Which comes first: Freedom of Religion or Civil Rights?

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Bowser, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    This question comes up because locally we have had the issue surface in the news. It seems that a bakery has refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple because of religious convictions. Of course it has provoked a complaint with the local authorities, and I suspect it will find its way in court. I personally believe the business owner should be able to refuse service, more so when it involves a personal moral conviction. What has priority: freedom of religion or civil rights?
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    This is just garden-variety discrimination, in this instance on the grounds of sexual preference. Most enlightened nations these days have laws preventing discrimination on grounds such as sexual preference, sex, race, disability and so on.
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  5. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Could you cite laws preventing service discrimination? Employment discrimination and even preferential/discriminatory commerce aimed at establishing a monopoly or for personal gain are outlawed, but this is an instance of discrimination at a loss of business. Is the US the only country in which signs are regularly posted in businesses stating "we reserve the right to refuse service"? Since when is any business not publicly funded or providing critical service/goods compelled to provide service? Especially an artistic service, such as mentioned in the OP.

    Is any for-profit business owner expected to prostitute their personal convictions for the right to do business? As counter-example, should an atheist, who performs atheist marriages, be compelled to perform religious services simply for providing the service in general?
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  7. Balerion Banned Banned

    In short, civil rights. Per the Federal Civil Rights Act, it is illegal for a business that serves the general public to refuse service based on religion, race, color, or nationality. Sexual preference is not explicitly mentioned, though your state may have passed a law specifically including it. Either way, the federal act is likely to cover it on the basis of it intending to protect certain classes of people requiring legal protection, and homosexuals certainly qualify. (Though I admit I don't know much about the court precedent; I'm just saying it makes sense that it would)

    Serving the public means serving the public. If you can't handle giving your business to everyone, then don't open a business.
  8. rodereve Registered Member

    While I support the right for businesses to refuse service, it would have to be on the basis of legitimate reasons. Bars refusing service to rowdy drunks, Strip clubs refusing entry to underage individuals, things like that. if you think they deserve the right to service only to people they approve of, its along the same line of thinking that stores refused service to people of black skin color.

    this doesn't have anything to do with freedom of religion, there's no where in the bible where it says you cannot bake a cake for lesbians (or sinners). Lol. if you think it does, then why are you in a business where your faith is frequently compromised. It's like a Muslim hotdog vendor that refuses to sell any of the hotdogs other than the halal meats or veggie dogs. if being homosexual is a sin, well you might have to think twice because all your customers are sinners; liars, murderers, thieves, adulterers etc. The only difference is that being lesbian is an explicit decision, whereas most of the others aren't as apparent.
  9. Balerion Banned Banned

    The Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Probably not, and there are plenty of legitimate reasons to refuse service. If you come into a store naked, for example. Or if you're particularly loud or disruptive. But a business that accommodates the public can't discriminate against people because they're disabled, or because they're a minority.

    No idea what "artistic" has to do with anything. But to answer your question: Since 1964.

    If you think providing a service to a homosexual couple is a prostitution of your personal convictions, then yes, you'd better put on your best hooker heels.

    Not at all sure what an "atheist marriage" is, but I imagine a wedding officiant who serves the public is legally obliged to serve everyone.

    Whether they should be compelled to do so is up to you. This is a question of whether or not they actually are.
  10. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    Not so sure on this one, agree with the rest but most countries make laws which allow churches to discriminate against marrying people unless they fit the churches criteria (are of that religion for example)
  11. Balerion Banned Banned

    Can't imagine he's talking about a church, since he described "an atheist who performs atheist marriages." Marriage officiates are people you hired to do your service. It's not a church thing.
  12. Janus58 Valued Senior Member

    If the atheist provides the service of a secular marriage ceremony, then he is obliged to provide that service for anyone regardless of their religious beliefs. However, that does not mean that he is obligated to perform a religious service if he is is not in the business of performing them. If I own a restaurant, I cannot refuse to serve someone because they are Jewish, but that does not mean I have to cook them a kosher meal that is not on the menu. I am only obligated to provide them with the same service that I would give anyone else.
  13. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    The Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not mention sexual orientation and does not apply to businesses of the sort mentioned in the OP. It does not qualify as a "facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises" (Sec. 201. b-2), or any other covered establishment. So even if you interpret its spirit to apply to sexual orientation, the type of business is definitely not covered.

    IOW, this is not a blanket service anti-discrimination law, even if it did cover all minority groups. But then if all minority groups were covered, the obese could never be rousted from all-you-can-eat buffets.

    Again, not all minorities are covered by the Federal Civil Rights Act, even though the courts could rule in favor of one in any given case.

    Ever hear of artistic integrity? And again, sexual orientation is not covered by the 1964 law.

    Wow, anything for money, huh? Were do you draw the line? How far can the government go before unreasonably encroaching on your personal convictions? Oh wait, you probably have none. Stupid question.

    Good point. By that reasoning, the OP business owners could just make it clear that they do not make gay/lesbian wedding cakes, so they simply do not provide that specific service. Nothing about cake decorating necessitates filling every niche of that particular market. I mean, would they be compelled to make pornographic cakes? Just a different niche, whether people agree with the distinction or not.
  14. Balerion Banned Banned

    You didn't specifically ask about sexual orientation, you asked about laws preventing service discrimination. The Federal Civil Rights Act covers that.

    By that logic, then food stands and food carts would be immune to the law because there is no "on-premises" for food to be consumed. And drive-through-only fast food restaurants could refuse to serve minorities, because all of the food is take-out. Obviously, the spirit of the law extends beyond the specific examples listed. A bakery serves the public, so it is legally bound to provide the same services to everyone. The bakers themselves understand this, which is why they're arguing that making a cake for a same-sex couple amounts to "participating in a same-sex marriage," rather than arguing that they have the right to refuse service. They're saying they didn't refuse service.

    No one said it was. However, it does cover public services. Bakeries aren't going to get special protection like the Boy Scouts.

    They're probably going to be included at some point.

    No one said they were. But it's likely that, at the federal level, the law would be interpreted to include homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgenders. And the point is moot anyway, since Oregon state law specifically mentions sexual orientation.

    Of course, but what does that have to do with this? Are you trying to say someone could legally refuse service to an individual in a protected class based on claims of artistic integrity? I can't imagine that going over in court. I just don't see that. I mean, they could try it, I suppose. But if it came out that a recording studio refused to sell recording time to Jews and blacks, then their claims of artistic integrity probably wouldn't stand up in court.

    Not specifically, but I think most judges would rule that it covers them in principle. And as I said earlier, it is covered by state law.

    Oh, I was wondering how long it took before the troll showed up. Anyway, the answer to your question is simple: if you operate a business that accommodates the public, you have to serve the public. You can't discriminate based on that criteria. "Personal conviction" (or as decent human beings call it, bigotry) notwithstanding.

    Nonsense. There is no functional difference between a cake made for a gay couple and one made for a straight couple. They might legally be allowed to say they won't include two men or two women figurines atop the cake (if anyone even does that anymore) in the same way they could refuse to put pornographic images all over the cake, or pink flowers, if that's the position they want to hold, but they still have to make the damn cake.
  15. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    Just to be clear, my state does consider sexual orientation to be protected under the law. However, religious freedom is protected in the Bill of Rights. I think the owner will take this issue to court with that argument.
  16. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    How silly of me to think you might remember the context of the OP.

    Really? They said "they didn't refuse service"? How exactly did they manage to refuse service then?

    Wow. So now personal conviction is equivalent to bigotry?

    It could be considered a niche market, just as pornographic cakes, and most likely those in question find the two fairly equally revolting.

    I guess we will see if freedom will trump this insignificant discrimination. Certainly this is not the only bakery vying for their business.
  17. Balerion Banned Banned

    The owners of the bakery aren't disputing that denying service to a gay customer is against the law. There's no getting around that, regardless of what some trolls here might wish to argue. What the bakery is saying is that making the cake amounts to "participating in an event," and that such a thing is different from providing a service. It's nonsense, and it won't hold up in court, but there it is.
  18. Balerion Banned Banned

    The context of the OP? Syne, you didn't respond to the OP, you responded to James' assertion that "Most enlightened nations these days have laws preventing discrimination on grounds such as sexual preference, sex, race, disability and so on." Are you resorting to lies already?

    The bakery is saying they didn't refuse service, but obviously they refused to make the cake, so the law disagrees. What the owners of the bakery are arguing is that making a cake for this couple amounts to participating in the wedding, and that they shouldn't have to do that given their Christian beliefs.

    If that conviction is bigoted, yes.

    Not sure what being niche has to do with anything. Point is, you can't argue that making a cake for a gay wedding is akin to making a kosher meal when it's not on your menu, because there are no ingredients in the cake that are inherently gay, or that would otherwise be a burden on the business. Cake is cake; the only difference is to whom it's being delivered.

    No way! Syne is rooting for the intolerant Christians against the pesky discriminated homosexual scourge? Where is the "this isn't surprising at all" emoticon?
  19. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    And I am sure James would have been wise enough to cite a laws "preventing discrimination on grounds such as sexual preference", but you cited a law which does not. And if I responded to that assertion from James then where exactly do you imagine the context of the OP not applying? Both his statement and the OP are about discrimination based on sexual preference.

    You need to cite some reference for how this bakery could manage to refuse service without telling the customer they were refused service.

    And? I would hope that you have a personal conviction against child pornography. Does that make you bigoted? By definition, yes. Does that make your conviction any less valid? No.

    Straw man, as I never made any such argument. But now that you have made it, it only illustrates my point about pornographic cakes. Just because a business can provide a specific niche service does not mean that it should be compelled to do so.

    Of course you miss the fact that what I am rooting for is freedom over inconsequential and frivolous legal action when healthy competition should sort this out on its own.
  20. Balerion Banned Banned

    Still clinging to the lie. You asked for a law preventing service discrimination, I provided it. The state of Oregon, which is relevant to this particular case, has more extensive anti-discrimination laws on the books that prevent service discrimination based on sexual orientation, among other things.

    You'll have to learn how to read properly. They refused to make them the cake, understand? They couple asked for a wedding cake, the bakery said no, because they don't believe in gay marriage. Now that the matter is under investigation, the lawyer for the bakery owners is saying that by refusing to make the cake, they weren't actually refusing service, but refusing to participate in the couple's ceremony, which, the lawyer says, is not illegal.

    Can you follow that?

    Do we really need to argue the principals of what makes intolerance of homosexuality so vile? Is that what it has come to with you?

    Go on. Make your case for why your "personal conviction" against homosexuality is valid.

    Yes you did make that point. You made it here:

    It isn't about what a business can or can't do. It's about what it does or doesn't offer. If a restaurant doesn't offer kosher to anyone, then they aren't discriminating, they're simply not offering kosher. But if they offered to, say Orthodox Jews, but not Reform Jews, then they'd have a problem on their hands. Just like a bakery that offers wedding cakes to straight couples but not gay ones.

    I didn't miss anything. I certainly didn't miss you rooting for the "freedom" to discriminate against someone based on an immutable quality. You act as if that's some benign thing, but it isn't. It speaks to how gross of a human being you are.

    And sadly competition doesn't sort this sort of thing out. Hence the need for the law in the first place. People tend not to take stands, but to do what's convenient. It's why fast food dominates our culture even though we know exactly how awful it is for us. People--even good people--will forgive things like this if it's a bakery they otherwise like, or that's close to home, or some other little reason.
  21. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Tolerance is not equivalent to acceptance. While the law is justified in preventing undue discrimination and hate crimes, it is not justified in compelling acceptance (short of 1984).

    Gay wedding cakes are obviously not "on the menu" any more than pornographic cakes. Apparently the bakery's website even quotes the Bible, so neither should come as any surprise (and should serve as "menu" for any rational adult).

    Freedom from being compelled to act against your beliefs takes precedent over discrimination that does no inherent harm. Wedding cakes are superfluous to survival, unlike many other food services. Do you feel that you, as an atheist, should be compelled to print, record, distribute, or otherwise participate in religious dissemination activities simply because your business does these things in a secular capacity? By your argument, you would be forced to admit that you should be so compelled. If you are fine with that then so be it. At least your position is consistent, albeit differing from my own.

    Perhaps the religious should target such vendors. Yes, they would profit from such business, but how righteous could they pretend to be knowing that they were participating in religious dissemination? I wonder if most atheists have as cavalier an attitude about prostituting their ideals for money?
  22. Balerion Banned Banned

    But making a wedding cake does not amount to acceptance of gay marriage any more than making a wedding cake for a Muslim couple is an acceptance of Islam. You're offering a service to the public, you can't deny that service based on sexual orientation.

    Apples and oranges. There's nothing inherently gay about a cake, whereas a pornographic cake has to have certain attributes that are distinct from other cakes.

    So now all Christians are ignorant bigots? Are you telling me you don't know any religious people who are pro-gay marriage?

    That simply isn't true. People are compelled to act against their beliefs every day. You think Michael enjoys paying income tax?

    And, to be fair, no one is compelling this bakery to make cakes for gay couples. If they don't want to make cakes for gay couples, they don't have to. That's not something that they have to do.

    So are restaurants. But they still aren't allowed to refuse service to someone based on their immutable qualities. Where did you get the idea that a service must be necessary for survival to be covered by civil rights laws?

    If I offer a service that prints, records, or otherwise participates in the dissemination of information, then I couldn't refuse service on the basis of a customer's religion. It's really that simple. I don't have to like it, but I have to do it if I want to run that business. Of course, if I ultimately decide my convictions won't allow me to participate, then I don't have to run that business.

    No one is forcing these people to run a bakery. If they feel like providing their services to everyone is too much of a burden on their ideals, they are free to close their shop.
  23. Mazulu Banned Banned

    I'm sure there are business that simply refuse service on the basis of sexual orientation discrimination. So how does that play out in the courts?

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