The new cost of doing business: Toeing the line on politically correct beliefs

Photo illustration by Jim Vallee/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON (RNS) — Small businesses — those with fewer than 50 workers — already pay, on average, more than $11,000 per employee per year because of federal regulations. Now, city officials in East Lansing, Mich., are adding a new burden: Anyone wishing to do business in their town must toe the (city) line on politically correct beliefs. 

Specifically, they’ve made compliance with their views on gay marriage a new “cost of doing business.” 

City officials saw a Facebook exchange in which Steve Tennes said that his family couldn’t host same-sex weddings on their farm, Country Mill, because such ceremonies are inconsistent with their deeply held beliefs about marriage. The officials promptly banned Country Mill from the city’s farmers market, where Tennes had been selling his fresh produce since 2010. 

RELATED: Catholic farmer ousted from Michigan market over same-sex marriage views

Steve and his wife, Bridget, have never discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. They have sold their produce to — and hired — people who identify as LGBT. They didn’t treat anyone differently because of their sexual orientation, but they believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and don’t want to violate their consciences.

Nor should they have to. When the Supreme Court redefined marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the traditional view of marriage was based on “decent and honorable premises.” He added that no one should be disparaged for holding those beliefs. But, the city of East Lansing has done exactly that, misusing Obergefell to justify punishment of the Tennes family for their beliefs.

The Supreme Court’s decision was about the obligations of state governments. It didn’t give governments carte blanche to force farmers, bakers, florists and photographers to host or celebrate same-sex weddings.

What we see in East Lansing is an overly aggressive local government targeting a small business because of a difference of opinion. The clear evidence of this is the lack of a complaint from any customer alleging any actual harm by Country Mill, because there was none.

Which is why the Tennes family is going to court this week over its lawsuit against East Lansing.

Steve and Bridget both served in the U.S. military. When they left to start running a farm, they never expected that the government they served would punish them for their religious beliefs.

By all accounts, Country Mill had been a model vendor at the East Lansing market, graciously serving all customers. But when officials saw the Facebook post, they discouraged Country Mill from coming to the market, hinting there might be protests.

Steve and Bridget weren’t deterred, so the city then drafted a policy to exclude Country Mill from the market. The policy treats sexual orientation as a protected class, something federal civil rights law does not do.

The policy also applies not just to what happens at the farmers market, but to how business owners operate anywhere in the state. East Lansing is overreaching beyond its own jurisdiction — violating Michigan’s “Home Rule City Act” to punish Country Mill, which is 22 miles outside of East Lansing.

The new cost of doing business is high. “It’s a major financial burden to be shut out and excluded from the farmers market,” Steve Tennes says.

Kate Anderson, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom who represents the family, said the city’s message is clear: “We can hurt your livelihood if you don’t ascribe to a belief that we agree with.”

East Lansing city officials never enforced their policy against any other vendor. The city’s use of the market as a weapon to force the Tennes family to disavow their beliefs violates their freedom of religion and expression.

When governments use economic weapons to silence individuals for their beliefs, all Americans should pay attention. If a government can punish one family-owned business for their beliefs, what power restrains it from punishing other businesses for other beliefs? If a government can ban a farm from selling at one market, what’s to stop it from banning other businesses from selling in other marketplaces?

East Lansing suggests it may allow Country Mill to return if the Tennes family denies their beliefs and conforms to the city’s ideas of marriage. But Steve and Bridget aren’t backing down.

And they shouldn’t have to choose between their faith and their livelihood. East Lansing’s policy violates the freedom of Americans to run their businesses according to their consciences.

No American should be coerced by their local, state or federal government into abandoning their religious or moral beliefs. Violation of individual conscience should never be the price of doing business.

(Emilie Kao is director of the Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society. Laura Cermak is a member of the foundation’s Young Leaders Program.)

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Emilie Kao

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  • Apart from the point the author is trying to make, I call shenanigans on this article. Firstly the so called $11,000 cost for small businesses is ONLY related to manufacturers. This does not include all small businesses. Secondly, the study cited here is devoid of definition of not only what each category comprises, but neglects to site exactly the regulations that it claims is doing damage to businesses.

    Unnecessary regulations is one thing, but deregulation is dangerous in the same categories it claims in their study. I will also point out that any savings from repealing some or all regulations would have limited impact in job creation and/or wage increases and more benefit to either the owners and/or stock holders.

    The subject of this article is worth exploring, but the supporting evidence is misleading, evasive, and lacks real information.

  • Not discriminating against gays and same-sex marriage is NOT political correctness – it’s plain old human decency, something the Bible has issues with.

  • This is nothing new. Deeply held religious beliefs that blacks are an inferior race and should not be served has stopped business since the 1960’s. Deeply held religious beliefs that Jews are a threat to our “salvation” and hence can be excluded from business has stopped businesses since the 1940’s. And so on. “Deeply held religious beliefs” is not mean that one’s bigotry isn’t bigotry.

  • If regulations which prevent one from discriminating are somehow harming one’s business, it says nothing good about the business.

    What the authors miss in their zeal to portray malicious bigots as victims here is that permitting discrimination in of itself causes harm to the market. It forces consumers to navigate through the various personal prejudices of one business owner to another in a burdensome fashion.

    “Separate but equal” was a terrible political model and turns out was a terrible business model as well. No need to bring it back into the modern era.

    Lets also get something out of the way here, marriage equality is the law of the land. If one cannot accept that, it is their problem and something which they should deal with in a mature manner. It is not something which ever has to be passed along to consumers.

    “Emilie Kao is director of the Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society”

    Figures. You have the association with people with no regards for civil liberties and seek special privileges for conservative Christians.

  • Please be aware that this is not an article, it is an opinion piece from a far right-wing organization partially funded by extremely conservative members of the folks who bring you the current Sec of Education and Amway Corp.

    What they authors don’t mention is that many states and municipalities are in the business of licensing businesses to practice/sell merchandise & services. Although at the federal level, LGBTQ folks have not been declared a protected class, the US Supreme Court has treated them as such in a few of it’s pro-LGBTQ decisions. And many states and cities do consider them protected classes in the way they operate and create & administer laws. Fortunately or unfortunately, in the coming USSC schedule, the justices are taking on a case similar to the core issues in this case in this opinion piece. Do folks have a right to discriminate against LGBTQ folks in the practice/operation of their business based on their personal religious beliefs? I don’t believe that they do. The folks in the town mentioned in the opinion piece also doesn’t believe that they do.

  • Good to finally see an RNS article that actually supports constitutional religious freedoms.
    A most refreshing change of pace.

  • Religious freedom is not absolute. The Rastafarians cannot use marijuana in states where it’s not legal. Mormons cannot practice polygamy. Only some Native Americans can use peyote legally – other similar religions cannot. If the courts rule that not providing certain services to LGBT folks is discrimination then that negates your right to practice that component of your faith. Your rights cannot infringe on the rights of others. So very simple to grasp.

  • Thus we see the ridiculousness of the corporate media even RNS bending over backwards to accommodate the far right.

  • What some people call political correctness, other people call the court of public opinion,

    What some people call political correctness, other people call obeying non-discimination laws.

    These so called authors– well, they wrote something, so technically they are– want to claim that illegal discrimination is bring politically correct. Nonsense. I’m wondering why they aren’t defending all of the other kinds of illegal discrimination, but only anti gay discrimination. They must call it a matter of conscience, rather than what it is.

  • In other words, RNS is supposed to be presenting only one side of this story — the gay activist side. It upsets you that RNS may occasionally offer the OTHER side of the story.

    Well-informed media consumers pose a threat to the gay-marriage movement, no?

  • Since you are demanding “No discriminating against gays” in the name of “human decency”, you will be happy to know that the RNS article directly says,
    “They have sold their produce to — and hired — people who identify as LGBT. They didn’t treat anyone differently because of their sexual orientation.”

    So there you go. There’s the human decency you requested, right upfront.

    But you’re not really into that, are you? You’re openly hoping that the courts will REPEAL the constitutional religious freedom of Christians to refuse to participate in events (such as gay weddings & receptions) that are clearly & diametrically opposed to the Christian faith.

    In other words, you’ve signed up for the PC-Police. And those guys AIN’T decent.

  • The issue in contention has to do with facilitation and services of same-sex weddings. Since same-sex marriages are legal I consider those refusals discrimination. However, it’s up to the courts to decide that issue. Calling it political correctness deflects from the human decency issue it really is.

  • The farm advertised their marriage venue at the market. The Market would be equally correct to exclude a company a that refused to rent their venue to “darkies.”

    Do Christians not understand that everyone else can see the hypocrisy and hate that underlie these decisions? “Christian” venues, bakers, etc do not question clients about sex before marriage. They don’t question clients about divorce, gluttony, drug addiction or deceptive business practices. They host Muslim weddings without “approving” of Islam. They host vegan weddings without becoming vegans.

    These christians find the need to buck up their self esteem by having someone to hate. This is about superiority and hate. Everybody else seems to manage to serve customers without taking ownership of stranger’s sex lives.

  • I also do not expect reputable news sources to present “the other side of the argument” for segregated schools or refusing to serve blacks.

  • I guess I look at other areas where businesses are perfectly able to discriminate: senior housing, couples only resorts, ethnic businesses who only put there name out in non-English characters, and wonder what the essential difference is? They are upfront about whose custom they want.

    I say make these business put it everywhere they advertise their business. If you’re a wedding chapel, florist, bakery, you have to put a “rainbow with a line through it” or something that shows you do not provide that service.

    And of course, those that want everyone’s custom can market the opposite.

  • It doesn’t negate the right to practice that component of his faith, because it is not a component of his faith. There is NO “Thou shalt not baketh a cake for the people that thou despiseth” component of Christianity, except in their minds. They are not”participating” in a Holy marriage ceremony, because they don’t consider it a valid or a holy marriage. They are baking a cake, not getting gay married themselves. Their blessing, approval and participation isn’t being sought, nor is it required.

    It is discrimination on the basis of religious belief, and it is illegal at nearly every level of government,

  • The interesting part of the case is something no one’s talking about: the city refusing a permit because of what the applicant is (legally) doing in a different jurisdiction with a business unrelated to the one he wants a permit for. I don’t know of any past on-point precedent, so I’m curious to see the arguments on both sides.

    On the other point, if someone runs a wedding business and the law prohibits sexual orientation discrimination, I’d say he either has to do same-sex weddings or not do any. I do feel uncomfortable calling it an issue of “human decency”. If someone’s faith opposes gay marriage I can understand not wanting to facilitate them, and I don’t think it’s bigotry (speaking extra-legally)

  • I can see the divorce example (since you can interpret the Bible as forbidding divorce and remarriage except under certain circumstances–of course, the complication is that you’d have to question the couple about whether those circumstances exist…), but your other ones puzzle me. Why would “gluttony” be a barrier to marriage?

  • I agree with you about the baker (although I’d support him if the couple asked for him to write something or put images on the cake that directly expressed a message he opposed), but baking a generic wedding cake that is taken out of the store is a bit different from actually being involved in the facilitation of the marriage (that said, if the law requires the business to host same-sex weddings on the same basis as opposite-sex ones–which it doesn’t where the farmer runs that business–he should have to do so or shut down if his conscience won’t permit him to)

  • Exactly! Pardon me if I look for collaboration before I trust the word of the Heritage Foundation. These people make a career out of ginning up “persecution” of Christians. If someone can post collaboration — a local news story, a national news story (not from Breitbart, Fox) I’m all ears.

  • Let’s wait for collaboration before we trust the word of the Heritage Foundation that this is even true.
    And while I definitely support gay marriage, not everything –most especially a person’s beliefs — can be legislated. I’d expect even the ACLU to stand up for this couple IF THE STORY IS IN FACT TRUE. Big if.

  • I think you missed the most important question to raise. Is the story even true? Let’s not jump to defend something we don’t even have to. Seems to me even the aclu would have a problem with this story. My gut tells me this isn’t an accurate portrayal. Is RNS going to reprint the Heritage Foundation’s propaganda pieces as if they are accurate reports? I’d like to see a link to this story elsewhere.

  • Gah. Please don’t accept the word of the Heritage Foundation that this is exactly what happened. And please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. No, the government doesn’t have a right to regulate our beliefs. I say that as a person who definitely supports gay marriage.

  • I don’t know why we accept the reportage of the Heritage Foundation at face value, with no links to any actual news story. They are a heavily funded think tank with a political agenda — I’m very, very skeptical that the reportage is accurate. I think even the ACLU would agree with you that we can’t legislate people’s beliefs, we only have to concern ourselves with whether they trample the rights of others. But ginning up outrage against the persecution of Christians — is the calling card of the Heritage folks.

  • I doubt any of its true.I never expect an honest portrayal of events from people trying to pretend Conservative Christians are a victimized group.

    Generally the stories of being “discriminated for being Christian” end up with a reality of someone acting obnoxiously and getting punished rot it or someone expecting special privilege for being a member of the faith.

    My objection is the reasoning being employed in the argument. That discrimination is OK and bigotry is acceptable if one claims religious inspiration.

  • “If someone’s faith opposes gay marriage I can understand not wanting to facilitate them”

    If one is in open commerce dealing with such events then their “wants” aren’t really worth a damn. They have a duty to serve all reasonable paying customers.

    Frankly the story smacks of exaggeration, conflation and fictions for effect. Conservative Christian advocacy groups are not known for their integrity or veracity.

  • My point is that we can’t let down our guard. Pretty soon you’re defending something which is indefensible. We don’t need a government which legislates people’s beliefs, we need a government which protects us from discrimination. And that is not a factor in their vegetable sales. See how this works? They get you defending the indefensible, based on a false story, and then they yell “gotcha!”

    The fact is “bigotry” is acceptable — if what you mean is are you allowed to hold bad ideas in your head that don’t affect anyone. We don’t, and we shouldn’t legislate against that. But it is another matter if you trample other people’s rights. Don’t get sucked into an argument for things that really aren’t defensible. Or you really will be guilty of discriminating against people for their beliefs.

  • The issue in this particular case is not directly related to facilitating or serving same-sex weddings. There is no evidence that the couple failed to serve anyone in East Lansing. If a same-sex couple came to their farmers market stand and asked for 100 pounds of rhubarb to make pies for their wedding, and they refused to sell it to them, then this would be what is fast becoming a garden-variety discrimination case.

  • Let’s be perfectly clear. A wedding venue business doesn’t “host” a wedding. The business rents out space to couples. Unless the venue is not charging the couple, it is not a “host”.

    A baker does not “celebrate” a wedding. A baker sells cakes to couples. Same with florists, and caterers, and dressmakers. The checkout guy at the party store where you buy your decorations isn’t celebrating with you either.

    All of these people are vendors. They have businesses open to the public, which means they are not allowed to discriminate against certain customers.

  • Actions are not beliefs.

    Actions are subject to legal constraints. If you operate a business, you must serve people of all races. You are free to believe whatever you want about other races, but your actions as a business owner must comply with the law.

    I might believe that Christians are universally hopelessly ignorant and a scourge on society (I don’t), but if I owned a store I could not refuse to make a cake celebrating a batism or refuse to sell a dress for a first communion.

    “We don’t serve your kind” is against the law when it comes to classes specified by law. “We don’t serve your kind” is also pathetic and hateful.

    Actions are not beliefs.

  • They have a public business allowing couples to rent their space. They refuse to do business with gay couples who wish to do so. That’s textbook discrimination.

  • For myself, I see no difference between the vendors hosting a wedding where the couple are the same sex, but invoking the Christian god, and where the couple is opposite sex, but ignoring the Christian god in favor of the false gods of Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism, or wth no god at all.

  • Exactly, which is why this article doesn’t pass the smell test. Throw farmers out of a market for their beliefs? That wouldn’t be right. And I’m skeptical that it is true. And again, I support gay marriage. I also support the Constitution — these people have a right to their beliefs. It is only problematic when they act in a way that limits other people’s rights — but you don’t punish them by denying their kid a public school education or denying them a place to sell their stuff. The ACLU would be the first to agree. The article says they serve people, hire people who are gay. So that’s not what we’re talking about here.The Heritage people would love to see us mixed up about all this and defending things that aren’t defensible.

  • The federal Fair Housing Act specifically exempts senior housing, and all the couples-only resorts I’ve heard of are outside US jurisdiction. An ethnic business with a non-English sign would still be required to serve all customers. In fact most want to. Walk through NYC’s Chinatown and you’ll probably see as many tourists as residents.

  • God hates gluttons. The bible has far more to say on gluttony tham it does about gays. Serving gluttons promotes gluttony. Failing to treat gluttons as sinners unworthy of common decency angers the deity and will place your soul in mortal peril.

    2000 years of christian history consists of declaring one sin (that other people do) to be the horrendously bad sin that justifies prejudice, discrimination and persecution. The sin chosen for vilification varies from generation to generation. The hate, hypocrisy and self righteousness are eternal.

  • The farmers were using their stall at the Farmer’s Market to advertise and promote their wedding venue – even though gays fell under the “we don’t serve your kind” clause for that venue. The actions of the farners to refuse to serve gays is the problem.

  • Do you have a link to an actual news report? I want to see actual reportage about what the city did and what it offered as its justification. I am not going to try to guess between the lines of a story from the Heritage Foundation what happened. I think I’m right to be highly skeptical about all of this.

  • So if the feds say it’s OK, it’s OK? Rich old people get nice developments while families struggle? How many English only people are going to walk into an office labeled only in Chinese kanji Hebrew or Arabic script and ask what they do there? Not many, because it’s clear they are interested in serving a certain clientele, and frankly it’s much easier to take your custom somewhere easier to identify. (I’ll ignore the subtext that you think foreign-script businesses are only there to entertain the tourists. )

    The point is, that there are already lots of ways that businesses make it clear what type of customer they would like or what kind of services they provide. I only think it’s fair if we expect “them” to take gay people at their word that they’re really, really gay and not just being contrary that we take them at their word when they say it really compromises their religious beliefs to be forced to participate in a ceremony that violates those beliefs.

    Just say up front. I’ll take my custom elsewhere.

  • Same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. It is not religious marriage but civil marriage. Does this couple rent their property out to people who are on their second marriage? People who use birth control? People who have had abortions? Atheists? Muslims? Jews? People in mixed-religion marriages? Do they rent to anyone whose lifestyle they religiously do not believe in? If so, then East Lansing needs to allow them to participate in the farmers market because they are, indeed, exercising their religious beliefs. However, if they *only* refuse same-sex couples but will rent to everyone else, regardless of religious considerations, then they are discriminating against same-sex couples, pure and simple.

  • As a non-churchgoer I’ll accept your contention that gluttony is a ‘sin’; I just meant that I don’t see the connection to refusing a marriage-related service (I do see it in the divorce example, as I said)

  • I guess it’d depend on the vendor’s specific beliefs. I don’t know the current doctrine, but I know Catholics have traditionally said a marriage is valid only if solemnized by their church, so I wouldn’t think a Catholic business owner would facilitate a Hindu ceremony. But some Protestants I know consider a marriage is okay as long as it’s legal (except same-sex ones, of course…..)

  • But you’ve got a specific case in which gay customers are not only served on an equal basis, but even hired on an equal basis, by the people involved.

    So any attempt to invoke “blacks” or “segregation” in this particular case, automatically FAILS.

  • Note, that story is from MAY. And it fills in some detail missing in the story from above. The family was not being punished for its beliefs. It was not being allowed to promote its farm (of which it said hosting weddings were an integral part) at the Farmers’ Market. Because a business which discriminates is not in keeping with city ordinances. Interestingly, the farm dropped its wedding business just last week. http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/local/2016/08/30/local-orchard-changes-wedding-policy/89531262/ which this article doesn’t mention. It also doesn’t seem to find a contradiction between “our business has always been open to people of all beliefs” (a quote from the more recent article) and the point that in fact, their farm (which was in fact a wedding venue) was not open to same sex couples — in other words, it was discriminating, based on other people’s beliefs. Until it dropped out of the business all together.
    So I maintain the Heritage people have carefully spun this story for their own purposes.

  • I find your wording a bit garbled, but yes. A more recent local news report link below.. They say they “welcome everyone regardless of their beliefs” to their farm. Which may be true, but their wedding business was not in fact open to everyone. Big difference. If you are running a business as a wedding venue, you cannot discriminate. Period.
    And it is that business practice (and the advertising of it at the Farmers’ Market) which caused the city to deny them the right to participate. Incidently, just last week they dropped their wedding business.
    It would have been just as problematic if they forbade Mormons from marrying there, or atheists, or blacks. You can’t operate a business that discriminates. You can’t tell evangelical Christians they can’t be married at your inn because you don’t agree with them either. A fact which seems lost on the Heritage Foundation.

  • Yes. I particularly like in the Heritage article the phrase “The policy also applies not just to what happens at the farmers market, but to how business owners operate anywhere in the state. East Lansing is overreaching beyond its own jurisdiction — violating Michigan’s “Home Rule City Act” to punish Country Mill, which is 22 miles outside of East Lansing.”

    In other words it is distorting the fact that the city is enforcing its own rules within its jurisdiction, not preventing the business from conducting its business outside the city, as the article suggests. I would assume that the city would be able to set whatever legal standards it desires in permitting businesses to participate within its own jurisdiction.

  • “So any attempt to invoke “blacks” or “segregation” in this particular case, automatically FAILS.”

    Except when the subject is legalized discrimination. Then it provides the guidelines as to how these things play out.

    Such as a guideline for how people in a minority group have to navigate the prejudices of various vendors and legalized discrimination

  • “Rich old people get nice developments while families struggle?”

    They have a stronger lobby than you. 🙂

    “How many English only people are going to walk into an office labeled
    only in Chinese kanji Hebrew or Arabic script and ask what they do

    Depends on what is in the window. Arbustin points to the perfect practical examples of what happens in such settings.

    “The point is, that there are already lots of ways that businesses make
    it clear what type of customer they would like”

    But they cannot turn people away who do not meet that “type”.

    “or what kind of services
    they provide.””

    Which is never the issue. The services are the same for all of the customers in these stories. Its the class of people the customers are which is usually the difference.

  • It should never depend on a vendor’s specific beliefs. The point is all reasonable customers need to be treated reasonably regardless of how the business owner personally feels about such classes of people.

    We already had a real world example of how horrific it is for people to have to navigate the sea of personal bigotries with legal permission. It was called Jim Crow.

  • And that is why I find it hard that they cannot extend that good-will line as to the renting their wedding facility. They are neither solemnizing nor celebrating any of the marriages – gay or otherwise – held at the venue they rented. I have never attended a wedding at a rented facility where the venue operators were considered part of the wedding.

  • I do not think those who are bigoted against LGBTQs are well-informed at all because their position is not informed by facts. What you propose is equivalent to saying the Ku Klux Klan’s viewpoint is legitimate.

  • Not at all. They specifically excluded a particular class of consumers and therefore revealed themselves as unworthy of any sympathy.

  • If a business wants to discriminate against gay people or any other group of Americans it should be required to prominently post a sign on the doors of their business saying “This business discriminates against gay people, and does not service or sell to them”. It should also be required on the front page of any website they have.

    Evangelical business owners should be proud of their anti-gay discrimination, not hide it. And the general public should know about it so they can make a decision about whether they want to give their hard-earned money to a business that discriminates against certain classes of human beings.

  • Legally speaking, as I said a business should not be able to refuse to sell to someone in a protected class a product he’d sell to anyone else–and that includes a wedding cake. Where I’d support the owner is if he runs a business that makes custom products that use words and images that can express a definite “message”, and he refuses to express a message he objects to, whether his objections are religious or secular.

    But to extent that there exist religious exemptions and accommodations, of course it depends on the person’s “specific beliefs”–there’s nothing else at issue. If a doctor refuses to perform abortions, it’s his “specific beliefs” (that others of his religion may not share) that are the cause of his objection. Arguing about whether he’s a “good Christian” for objecting to This but not to That seems pointless to me. Obviously you can find two Christians (or two Hindus or Muslims or two Jews) who interpret their shared faith in very different ways.

  • Except they aren’t served on an equal basis when it comes to renting their space as a wedding venue. In that part of their business, same-sex couples are *clearly* being denied service. That’s discrimination. The fact that they don’t discriminate in *other* parts of their business dealings does nothing to change that fact.

  • You are weasel wording and equivocating here. A vendor has no legitimate right to turn down any reasonable customer making a reasonable request for goods and services normally provided. Just because an item is custom made, doesn’t mean the class of people of customer has any bearing as to how or why one transacts to do business.

    If they advertise to the general public they must serve the general public.

    If that is too burdensome due to personal bigotries then it is best one avoid open commerce and deal only by word of mouth, select exclusive venues or a membership club type setting.

  • Please specify how exactly “they proved” they were bigots.

    It”s your accusation, not mine. Please rationally support your accusation. With specifics.

  • I dunno, maybe you’re ‘weasel reading’; I’m being really explicit. I said a business has to sell to “any reasonable customer making a reasonable request for goods and services normally provided”–including a wedding cake or anything else. The product doesn’t “change” depending on who’s purchasing it.

    But if he runs a business (and it’s a sort of narrow category) that makes custom products that SAY something (in words and/or pictures), he can choose to say or not say anything he pleases, under the First Amendment. That’s a completely different situation.

  • “But if he runs a business (and it’s a sort of narrow category) that
    makes custom products that SAY something (in words and/or pictures), he
    can choose to say or not say anything he pleases, under the First

    Actually it depends on how they conduct business. Whether its in the open or restricted. Being custom made or performed is not enough here.

    If said custom item is advertised as being available to anyone just based on price then they can’t be so restrictive. That is open commerce by its nature. One seeks the advantages of public awareness of the business in exchange for the obligation to serve the entire public.

    If one deliberately limits their awareness of the business through selective advertising, word of mouth only, or restrictive membership organizations, they have no obligation to serve the public. They risk limiting their business in exchange for the freedom to choose who to transact with.

  • I don’t think you’re able to rationally respond on this one. I consider your claim falsified if this is all you’ve got.

  • There is no USSC court decision — not even Obergefell — that forces all vendors across America, to participate in gay-wedding or gay-reception events.

    In my state — and some others too — Steve and Bridget Tennes would not have been subjected to all this PC-Police bullying.

  • If you provide goods and/or services that assist other folks in solemnizing or the celebrating or just plain affirming of a wedding or its reception, then honestly?

    You’re a participant. Directly or indirectly, openly or tacitly, you’re still a participant.

    Now if you are volunteering for the job, then okay that’s your call. But if the government is trying to FORCE you into the job, force you to self-repeal your own constitutional religious freedom via economic revenge or court reprisals or both, then that’s no good.

  • I don’t say the right is unlimited just because it involves words. If he refuses to write “Happy Birthday” on a cake and it can be proven that hostility against a protected class is the reason, it’d be discrimination, in my opinion, because he’d write that for anyone else. I was talking more about the expression of (to him) an objectionable viewpoint requested to be put on the cake (or t-shirt, or sign, or whatever) that he’d refuse anyone.

  • It’s never an issue of unreasonable requests by a customer. There are ways to handle that situation that the laws recognize. There is no such thing as well intentioned discrimination.

  • Being forced would require the venue to have to cater to all weddings when the venue does not nor ever has been used for weddings. The owners still can believe gay marriage is sinful, they still get to go to church, they still have personal religious freedom. But unless they are an official church owned entity which has the mission of serving their own religious community, they are a public business serving the community at large that is required to adhere to the law of the land.. Not the community at large minus a certain group of individuals. Your argument is a huge stretch. The officiant and wedding guests are the participants. When was the last time you heard of guests also being tipped for attending a wedding? Those are the folks that are free to participate or not. By your logic then, you might as well refuse paying your taxes given that they support the salaries of state officials who conduct civil marriages.

    Sometimes acting on beliefs, right or wrong, has costs. If one interprets a situation as that they are being compelled to participate in something they don’t agree with/believe in, then the choice is to do something else.