatever that position is.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on February 27, 2014 at 2:28 PM · Report this
Fnarf 34
I have a perfect solution: don't ever, ever eat cake.

Doesn't work for any of the other 1001 products and services that bigots provide, though.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on February 27, 2014 at 2:42 PM · Report this
Kevin_BGFH 35
Where I live in San Francisco, I have plenty of pro-gay florists, bakers, etc. who would be more than thrilled to have my business at the ridiculously over-inflated wedding industry prices. (I'd be tempted to tell them it was for a birthday or something so they'd charge less.)

But that's because I have the luxury of living in San Francisco. What if I lived in Fresno (where, more than 20 years ago, I was once chased by the KKK in sheets for attending a student LGBT conference)? But what if I lived in Alpine County (population 1,175), or Sierra County (population 3,240)? I'd have a lot fewer alternatives. And what if all of the florists and bakers were homophobic (these are pretty conservative areas of California). Sure, I could plan a destination wedding -- but I shouldn't HAVE to.
Posted by Kevin_BGFH http://biggayfrathouse.typepad.com/blog/ on February 27, 2014 at 2:43 PM · Report this
venomlash 36
@2: If an employee refused to provide service based solely on his own personal convictions, that's grounds for disciplinary action. Consider the example of a Jew working in a sandwich shop. Should he be allowed to refuse service to someone who ordered a BLT? I don't think a court would side with the employee here.
Posted by venomlash on February 27, 2014 at 2:50 PM · Report this
Andy Niable 37
@3 From such a sign, does that mean we are to assume that all Christians are homophobic and walk away from said door to said business?

Talk to the many allies of faith we had in the Referendum 71 fight, you might learn not all of them are unworthy of our in-kind support. (And I say this as a proud atheist with Christian, pro-LGBTQ friends).
Posted by Andy Niable on February 27, 2014 at 2:50 PM · Report this
SPG 38
The list of bigots is fine and all, but the real opportunity for positive change is to do the opposite. Create a window sticker that says something to the effect of "All customers are welcome here" that shows that the business isn't discriminatory. It doesn't have to be explicitly gay which might scare some businesses, but just a generic symbol that they don't discriminate. Make an effort to make it so common that the omission of the sticker on a business's door will give you the heebie-jeebies.
Posted by SPG on February 27, 2014 at 3:00 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 39
Gays in Arizona have no right to sue for discrimination. And Andrew Sullivan advises them not to sue for discrimination. Not because they have no legal basis, but because it would look bad.

Gays in Washington have a right to sue. And Dominic Holden suggests they feel free to exercise that right.

So. Sullivan, as usual, hasn't gotten any smarter than when he was calling everyone who said there were no WMDs in Iraq a traitor. And Dan Savage should remember not to listen to that guy.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on February 27, 2014 at 3:03 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 40
The public accommodation laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (in some areas) and race, color and national origin, but also disability and religion, and in some areas, age, family status, political belief, veteran status and use of a service animal. So this is nothing new for businesses. And for those like Andrew who say wait, well, February is coming to an end, and you should never let it go by without rereading the Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
If you don't have time for the whole thing, read this:
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
Posted by kk in seattle on February 27, 2014 at 3:03 PM · Report this
lolorhone 41
@40: Amen.
Posted by lolorhone on February 27, 2014 at 3:15 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 42
Sullivan is wrong, wrong, wrong on this issue.

What is the point of having non-discrimination laws if we don't enforce them? A homophobic bigot is freely entitled to their opinion. But if they want to open a business that serves the public, then they need to serve ALL of the public, not just the groups they like. If they don't, they should be sued (if they are in a city/county/state with civil rights protections for sexual orientation).

Sure, Sullivan, an influential white male living in a very gay-friendly city, could easily find another florist if he wanted. Not so in more conservative areas or less densely populated areas. Or poorer gays who don't have the luxury of going elsewhere. Or gays of color who sometimes face a double dose of discrimination. Or rural gays who don't have a large network of supportive friends. And so on. The anti-discrimination laws have a purpose, and a real effect on people's lives.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on February 27, 2014 at 3:27 PM · Report this
43
Society has rules for owning a business. If you follow those rules, society will help your business. Little things, like that sidewalk your customers use to enter your bakery. The roads they drive on to get to your neighborhood. Maybe your customers use public transit. If your business catches on fire, or someone robs you, the people that respond will be paid for by society too.

You can discriminate and hate as much as you want in your personal life, but I think it's a fair ask that if you want to profit off of the commons (aforementioned roads, police, water etc...damn right you alone didn't build that!) that you follow the rules. You can still call your customers epithets while you're serving them even! Might be a bad business strategy, but you could!
Posted by PurpleReign on February 27, 2014 at 3:28 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 44
Dan and Andrew, have either of you ever driven through Arizona?

You can drive for like 60 miles before passing one town that maybe has a gas station, and perhaps a cafe. A photographer might reside there, but it's doubtful. And then you have another 60 miles to the next town.

Using Grindr/Scruff/Growlr is hilarious because there will be a gay dude in 40 miles in some places.

Hypothesizing about weddings and stuff, you could be shut down for a 60 mile radius to find another, and they might discriminate too.

Imagine if a whole small town refuses to serve you because it's a strongly knit catholic town of maybe 500 that runs the local mill. SB 1062, and other bills of its ilk, codified into law an allowance for these places to run you out of town if they disagreed with your lifestyle.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on February 27, 2014 at 3:36 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 45
@42 Lets not forget that there is an inverse correlation between conservativism and density. Chances are, if you're living a rural life, you're more apt to find a religious core.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on February 27, 2014 at 3:41 PM · Report this
46
The bigots don't need to put signs in their windows, announcing their bigotry. If they practice this discrimination, it's going to get around that they're doing it, and sooner or later, they'll be out of business, because only the bigots are going to buy from them.

I agree with Andrew. Don't stoop to their level. You're better than that. Wiser than that. And you're going to win in the end.
Posted by sbirdy on February 27, 2014 at 3:48 PM · Report this
47
The bigots don't need to put signs in their windows, announcing their bigotry. If they practice this discrimination, it's going to get around that they're doing it, and sooner or later, they'll be out of business, because only the bigots are going to buy from them.

I agree with Andrew. Don't stoop to their level. You're better than that. Wiser than that. And you're going to win in the end.
Posted by sbirdy on February 27, 2014 at 3:52 PM · Report this
48
Sullivan's argument is that of the urbanite - the person who, if turned away by one business, can just go find another. That's just fine if you live somewhere there is choice, and if you have access to those choices, and if just not having whatever it is you are after is not a life and death matter.

Stops being fine pretty quickly when there are no choices. When the cost in time and money of getting to other choices is prohibitive. When it's something you really need, not just cake.

Going to another bakery in a big city filled with bakeries might seem like a reasonable approach. What are you gonna do when it's a question of getting another ambulance in a town with only one? Because believe me, if you let the bakeries get away with turning away your business, the ambulances and drug stores aren't far behind. Just ask women trying to get abortions in small towns in Republican states.
Posted by agony on February 27, 2014 at 4:08 PM · Report this
rob! 49
I read all the way down to @38 before finding what I would have typed myself (create a catchy campaign around an "All customers are welcome here" sticker).

Be dazzled again by MLK's words quoted @40, but boots-on-the-ground in this case means doing what SPG suggests.
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on February 27, 2014 at 4:14 PM · Report this
50
@30's suggestion that those who don't find themselves able, through reasons of conscience, to fulfill the basic requirements of that job should not do that job is the only reasonable one. And many people do just that - why not bakers and photographers?

I have a friend who is strongly opposed to abortion. When she was offered a promotion that would have had her, as a genetic counsellour, sometimes in the position of having to let people know that abortion was one of their options, she chose not to take the job. That's how a decent person lives her faith - by accepting that sometimes her choices will be reduced be cause of her faith. Not by reducing the choices of everyone else.
Posted by agony on February 27, 2014 at 4:45 PM · Report this
51
@40: I reread the letter before reading the portion you had quoted, and I had come to that exact paragraph as the heart of the matter here.

Thank you for the link, and the words.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on February 27, 2014 at 4:59 PM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 52
I don't want to eat cake made by someone who hates me.

For the same reason you should never abuse wait staff if you haven't gotten all your food yet. (And generally shouldn't abuse anyway.).
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on February 27, 2014 at 5:20 PM · Report this
53
Nah. If a person is allowed to discriminate against you then it gives other, like-minded individuals the license to do so. It's not a good reason to do so v.s. If you were a rude customer. African-Americans found that out the hard way and The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the end result.
Posted by gman5541 on February 27, 2014 at 5:28 PM · Report this
54
From what I've seen, the homophobic policies seem to be limited to a handful of business (although it's compounded by state legislatures which seem to want to feed this way of thinking). This seems to make sense -- most small businesses want more customers, not chase them away. This is different than the policies in Southern communities prior to the Civil Rights era, where racial policy of exclusion and segregation were deeply embedded in the way communities operated. It just seems wise not to go overboard in dealing with a small number of bad operators.
Posted by moom on February 27, 2014 at 5:33 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 55
Sullivan is always desperate to embrace his fellow conservative brethren at every moment possible. This advice isn't surprising at all.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 27, 2014 at 5:36 PM · Report this
56
@38-- yes, that is the positive way and it announces solidarity with the right side of history!
Posted by Beth on February 27, 2014 at 6:31 PM · Report this
57
Just another option - perhaps Arizona bakeries (and photographers, caterers, etc.) who support LGBT equality should have their own list, or perhaps there could be a sign they could put in their windows, webpage, and advertisements that says they welcome LGBT individuals? Maybe a small rainbow decal?

I often see the "Jesus fish" on advertisements for businesses that are proud of their Christianity, why can't pro-LGBT businesses have their own sign or decal that they can put on their advertisements?
Posted by SherBee on February 27, 2014 at 9:49 PM · Report this
58
I simply fail to see how anyone can be both gay and christian. It's like a Jew wanting to be a Nazi, or an African-American wanting to join the Klan... Each of those organizations are openly hostile to those peoples. It causes me to automatically discount anything they may say as coming from a clueless apologists (at best).
Posted by PdxPhoenix on February 27, 2014 at 9:55 PM · Report this
59
I simply fail to see how anyone can be both gay and christian. It's like a Jew wanting to be a Nazi, or an African-American wanting to join the Klan... Each of those organizations are openly hostile to those peoples. It causes me to automatically discount anything they may say as coming from a clueless apologists (at best).
In any case I think a registry of some sort for ... unenlightened ... businesses is a great idea, allows people a way to determine where they do or do not want to spend their money.
Posted by PdxPhoenix on February 27, 2014 at 9:58 PM · Report this
60
@45 'misanthrope'

You never replied when I proved your facts wrong in the other article.

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/archives…

Troll move to make an argument, get proven wrong, ask for citations then book when they are provided. Ill give you time to reconsider responding.
Posted by araucania on February 28, 2014 at 2:15 AM · Report this
sissoucat 61
Usual Sullivan. Priviledged and contemptuous of the underpriviledged : "Do not stir up trouble, siree ! Endure and shut your mouth ! Trouble is worse than injustice !".

Though I bet if anyone were to trample on him as if he were someone common, he would fight that both in court and on the nets, ASAP.

Homophobes have a right to be homophobes all right, but not to act on it while they're working. Just like I have a right to dislike Andrew Sullivan, but I wouldn't harass him nor refuse to provide service to him were I to meet him during job hours.
Posted by sissoucat on February 28, 2014 at 3:15 AM · Report this
62
when I read this post in Andrew's blog, I gave a big sigh. I know of his feelings about his beliefs, but I think that he is completely wrong here. If we let this door stay open, where will it end? We are giving Catholic hospitals waivers for providing legal drugs and medical procedures to their employees who may or may not be catholic, so does that mean that they can keep my husband out of my hospital room or refuse to let him direct my medical care? Where does this stop? This people don't understand anything except money. Proof is that it was the fear of economic loss that caused this change, not the simple understanding that it was the moral and, dare I say, Christian thing to do. When did americans become such assholes?
Posted by kevin11 on February 28, 2014 at 4:01 AM · Report this
MythicFox 63
Sullivan probably thinks it was 'bullying' and 'intolerant' for black people to sit at whites-only lunch counters and refuse to move to the back of the bus.
Posted by MythicFox on February 28, 2014 at 5:17 AM · Report this
64
The continuing fiction that Andrew Sullivan is an intellectual of serious ideas is a tragedy. This is a man who - let us not forget - raised the serious possibility of nuking Iraq shortly after 9/11 (October 1, 2001) and has never forthrightly apologized for advocating genocide. He also accused the left of being a potential fifth column.

He's intellectually shallow and a fool.
Posted by Ancient Sumerian on February 28, 2014 at 5:21 AM · Report this
65
So true, Dan. A few bigots would put up anti-gay signs, but most business people love $$$ and know that any public anti-gay associations would hurt them deeply.

I totally disagree with Andrew Sullivan's argument. If Black Americans waited for racists to change, they would still be at the back of the bus. There is nothing wrong with the government intervening and outlawing discrimination when it's obvious that bigots aren't going to give up their bigotry.
Posted by Patricia Kayden on February 28, 2014 at 5:21 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 66
@58: The answer is simple. Christianity isn't a monoculture. There are many "organizations" and many independents.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 28, 2014 at 7:02 AM · Report this
67
I love #38's idea of a sticker in the window stating "we serve everyone". I also love the idea of having a database of "we are unhappy to serve gays here" businesses. I'm straight and white, but I try very hard to find places to frequent that don't discriminate, either openly or tacitly. I'd love to know which businesses are discriminatory so I won't patronize them. (I'm looking at you Chick-Fil-A...)
Posted by jgcecil on February 28, 2014 at 7:05 AM · Report this
Mickymse 68
What many people seem to be missing here -- and Dom missed even as he wrote it in his article linked above -- is that the florist in Richland DOESN'T REFUSE TO DO BUSINESS WITH GAYS AND LESBIANS. Not only has (had?) she done business with other queer folks, but she'd done business with this particular gay couple before. She wants the right to opt out of wedding ceremonies. Why is that such a problem, even if you think she's wrong?

That's what Andrew is driving the argument towards. This isn't a debate about broad discrimination against whole classes of people. this is a difficult question of conscience about where the line lies between one person's beliefs dictating the actions of another.

I know that's hard to wrestle with, but that's called part of being in a truly inclusive society.
Posted by Mickymse on February 28, 2014 at 10:07 AM · Report this
69
Is anyone actually doing this right now? I didn't see anyone mentioning it skimming through the concepts. But I'm gay, I'm from Arizona, and I'm down.
Posted by The Eternal Noob on February 28, 2014 at 10:41 AM · Report this
Gus 71
Why not carve out a narrow exception from the public accommodation laws allowing private businesses to have and follow a stated policy of what religious ceremonies they will and will not participate in or assist? (And grant that weddings so commonly are religious ceremonies, that even a civil wedding would qualify)

Public servants should get no such exemption (so county clerks cannot refuse to issue licenses that are otherwise legal).

Give the bigots what they claim to want. Watch them squirm when it isn't what they really want (they really want blanket protection for their discrimination, and the anonymity to do it without offending the rest of their customers).

Posted by Gus on February 28, 2014 at 11:05 AM · Report this
72
One way the African American civil rights movement made social change was by forcing businesses to choose between their bigotry and their pocketbook. That's what the lunch counter sit-ins were about -- economic leverage. That's what the bus boycotts were about -- forcing people to choose between unfairness and making money. Ultimately, gay people's money is just as green as anyone else's.

Seems like if these bakers are think they're so good at keeping secrets from the public then they should be able to secretly bake cakes for gay weddings, too.

I'm just an unrepentant capitalist -- why would I refuse money from people who want to pay me and who will recommend me to their friends? If I had a chance to be "the baker all the gay weddings use," I'd jump on it. Cha-Ching!!
Posted by wellokaythen on February 28, 2014 at 12:34 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 73
@72: What absolute bullshit. Segregated restaurants and water fountains didn't go away because of the invisible hand.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 28, 2014 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Fortunate 74
@68 "is that the florist in Richland DOESN'T REFUSE TO DO BUSINESS WITH GAYS AND LESBIANS. Not only has (had?) she done business with other queer folks, but she'd done business with this particular gay couple before. She wants the right to opt out of wedding ceremonies. "

But she isn't opting out of wedding ceremonies. Just wedding ceremonies for gay people, so the determining factor is still that they are gay even if she is happy to take their money in other circumstances.
Posted by Fortunate on February 28, 2014 at 3:12 PM · Report this
75
I seem to recall there being some big boycott of a bigoted service that was really successful once... Might've been in Montgomery.
Posted by DRF on February 28, 2014 at 3:47 PM · Report this
76
As a straight person who has gay friends and a gay brother in law, I want that registry. Believe you me, I would want to know if some business is routinely refusing service to gay people and stop giving them my money PROMPTLY. I wouldn't care if it was the most amazing bed and breakfast, or if it was right next door or any of that. Not one more dollar of mine would support it. It would be tricky to set up, as I assume even gay people can be asshole customers some times, and businesses can just say 'we're booked,' or people can even just lie and say that it happened when they didn't (competitors?). But if there were some kind of checks and balances, like if there are three incidents where service was refused to a gay person/couple, or even say that on several occasions, we called x baker and said we wanted a cake for a gay wedding, and they said no. Then we had a friend call and say they were having a hetero marriage, and all the sudden they weren't booked. It could even be what those douches did to ACORN. In any case, I think there needs to be some way to be SURE that the business IS actually homophobic, and not say, shitty business people or having a bad day or is genuinely booked.

Sure, some might have that month or two of all the hatemongers eating there incessantly, or only staying there, but they'd eventually give up/forget/move on, and guess what? The rest of us would still know, and we still wouldn't eat/shop/stay there. I bet you after a few businesses started closing, FIRST they'd hit the Fox News victim cycle about "teh mean gays" but then you'd see VERY few businesses citing religious reasons for refusing service. In my opinion, that's as it should be. If you open a business, you're signing on to do a job. If you can't do that job because of your faith, you need to find a different line of work, not make the world conform to you.
More...
Posted by MinnySota on February 28, 2014 at 5:23 PM · Report this
77
This "tolerate intolerance or be intolerant" thing is a false dichotomy.

There are not, nor should there be, any laws that ban sincerely held religious beliefs. If you hold intolerant beliefs because of your religion, you should be free to do so.

HOWEVER

Your right to your intolerant beliefs ends where my right to equal accommodation under the law begins.

It really is that simple.

Believe whatever you want. And if it is an affront to your beliefs to treat all people equally, find a career in which that is not an issue. But beliefs do not and should not affords you the right to act against other people. That's where the line must be drawn in a society which values equal treatment under the law, as American society does and should.
Posted by MiscKitty on February 28, 2014 at 5:28 PM · Report this
79
@71--A key thing that separates a church from a bakery: a church is a private organization in the business of promoting certain beliefs and values, and limiting its membership to those who share those beliefs and values. A bakery does not have a membership: it is in the business of serving that portion of the public who wants to buy cake and who has cash or plastic in hand. In additioin, a bakery has no beliefs or values to share, beyond the belief that white sugar and white flour mixed in the right proportions can be delicious.

If a gay couple walks into a bakery and orders a cake, the baker may be personally offended because of the conflict with his religious beliefs, but it is not the duty of a baker to promote religious beliefs; it is the business of a baker to provide cake. Moreover, unless this baker first makes a point of interrogating all customers (Are you previously divorced? Have you been living in sin? Have you had sex outside of marriage? Have you had an abortion? Are you of my faith? Are you of any faith? Do you even believe in God?)and subsequently decides whether or not he can, in good conscience, provide them with a wedding cake, based upon the alingnment of their answers with his religious beliefs, the decision to deny a cake to a gay couple is not an exercise in religious freedom; it is an exercise in bigotry.

And--by the way--not all weddings are church weddings. Even when they are, the wedding reception (which is where the cake makes an appearance) is, more often than not, in a home, a restaurant, a hotel ballroom, or some other secular location.
Posted by Clayton on March 1, 2014 at 2:05 PM · Report this
Laurence Ballard 80
Judge Robert Spenser in his ruling against Denver-based Masterpiece CakeShop:

Finally, Respondents argue that if they are compelled to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, then a black baker could not refuse to make a cake bearing a white-supremacist message for a member of the Aryan Nation; and an Islamic baker could not refuse to make a cake denigrating the Koran for the Westboro Baptist Church. However, neither of these fanciful hypothetical situations proves Respondents’ point. In both cases, it is the explicit, unmistakable, offensive message that the bakers are asked to put on the cake that gives rise to the bakers’ free speech right to refuse. That, however, is not the case here, where Respondents refused to bake any cake for Complainants regardless of what was written on it or what it looked like. Respondents have no free speech right to refuse because they were only asked to bake a cake, not make a speech.


On the same issue, legal expert Ari Ezra Waldman wrote:

…the Catholic Church is different than a construction company: the former deals in piety and salvation; the latter deals in two-by-fours and split level condos. If religion is the product, then maybe the exemption could apply; where religious is irrelevant to the business, you can’t claim to be “religious” just because it suits you and your moral goals independent of your corporate persona.


To any but the spiritually disingenuous, adultery, divorce and divorced couples remain the major focus and threat to traditional marriages in the Christian Holy Text; always have. Not the dignity of the love between two same-sex adults wishing to enshrine this mutual commitment with the full recognition and rights therein afforded of the State.

These 'faith-compromised' capitalists would do well to remind themselves that their beloved Adam Smith's Invisible Hand didn't belong to god, but to the concept of self-regulation in marketplace. Stakeholder capitalism has more to do with the needs of the customer, not the faith-based needs of the merchant. Using Religious Freedom to justify non service--not in a church, or private residence, but in a commercial enterprise--reveals a bigot's heart wrapped in a Christian's hide.
More...
Posted by Laurence Ballard http://laurenceballard.com on March 1, 2014 at 4:22 PM · Report this
81
If bakers want to go into business and serve the public, then they need to serve ALL of the public.

If bakers only want to serve like-minded people, then they need to go into business through their churches.
Posted by treehugger on March 1, 2014 at 5:14 PM · Report this
82
Excellent piece Dan. In case you or someone else hasn't pointed it out however, at least three Arizona cities have anti-discrimination ordinances regarding sexual orientation. One of the arguments against the bill was how it would take away rights already granted in these municipalities. That qualification makes for complex explanation, but since you're boldly and brilliantly going into complexities few dare to enter, I'm sure you could find a way to give it the place it deserves instead of claiming it's not illegal to discriminate on sexual orientation in Arizona.
Posted by Jim Detwiler on March 1, 2014 at 5:17 PM · Report this
83
I gotta say there is absolutely no point to picking one strategy. Yes, sometimes you just let the bigot be a bigot and go on your way. In this day and age it's super easy to vent about it (and start creating that list!) on social media on your way out the door. And sometimes, for a reason that applies to you and yours alone, you decide enough is enough and take to the lawyers. But mounting a law suit sucks, and you have to really know that you are in it for the long term. That is one of the reasons why the people who file civil right suits are heroes - it is freacking hard, long, expensive work.

Yes, and, all of the above. It has to be and it has always had to be done every which way.
Posted by ScreenName on March 2, 2014 at 3:42 AM · Report this
84
Pies are so much intimate than cakes. Your life isn't going to slice itself into neat, fluffy, frosting covered cubes, Arizona. Why not cover delicious gooey filling in the realities of pastry instead?

Save the cakes for celebrations where you've run out of places for candles.

What were we talking about again?
Posted by six shooter on March 2, 2014 at 6:18 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 85
@83: Right, sometimes you "turn the other cheek" to a bigot, and other times it's important that someone not expect "the invisible hand of the Truly Free Market" to sort out human rights.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 2, 2014 at 8:32 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 86
What's important is to avoid the sanctimonious rants from conservatives (log cabin or not) like Sullivan.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 2, 2014 at 8:33 AM · Report this
87
83@ It should be noted that the Oregon couple did indeed move-on and ordered their cake elsewhere, had no plans to file suit and only mentioned their dissatisfaction on Facebook for those following their wedding plans. It was from that point the story then went viral and caused the state of Oregon to file suit despite the couple's disinterest in doing so themselves. It was pressure from second parties that finally caused them to change their mind and file a companion suit - and rightfully since it served a greater good in my opinion. Point being this kind of discrimination likely occurs much more often than we know to those who choose the personal practicality of just moving-on so they don't have to suffer the burden of being heroes.
Posted by Jim Detwiler on March 2, 2014 at 8:56 AM · Report this
88
I want the sign to say, "Christian business owner: As such, we will not provide services for same-sex wedding venues." and I want them to display the rainbow flag with one of those black circles with a diagonal-slash through it. If you want to discriminate against gay customers, own it. Otherwise, keep your bigotry (and your CHOSEN religious beliefs) to yourself.
Posted by David in Houston on March 3, 2014 at 8:12 AM · Report this
89
Andrew Sullivan needs to live in a small MS or AL town for a couple years. The bigger cities have progressed enough that he won't be as miserable as he deserves to be for suggesting that it's simple to just pick another business establishment.
Posted by BobSF_94117 on March 3, 2014 at 8:49 AM · Report this
90
@68: She is free to opt out of wedding cakes, just as she is free to opt out of the bakery business entirely. She is not free to opt out for gay customers but not straight customers. And this is not a "difficult question of conscience", because no one is forcing her to get gay-married and there is flat-out no legitimate argument against legalization of gay marriage. If you want to live in a pluralistic culture, you have to accept that not everyone shares your private beliefs. Would it be okay for her to refuse Jewish or Muslim or Hindu weddings?

I often wonder why someone hasn't started a First Church of Jesus Christ Homosexual, which ONLY performs gay weddings, and then use the freedom of religion argument to force a federal recognition of gay rights.

And Sullivan, like Bill Kristol and Jim Cramer, is someone who has been wrong So Many Times - why does anyone pay attention to them any more?
Posted by Chase on March 3, 2014 at 10:21 AM · Report this
91
I wish there were more tolerant gays like Andrew. The world needs more like that.
Posted by BullshitElliminator on March 14, 2014 at 3:04 PM · Report this
92
#90, Chase, if you have to wonder, then actually reading the answer in the Bible would allow you to wonder no longer. Christianity is not your enemy. And the reason that kind of church doesn't exist is because for one, that's retarded, and two, the Bible clearly opposes homosexuality.
Posted by BullshitElliminator on March 14, 2014 at 3:15 PM · Report this

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