Thursday, September 5, 2013

And They Say We Want Special Rights

Sign on the storefront of Sweet Cakes By Melissa, which the owners seem to have temporarily closed during an investigation about their refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding:

"This fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong. Your religious freedom is becoming not Free anymore. This is ridiculous that we can not practice our faith. The LORD is good and we will continue to serve HIM with all our heart." 

Will someone please, for the love, direct me to the passage in the Bible that sayeth, "Thou shalt not bake cakes for gay weddings"?

Because if that clause doesn't exist, it's difficult to see the above quote as anything other than imaginary martyrdom and contrived persecution. These people are operating a business, not a church or private club. They are not being preventing from going to church. Rather, as businessowners, they are being expected to comply with the law rather than being granted special rights to discriminate against some classes of people.

One of the owners of the bakery tries to explain:

“Discrimination is really the wrong terminology for what took place,” said Aaron Klein in an interview with KATU. “I didn’t want to be a part of her marriage, which I think is wrong."

That's weird.

Aside from the fact that Mr. Klein should maybe familiarize himself with the meaning of "discrimination," do bakers usually attend and participate in the wedding they bake for, or do they mostly bake the cake and have it delivered or picked up to be taken to the ceremony? At my Immoral Lesbian Wedding, we picked our cake up, never interacted with the bakery owners, and talked to the baker for like 15 minutes.

I'm sure it was very traumatic for her.

And, that's what gets to me.

Why, why is same-sex marriage and homosexuality the line in the sand, for some people? 

If the argument is now that baking while Christian constitutes "practicing" one's "faith," then I want to see Christians really own that argument and start applying it, ahem, indiscriminately to instances of sin other than homosexuality. For instance, presumably, anti-gay Christian bakers who cherish their religious freedoms do not inquire into whether, say, the cake they are baking is for someone's second or third or fourth marriage. They bake the cake even though they are possibly baking a cake for a relationship that goes against their religious beliefs and morals. They might even, say, bake a cake for a dog wedding even though they refuse to bake cakes for same-sex couples.

Presumably, they sell cupcakes even to non-Christians, and to those who lie, who cheat, who steal, who rape, who molest, and perhaps who even kill.  Even though their baked good is not necessarily complicit in these immoral deeds, the baked good, if good, would be contributing to the pleasure and happiness of the immoral person. And, well, to bake is to practice one's religion, so.

Furthermore, Oregon's anti-discrimination law also includes race and sex, among other characteristics.  That means, that even if someone holds a strong religious belief that, say, women should not be pastors, a bakery could probably still not legally refuse to bake a cake to celebrate a woman's ordination. It could likely not legally refuse, on religious grounds, to bake cupcakes for an African-American man's graduation from medical school, even if the owner strongly believed, for religious reasons, that it was immoral for anyone other than white people to go to college.

That businesses, even if they're owned by Christians, are expected to comply with anti-discrimination statutes is not some brand new threat to so-called religious freedom brought about by same-sex marriage. People have been discriminating against others for religious reasons since this country's founding and demanding the right to do so.

In a way, I'm almost sad when I hear of unsavvy businessowners who seem convinced that being a Christian means that they get to expect some extra special entitlement to engage in illegal activities whilst simultaneously seeming to believe that if they don't get those special rights they, and their religious freedoms, are under attack!  They take this stand, this one stand, and choose to jeopardize their business and for what, really?  To fulfill fantasies of purported Christian martydom?

The bakery owner continues:

“There’s a lot of close-minded people out there that would like to pretend to be very tolerant and just want equal rights,” Aaron said. “But on the other hand, they’ve been very, very mean-spirited. They’ve been militant. The best way I can describe it is they’ve used mafia tactics against the business. Basically, if you do business with Sweet Cakes [by Melissa], we will shut you down.”

Ah yes, the Tolerance Trap.  Don't fall for it, dear readers!  It's okay to not be tolerant of other people's intolerance of you! It. really. is.

And the so-called "mafia tactics"? One of the bakery's trucks was broken into, although no one has been apprehended or charged. Illegal actions and violence should be widely condemned and I can think of no LGBT group or individual, myself included, who would condone such actions. What's unfortunate, though, is that Homosexual Activists seem to be guilty until proven innocent with respect to that incident, which is a similar narrative with echoes from the absurdly accusatory "Price of Prop 8" propaganda piece.

The other "mafia tactics" seem to exclusively involve non-violent boycotting of this business, an approach that social justice and civil rights advocates widely-recognized and lauded for their non-violent activism have successfully used throughout this nation's history.

But, when it comes to same-sex marriage, it seems that many Christians just really want special rights. They want to take this stand, even though, in reality, they could be taking stands against a myriad of other ways that the legal system holds them to the same (or lower!) anti-discrimination standards it holds others to even though those standards might conflict with their religious beliefs.

[Update: And the purportedly small-but-vocal anti-gay definitely-not-bigoted-though fringe is reacting to this bakery incident in their typical measured, loving, and rational way. Hmmm, let's see if any of those gazillions of nice, civil "marriage defenders" condemn this violent rhetoric or, you know, specifically and personally call him out.  As a related note, I am deeply intolerant of speech that calls for my death at my wedding ceremony. Yes, I admit it. The bigots caught me!]

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