First, the facts as reported in the media:
Headline: Christian bakery under investigation [by the state of Oregon] after owners refused to sell wedding cake to lesbian couple
Christian bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
The owners say serving same-sex couple Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer would violate their religious beliefs.
Authorities are investigating whether the bakery discriminated against the women.
Owners Aaron and Melissa Klein have received death threats and hate mail since the incident occurred in January. (Source: Daily Mail online, 8/14/13)
Do the bakery owners have a moral and legal right (by the standards of a free society) to turn down any customers they wish, for any reason?
Absolutely. I don’t care if the state of Oregon has regulations or laws to the contrary. Those laws and regulations, if they exist, are violations of individual rights.
The very principle upholding the individual rights of the lesbian couple to marry, or form any personal association they wish, is the same principle which upholds the right of the bakery to turn them down as customers.
It’s called private property. It’s also called freedom of association. The lesbian couple counts on the principles of private property and association to protect them from Nazi-like persecution by the government. Does this give them the right to utilize the government to turn around and do the same to others?
‘It’s discrimination,’ opponents of the Christian bakery proclaim. So? Discriminate is what human beings do, to cope and survive. Discrimination, cognitively speaking, refers to distinguishing among perceptual concretes to form conceptual conclusions. These conclusions are subject to truth or falsehood and, in cases such as lesbian or gay relationships, sometimes subject to hot debate. But legally and politically, this is no concern of the government.
The concern of a government, in a free and just society, is to uphold the principle of individual rights, including private property. A just government in Oregon, or anywhere, will uphold the right of the lesbian couple to hold any wedding they wish, with any cake they choose to make or find someone willing to make for them. I am certain they can find many bakers eager to take on the task.
The two individuals in this lesbian relationship are not the property of the government. They are their own sovereign selves, which gives them the moral, and therefore political, right to do with their bodies and lives what they see fit.
The married heterosexual couple who owns the Christian bakery are, likewise, the property of their own sovereign selves. They are free to form whatever conclusions they wish about lesbian relationships, or any other kind of social or personal arrangement. They are morally entitled to act (or not act) on their convictions, no more or less so than the two women in the personal relationship seeking to hold a wedding celebration.
Yes, I recognize that the argument I’m advancing here applies to any other person or group of persons subject to discrimination, due to race, gender, religious affiliation or whatever else. And yes, I recognize that legally, in the United States for half a century now, the laws have presumed precisely the opposite.
But error is error, regardless of what the trends have or have not been. Errors have a way of catching up with us. And the form this takes is the ludicrous travesty embodied by two people screaming they have a moral and political right to a baker.
In order to protect what they see as a ‘right’ to a wedding cake, the lesbian couple—and all who support them legally—necessarily undermine the very principles of private property and individual rights which they desperately need to survive. Is it worth it? You will not get an answer, because whenever such questions are posed to proponents of anti-discrimination laws, the response is evasive hostility. Unfortunately, evasiveness and hostility will never solve problems, neither personal nor legal ones.
Speaking personally, I have no use for irrational prejudice. I doubt I’d ever want anything to do with the couple who finds it necessary to turn away business based on such a silly and unfounded, irrational principle. But their right to do so is not even a matter of question, in my mind.
Individual rights, private property and freedom of association trump the alleged ‘right’ to a wedding cake. It’s time to grow up, America.
Be sure to “friend” Dr. Hurd on Facebook. Search under “Michael Hurd” (Rehoboth Beach DE). Get up-to-the-minute postings, recommended articles and links, and engage in back-and-forth discussion with Dr. Hurd on topics of interest.