November 11, 2006

Naive? Hateful? Planted like a solid oak tree against the winds of perversion?

When small-time entrepreneurs "choose not to work for homosexuals."

72 comments:

Zeb Quinn said...

It's a freedom thing. Freedom in the round, which includes all of its warts and thorns. I harbor a hope in my heart of hearts that con law professors get the concept.

Internet Ronin said...

How sad. People make private choices like this every day. While I disagree with the Farbers, and would never dream of doing business with them myself, I find the highly publicized and response to their decision highly disturbing. The reaction comes much too close to enforcing thought control for my tastes.

John Whiteside said...

It's a pretty interesting example of how word of mouth works in the internet age, actually. I got the email from the couple they didn't want to work with on about the third forward (I live in Houston; it was making the rounds) and it was very clear that the intent of these two guys was just to let their friends and family know what happened so they could choose not to do business with the Farbers.

But whereas 10 years ago, it would have stopped beyond their circle, the ease of forwarding email made it take off.

In marketing terms it's really interesting; it's actually a force that marketers are trying to use as a positive (there's already a Word Of Mouth Marketing Association that's holding a symposium next month).

A good example of unintended consequences, I think.

knoxgirl said...

I'm with I.R. ... I find their "policy" backwards and just stupid. But I think that it's weird that a couple of hillbillies are given so much attention. There are tons of dumb people with dumb notions, not a news flash! (And I personally suspect that their assertion that business has exploded is bull, but whatever)

Joseph Hovsep said...

The Farbers invited an angry response. They could have simply declined to do business with the couple and kept their reasons to themselves, but they sent a written response specifying that they don't do business with gay people. I think most people would find that offensive and surprising and naturally forward it to their family and friends. The story didn't get publicized because the Farbers represent mainstream values. It got publicized precisely because they represent an aberration from mainstream values and it highlights the question of whether prohibitions on sexual orientation discrimination are good policy.

Pogo said...

The Farbers aren't very bright. If they had had the sense to preface their remarks by saying "Because we follow Islam, we choose not to work for homosexuals.” Then there'd be no harm, no foul, and no e-mails and no NYTimes story.

Word to the wise!

George said...

I wonder if there are any homosexual entrepreneurs who quietly choose not to perform work for clients whose religious or political views they disagree with.

Probably not.

SteveS said...

Re: I wonder if there are any homosexual entrepreneurs who quietly choose not to perform work for clients whose religious or political views they disagree with.

Probably not.


Being a gay person is not a religious or political view. There's no equivalence here. The Farbers didn't refuse the couple because of their views, but because of who they are.

dick said...

If the Farbers lived in Canada they would be in court and forced to pay a fine. Remember the printer in Canada who declined to print a gay group's advertisement. The group took him to court and it cost him thousands of dollars. Their beliefs trumped his beliefs apparently.

Where does it say that the rights and beliefs of the Farbers don't matter at all? If they were the only gardener in the area, then maybe it would mean something. What the client should have done is just say thanks for being honest and go elsewhere. Instead they decided that "how dare anyone not jump to their command" and blew it all out of proportion. Now they are trying to push it off on the Farbers who made a simple statement of their policy.

Of course now I am going to hear all about how the Farbers tromped all over the rights of the gay couple but by the same token the gay couple tromped all over the rights of the Farbers as well and tried to damage their business doing it.

TMink said...

Well George, gay people have their share of jerks too. I think you are being a bit optimistic. What the Farbers did was wrong and stupid, it is not indicative of straight people or Christians as a whole now is it?

That would be bigotry.

Trey

Christy said...

Knoxgirl, don't you think maybe some megachurch out there suddenly decided these landscapers deserved their business?

And isn't threatening to sodomize children over the issue simply feeding into the suspicion that all homosexual men are pedophiles?

Shanna said...

What a stupid way to run a business.

Internet Ronin said...

The Farbers didn't refuse the couple because of their views, but because of who they are.

That's true Steve. They have a constitutional right to do that as well, or don't you agree?

(As I said before, I don't agree with the Farbers and would never do business with them myself.)

Joe Baby said...

Rights of Conscience going to become a big issue.

So will consumer rights of conscience, which has long been advocated among urban blacks.

knoxgirl said...

Christy, you could be right... I guess I like to hope that's not true.

class-factotum said...

George, see this letter in Dear Prudence: (http://www.slate.com/id/2148612/)

My partner and I are having our condominium remodeled. We have worked well with one company and asked them to bid a second phase of the job. The person who showed up to bid the job wore a cap with an angry bald eagle on the front with multiple American flags sewn onto the rest of the cap. When I was obviously startled at the hat, he acknowledged, "Guess I should have worn my company hat." I replied, "I would be more comfortable if you had because I can't support much of what the country is doing right now." This led to his reply, "Just so we all support America." My partner and I are gay and feel assaulted by the right wing. We are also horrified by the war in Iraq and so many other issues that our patriotism is very low. That hat was a sickening reminder of my childhood in rural America. I feel that perhaps my money should be spent in a more socially conscious fashion, but I don't relish starting my own campaign of reverse discrimination. Am I making too much of this incident? The company has done a good job for us so far.

-- Uneasy Remodeler

Dear Uneasy,
When did an American flag come to mean, "I want to assault gay people"? You know nothing about this man's views except that he feels patriotic. Since you are the one who provoked the discussion, do you really want to require that the person building your breakfast nook pass your political litmus test? (And yes, if I were to get a letter saying, "I went to a potential construction job this morning and the owners of the condo were obviously gay. I think homosexuality is abnormal and I hate the idea of gay marriage. I don't know whether I should go ahead and submit a bid," I would find that letter just as objectionable.) We are lucky to live in a society in which one doesn't have to belong to a government-sanctioned party or avow a list of beliefs in order to make a living. I know too many people who say they could never be friends with people who have different political views from theirs, and that's unfortunate. But the economy will crash if every service person is required to agree with their client's worldview. Do you know how lucky you are to find a remodeling company that does a good job? Let the guy with the American flag cap get to work.

Palladian said...

Forget the fact that the Farbers are bigots, the real reason you don't want to hire them is that they mow passages from Leviticus into your lawn.

Everyone should relax! They're just following the example of Jesus Christ, who also famously refused to work for sinners!

Palladian said...

See, from Luke 15:1-2: "Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them."

Uh, er... Ok, so the Christ had more liberal business policies than the Farbers! What did he know?!

Mr Farber has every right to work his pruning shears on only heterosexual bushes. Just don't ask him to lay sod!

Anonymous said...

Just don't as him to lay sod!

Great, Mountain Dew all over my screen. thanks a lot.

Joe Baby said...

Plenty of bible quotes about speaking the truth, also. As long as we're psychoanalyzing Mr. Jesus, doubt he would have done their yard work and shuffled off.

Internet Ronin said...

Gee thanks, Palladian (he says while wiping up the coffee spewed all over his desk)!!!

rightwingprof said...

The Farbers have the right to make stupid business decisions if they like, and make no mistake, it is a stupid business decision. I see no instance of anyone's rights being violated here. You do not have a right to be a patron of any business.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

So, the Farbers are being beaten up all over the Internet because they have used religious principles to refuse to provide a service for certain people.

Now I am not defending them in discriminating against homosexuals, however, I do find it interesting that there is no comparable hand wringing regarding the Muslim taxi drivers who refuse to provide a service to people who don't conform to their religious principles (having a bottle of wine with them or carrying other alcohol) Double standard much?

A perk of being self employed in a service business is that you can decide what type of business you want to run and decide what customers you want to attract or decline. Since when did we become work slaves and are forced to work for people we don't want to?

Joe said...

The hypocrasy of many posters is wonderful. A couple refuses to do business with gays and now many here say they would never do business with that couple because of their attitude.

I especially like those who bring Jesus into the matter.

Internet Ronin said...

Joe - I think you misunderstood. I think many people here are like me: the Farbers have a right to not do business with those they don't wish to. At the same time, I have a right NOT to do business with them because of their choice.

What is hypocritical about that, Joe? Whose comments are leading you to that conclusion?

Joe said...

internet ronin,

Stated simply as you did is not hypocricy, but many here have gone beyond that; they have added justification to their actions.

Once you condemn the Farbers for their attitude and then state you would refuse to do business with them for that attitude, you have become a hypocrite.

Joe said...

PS. Please note I used the word "many", not "all". I scratch my head and wonder why you included yourself in the "many."

Internet Ronin said...

Probably because I didn't remember more than 1 or 2 who took the position I thought you were describing, so I thought maybe there was a disconnect somewhere and it wouldn't hurt to check.

When all else fails, I guess I should go back and re-read the comments ;-)

mcg said...

To those of you who are saying "it was a stupid business decision": did you even read the article? If the Farbers are to be believed, the effect on their business has been positive, not negative.

Condemn the policy in all sorts of other ways if you like. But it sure as heck doesn't seem like it was a stupid business decision.

In my view, the Farbers decision doesn't comport well with my interpretation of the faith. No, that interpretation doesn't use Andrew Sullivan-style contortions to justify homosexualty; rather, it recognizes that we are to use far more discretion in our judgement of those outside the church than of those inside it (1 Cor 5:9-13).

Anonymous said...

My reading was that the Farbers, particularly Mr. Farber, felt personally uncomfortable working around homosexuals:

Mrs. Farber said her husband, who holds a degree in horticulture from Texas A&M University, had done landscaping for gay clients before but had become increasingly “grieved” over visiting their homes to discuss design and plantings.

And:

Mrs. Farber said she and her husband never claimed to be perfect.

“We’re sinners, Todd and I,” Mrs. Farber said. But she added: “My husband made a personal choice, according to something he felt in his heart. It was never a judgmental choice or a hating choice or even a choice that said, ‘Well, we’re better than them.’ ”


The Farbers are not coming across as bigots here to me. For many devout people, it is very hard to work around people who reject the principals of their faith. If the Farbers had refused service to neo-Nazis, no one would've blinked. Here in the US, the Farbers still have a right to disapprove of homosexuality, at least until the hate speech laws here catch up to Canada's.

BTW, there's a big difference between, say, a lunch counter and a private landscaping business. I can't see how civil rights would apply in a case like this.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Joan: If the Farbers had refused service to neo-Nazis, no one would've blinked.

And gay people are like neo-Nazis in what way?

mcg said...

And gay people are like neo-Nazis in what way?

Only in the fact that they form an identifiable group, and that's it. Geez, next thing you know you'll be asking her if your pants make you look fat.

mcg said...

Here in the US, the Farbers still have a right to disapprove of homosexuality, at least until the hate speech laws here catch up to Canada's.

Joan, it's really not about hate speech (though many people would like it to be). It is simply the fact that the federal law of public accomodation does not forbid discrimination against sexual orientation, as it does with race. Some state and local jurisdictions go beyond the federal law, others don't.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Only in the fact that they form an identifiable group, and that's it.

Well, it seems to me that Joan is making a subjective judgment about the public reaction to an individual's refusal to work for gay people. The comparison suggests to me that she thinks the offense people take at what the Farbers are doing should be the same as the offense they would take if the Farbers refused to work for neo-Nazis. I, for one, think the moral justification is not the same.

I'm not saying that the Farbers shouldn't be able to legally discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in deciding who they do work for. I'm saying that the public criticism of their decision is justified and that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is more egregious than discrimination on the basis of consciously and deliberately adopted political or (religious) opinions.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

the basis of sexual orientation is more egregious than discrimination on the basis of consciously and deliberately adopted political or (religious) opinions.

Why do you say that? In this case their feelings on homosexuallity are religiously based.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Why do you say that? In this case their feelings on homosexuallity are religiously based.

There is plenty of room for argument, and I'm talking about moral justification and social norms, not interpretation of any existing legal rules...

The underlying justification for laws and social norms discouraging discrimination on the basis of any trait is that the subject of discrimination doesn't really choose his or her race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, etc., so its is unfair and socially destructive to punish people on those bases. Race and sex are more clear cut than religion or sexual orientation.

In the case of religion, and especially in the U.S., people do have very real choice over what religion they adopt and how they act on their religious beliefs, but there is a sense that realistically people tend to socially inherit their religious beliefs and, in any case, do not adopt religious beliefs in a rational akin to the way they make choose political or cultural values. In the case of sexual orientation, people argue over whether people "choose" their status as such and people certainly consciously choose on some level whom they have sex with or whether they have sexual or romantic relationships at all. But, again, realistically, most people who know gay people would not pretend that to the extent they "choose" to be gay (or straight) they do so in the way we make other conscious choices. Personally, I think people have more real conscious choice over their religion than over their sexual orientation and I therefore think the justification for prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is stronger than that for prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion even thought the latter has a much stronger historical and legal basis. But I see the value of protecting both and am open to argument about their relative weights or whether they can be compared at all.

I think we should promote social norms that discourage people from discriminating on the basis of either religion or sexual orientation and so I don't think the Farbers should be legally forced to work for gays or Jews if they don't want to. But I think public criticism of them is valid, especially given their explicit written defense of their decision both to the gay clients and on their website.

mcg said...

Joseph, thanks for the clarification. I do think Joan's point could have perhaps been more artfully made.

But the Neo-Nazi reference is illustrative not because it attempts to align homosexuals and Neo-Nazis in some way. Joan is simply trying to make the point that none of us really believes the notion that it is never wrong to discriminate. Thus she chose Neo-Nazis not to suggest that they are somehow favorably comparable to gays, but rather the opposite: Neo-Nazis appropriately engender far less affinity than gays.

So once you accept that some discrimination is acceptable, the question shifts to how much. And that question is answered different ways in different localities---in the law at least.

Palladian said...

Does Mr Farber think that if he works for queers they'll spend all day looking through binoculars behind their fashionable sheer drapes at his fat, sweaty ass as he fertilizes their bed of pansies?

On a more serious note: this issue is very simple. The Farbers have every right, in the United States and the good state of Texas, to refuse to do business with people they perceive to be homosexuals. They could also refuse to do business with Republicans, Freemasons, or women in Spandex stirrup pants. But they also must live with the consequences of being open about their bigoted business practices. I also, being a citizen of the same great United States, have every right to criticize, mock and belittle their beliefs, regardless of what effect that will have on their business. Bigotry might actually increase business (look at what it's done for the 700 Club), but that doesn't make it anything to be proud of, nor immune from sharp criticism.

Joe Baby said...

Does Mr Farber think that if he works for queers they'll spend all day looking through binoculars behind their fashionable sheer drapes at his fat, sweaty ass as he fertilizes their bed of pansies?

Cute, but unlikely. My evangelical friends are extremely concerned that they live in a country that will continue to prevent them from preaching the Gospels. In short, that they will no longer be able to speak the truth, thus denying it to others.

By that logic, it would have been hypocritical for him to say nothing and take their business. Perhaps that explains why he felt "grieved" of late.

Not sure, but now he's had to deal with the threats that his kids will be raped. "Bombarded with threats and hate mail" as the article says. So far the general response to that seems to be, "he had that coming to him."

The Dread Pirate No-Beard said...

I prefer working with homosexuals. I have more in common with them than breaders. I feel sorry for anyone so homophobic, but living in Madison makes it easy to forget those kinds of folks are still out there.

I asked my relatives Up North what gays do there, either for fun, or for work, or how they get along. "Move away" was the answer.

Joe Baby said...

Damn "breaders" are obviously up to something, seeing how early they get up in the morning.

Jonathan said...

A nice thing about free markets in a basically decent society like ours is that they create incentives for people to work together despite having different, and even mutually antagonistic, backgrounds and creeds. (Of course in a society with bad, or at least some bad, values such as the Jim Crow South, the market might pressure tolerant businesspeople not to work with members of persecuted minorities, but I am assuming that that's generally not the case in modern America.)

At the same time, if you are an eccentric landscaper who just cannot bear associating with gays or whomever, you don't have to. It's not as though there aren't other landscapers who would be happy to take any business that you reject.

It's interesting that many people in this discussion expressed opinions about the Farbers for their rejection of gay clients, but no one expressed an opinion on the Farbers' religiously-mixed marriage. Perhaps different groups of readers have different hierarchies of value-laden behaviors to take offense at.

SteveS said...

re: They have a constitutional right to do that as well, or don't you agree?

They may have a constitutional right to do that, I don't know enough about their business or how precisely public accommodations are defined in anti-discrimination laws to answer for certain. I would imagine a landscaping business would not qualify as a public accommodation, so probably they're free to discriminate. Certainly I don't think anti-discrimination laws about employment or public accommodations are unconstitutional.

Even if their business did fall under an anti-discrimination law, those laws typically grant exceptions for small businesses, and given that it was the co-owner who sent the email, I'm guessing we're not quite in Wal-Mart territory.

As for my opinion, I wouldn't be in favor of banning some small mom-and-pop shop from discriminating. Even if I consider the discrimination odious (as I do in this case).

Re: My evangelical friends are extremely concerned that they live in a country that will continue to prevent them from preaching the Gospels.

They may be extremely concerned, but that doesn't mean their concern stems from reality. Where do they live that their country "continues to prevent them from preaching the Gospels"? Saudi Arabia? Because in the US where I live, people preach freely all the time. Just try riding the subway in NYC for a day.

Anonymous said...

Joan is simply trying to make the point that none of us really believes the notion that it is never wrong to discriminate. Thus she chose Neo-Nazis not to suggest that they are somehow favorably comparable to gays, but rather the opposite: Neo-Nazis appropriately engender far less affinity than gays.

Exactly. Thanks, mcg.

I knew it that it was inevitable that someone would jump at the chance to ask "and gays are like neo-Nazis, how?" and I thought about putting in a pro-active disclaimer, but I didn't have the energy at the time.

SteveS said...

The Farbers are not coming across as bigots here to me. For many devout people, it is very hard to work around people who reject the principals of their faith. If the Farbers had refused service to neo-Nazis, no one would've blinked.

Would the Farbers have come across as bigots to you if they had refused to work around Jews, who also reject the principles of their faith?

Steven said...

'm saying that the public criticism of their decision is justified and that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is more egregious than discrimination on the basis of consciously and deliberately adopted political or (religious) opinions.

I would like you to prove you have deliberately chosen your political and religious convictions, instead of merely adopting the political and religious beliefs you were predisposed for by factors beyond your control.

Please note any "everybody knows" or "it's commonly accepted" "proofs" will constitute grounds for invoking similarly-grounded "facts" from previous centuries.

downtownlad said...

This just goes to prove that most Christians are anti-gay bigots. Narrow minded, hateful bigots.

Of course they have a right to be that way. But should we really expect any more from people who are members of the cult of Christianity.

And "it's just about marriage". What a lie.

downtownlad said...

And what I find completely hypocritical are all the right-wing bigots on here who think it's perfectly acceptable to discriminate against gays, but then clamor their legislators to put in anti-discrimination measures based on religion.

So the Christian bigots can discriminate against gays. That's perfectly legal. But the gays can't discriminate against Christians.

I'll gladly discriminate against Christians - if only based on their low IQ (a provable fact - atheists have a higher IQ on average than Christians).

http://www.useless-knowledge.com/1234/feb/article156.html

a.m. said...

I'm curious as to why the Farbers are 'hillbillies' because of their stance. Because they're Southern? Because they're Christians? I come from Southern Christian stock who also happen to be hillbillies (not hicks, not rednecks) and yet my family is remarkably tolerant of homosexuals. Does that mean we're not hillbillies now? Or are these traits mutually exclusive in a world where Christians are universally vilified for following what they believe to be religious truth?

dick said...

DTL,

I find a whole hell of a lot more screaming and yelling from the gays here than I do from the right wingers. All a right winger has to do is disagree with a gay making gay rights the sole topic of conversation and we hear screaming and yelling.

In this case someone chooses not to cater to gays. It is after all their right to do so should they want to restrict their business just as it is the right of gays to restrict their business to only gays. I used to work a gay switchboard back in the day and I can't tell you how many people called and wanted the names of gay plumbers, gay piano tuners, gay painters, gay construction workers, gay mechanics. They only wanted to work with gay people. These people choose to do the opposite. Both have the right to do so.

What bothers me is that the potential client then went around and essentially "outed" the Farbers nationwide. Did the Farbers "out" the gays concerned? No.

Yet no only do the potential clients out the Farbers but now it has become the subject of all the gays jumping and yelling that these "hillbillies" and "rednecks" (I am surprised that you are not calling them candidates for Deliverance). The world does not revolve around gays. People can live their whole lives and disregard gays. People can live their whole lives and accept gays as people but choose not to interact with them. It is not up to the gays to try to force them to drop their beliefs because the gays demand it. Get a life!!

dick said...

DTL,

I find a whole hell of a lot more screaming and yelling from the gays here than I do from the right wingers. All a right winger has to do is disagree with a gay making gay rights the sole topic of conversation and we hear screaming and yelling.

In this case someone chooses not to cater to gays. It is after all their right to do so should they want to restrict their business just as it is the right of gays to restrict their business to only gays. I used to work a gay switchboard back in the day and I can't tell you how many people called and wanted the names of gay plumbers, gay piano tuners, gay painters, gay construction workers, gay mechanics. They only wanted to work with gay people. These people choose to do the opposite. Both have the right to do so.

What bothers me is that the potential client then went around and essentially "outed" the Farbers nationwide. Did the Farbers "out" the gays concerned? No.

Yet no only do the potential clients out the Farbers but now it has become the subject of all the gays jumping and yelling that these "hillbillies" and "rednecks" (I am surprised that you are not calling them candidates for Deliverance). The world does not revolve around gays. People can live their whole lives and disregard gays. People can live their whole lives and accept gays as people but choose not to interact with them. It is not up to the gays to try to force them to drop their beliefs because the gays demand it. Get a life!!

downtownlad said...

Oh I see dick.

So when a racist refuses to serve dinner to a black person, and the black person advertises the fact - the person at fault is the black person, because he "outed" the restaurant owner as a bigot.

Keep talking. As long as you open your mouth, you'll make my point for me.

mcg said...

And what I find completely hypocritical are all the right-wing bigots on here who think it's perfectly acceptable to discriminate against gays, but then clamor their legislators to put in anti-discrimination measures based on religion.

Do you have any evidence whatsoever to support this charge of hypocrisy, or is this just another one of your mindless exaggerations and/or overgeneralizations?

Besides, I don't know anyone here who thinks it is acceptable for the Farbers to do what they have done. But it is another thing altogether to suggest it should be unlawful.

Internet Ronin said...

The conversation has undoubtedly deteriorated, but I just wanted to say that I could not help thinking about this situation on and off today and had second thoughts on my earlier comments.

First, Mrs. Farber accidentally started this ball rolling by publicly stating the private reason that they were not interested in the project. It would have been more diplomatic to say, "We don't have time." or just simply, "This project doesn't suit us."

As John Whiteside says, the gay couple did not embark on a crusade against the Farbers, but wrote a note to their family & friends saying, in effect, "This is what happened to us and we think this is not a good place to do business." What they thought would be a message that reached maybe a dozen or so ended up reaching far more thanks to the internet.

Mr. & Mrs. Farber are admittedly uncomfortable working for gay men, and use their religious beliefs as a justification.

So, when a Muslim landscaper refuses work with a Jewish client because he feels uncomfortable (or the other way around) is that OK with everyone here?

When a Jewish landscaper refuses work with a German client because he is uncomfortable, is that OK?

When a white landscaper refuses work with a black client, is that OK?

Now change the occupational title to restaurant owner for the above examples. Is that OK? (I think everyone knows that, according to the law, it is not.)

What is the difference? Is it only "public accomodation" or is there more?

To those who argue that their position is justified by their religion, and thus a religious freedom issue, I guess my question would be, where in the Bible does it say it is ok to act like this? (Mrs. Farber, as I recall, already admitted that her behavior was sinful.)

Still, in the end, I guess I've always been more comfortable knowing who my enemies were and acting accordingly, so I'd rather know the truth than have people like the Farbers hide it.

Joe Baby said...

Don't see the point in wondering if their action was justified via Scripture. Believers quote it and it falls on deaf ears, while non-believers use it to debunk Christian behavior and give it authority they never intended.

I go back to the right of association and commerce (see Jonathan's comments). We may not like it, but ultimately it is good that we have the freedom to take our business (or our labor) elsewhere.

I understand this incident might confirm something for people re: Christians, but it might also confirm something for Christians. It's said that the wages of sin = death; in this case the price for foregoing work = death threats.

mcg said...

(Mrs. Farber, as I recall, already admitted that her behavior was sinful.)

Actually, no, she admitted that she and her husband "are sinners", not that this particular choice of theirs was sinful. I happen to think they're wrong scripturally too, but that's a debate for another time.

Regarding the rest of your post, I think the answer depends on what you mean by "OK". If by "OK" you mean "should the law permit such behavior", I am inclined to say "yes" in just about every case---including cases that are prohibited enjoined by law.

But if by "OK" you mean "should we applaud their behavior" or "should such behavior be free from negative social or economic consequences", then the answer is most definitely no. Indeed, it is precisely because of the existence of these non-legal consequences that we don't need the law butting in every time.

That's not to say that societal consequences alone are always perfect and sufficient; rather that we need to be very careful to be sure they're not before we let the law butt in.

mcg said...

Oops, my last post was directed to internet ronin, not joe baby.

TMink said...

Downtown wrote: "This just goes to prove that most Christians are anti-gay bigots. Narrow minded, hateful bigots."

One couple does not a most make.

Trey

Anonymous said...

So, do they ask their potential clients, "Are y'all gays?"

George said...

I hope that Mehlman guy doesn't try calling them.

NSC said...

I wonder if there are any homosexual entrepreneurs who quietly choose not to perform work for clients whose religious or political views they disagree with.

Probably not.


Of course there are. Are you seriously telling me that all gay people are so enlightened and tolerant and open that they are going to accept everyone no matter what their views are?

Joseph Hovsep said...

I don't buy that the Farbers' action is justified because they claim their religion compels them to act this way. Their religion may compel them to abstain from homosexuality, but since when is it a "religious belief" (that is entitled to some respect or protection) that you can't associate with people who don't follow your religion's rules?

I'd defend the Farbers' right to avoid gay or Jewish clients, but not out of some respect for their deeply held religious convictions. They are acting on their personal discomfort with gays and using vague references to Christianity to scapegoat their bigotry.

Joe Baby said...

The "justification" would likely be post-Biblical. Christians in the US have long taken a view of removing themselves from culture. That is changing.

Christians have become concerned that they have sat on the sidelines throughout the culture wars, with the "I wouldn't have an abortion but don't want to dictate" view being one example. Check out Priests for Life, for example. Or see Bishop Olmstead's (Diocese of Phoenix) recent pamphlet "Catholics in the Public Square."

But isn't it "removing themselves" by refusing business? Probably not. Simply going along and taking the business while remaining silent would have been. Refusing the business, disclosing the reason why, while putting biblical quotes on their website is decidely active. It's taking a stand against culture.

Why might this be going on now? The shuttering of Catholic Charities in Mass. has resounded throughout faith communities. (Those who thought the Boy Scouts case was an aberration came off the sidelines, too.) I can't underestimate how much that is being talked about. Also, Maggie Gallagher's article in the Weekly Standard is being passed around.

And now the NYTimes article will be passed around, framed as "see how you will be treated by those who claim tolerance?"

Joe Baby said...

Just to clarify: Catholic Charities didn't close, but was chased from the adoption biz.

Derve said...

JoeB.-- Why are you so bothered by the voluntary decision of Catholic bishops to close the adoption agency?

In truth, more women are choosing to keep their children, so this is a less fruitful service than it once was. Regardless, where the religion and the state were in conflict, the bishops chose to freely practice their religion. Despite the unanimous urgings of the over-40 person Board to keep Catholic Charities open, and continuing placing children under the law. (A miniscule percentage had been placed with same sex parents over the past decade.) I would think you would approve the church hierarchy taking this action, turning down the business, so to speak, to freely practice their faith.
---------------

Mar. 02 (CWNews.com) - Seven members of the board of Catholic Charities in Boston have resigned to protest a move by the Catholic bishops to stop Catholic adoption agencies from placing children in the homes of homosexual couples.

The Massachusetts bishops announced February 28 that they would seek an exemption from state policies that require adoption agencies to provide equal treatment for homosexual couples. Citing Church teaching, that characterizes same-sex adoptions as a form of violence against children, the bishops said that the policy makes it impossible for Catholic Charities to comply with state standards while maintaining its Catholic identity.
********
In a March 10 statement, Cardinal-designate Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, pointed to the history of Catholic Charities in the United States as an agency “exercising constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom” that “stepped forward to provide placement for orphaned children.”

“Sadly,” he said, “we have come to a moment when Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Boston must withdraw from the work of adoptions, in order to exercise (that) religious freedom.”

He noted said that Catholic Charities will “fulfill its contract obligations to the state” while it prepares to withdraw from adoption services.

Catholic Charities, he added, “will always hold the interests of the children to be paramount.”

The Boston Globe reported that a $1.2 million grant from the United Way may be lost because of the decision to not permit children to be adopted by same sex couples.

Joe Baby said...

Derve,

But isn't that about as voluntary as giving a mugger your wallet?

Here's the Maggie Gallagher article -- good stuff's on the second page. Check out the comments by Chai Feldblum. She's pro-gay marriage and she envisions a coming clash.

If that is the case--and there is some evidence that for that--I wouldn't expect America's religious communities to simply wait for the upcoming collision like little lambs. Hence my thought that you might see more of this type of instance, especially in the south.

Meeting it with death threats seems the worst of many tactics.

Derve said...

But isn't that about as voluntary as giving a mugger your wallet?

I think the threat is overblown, Joe. Here, an institution had to make a decision. They chose independence, remaining true to their traditions. Some within those traditions -- sitting on the board -- bucked the leadership, but the leadership held. (plus, it was a dwindling business)

Can you be "mugged" by pursestrings themselves? You're correct that we'll see more such cultural conflicts, I think. If the evangelical branch is politically on the outs, and the (Reagan Democrat) Catholics are rethinking Republican faith-based initiatives, we may see more independence on the parts of the religions in defining themselves and less reliance on conforming to get the funding.

This could be a good thing if you like both marketplace choice and rule of law. Sometimes internal pressures can be best for creating change... from within.

Joe Baby said...

I agree with you on the issue of funding, but it was a larger conflict than that in the CC case (see 2nd page of the article, bottom of 1st paragraph).

Unfortunately, I think we'll see issues of "mission critical" conflicts or the ignoring of court orders before too long.

Or going after tax-emempt status.

dick said...

DTL,

There was a case at Josephine's Restautant in Riverdale in the Bronx. The restaurant refused to serve Rudy Giuliani in 2000 before he announced his cancer. Their reason was the didn't like some of his policies so they refused his whole party who had just held a meeting giving money and supplies to an old people's center in the community. The restaurant sent word to the media about this, it was printed in the newspaper. Should they have done this? Was it right for them to refuse to serve the mayor, especially on the day he was giving a lot of stuff to the elders of the community? Same principle as your restaurant one. Suppose the restaurant owner had been held up 5 times in the previous month, always by young black men who were much like these particular diners. Should he then have denied them service and would you then call it racist?

Fitz said...

I don’t know about the legality of this. One can refuse most anything to anybody for any reason except, race –religion and a host of others. One can refuse service to heterosexuals, red heads, tall people, or Gardeners.
More importantly, morally I believe this is wrong. I am taught by my Church (Catholic) that “any hint of unjust discrimination should be scrupulously avoided.” Just because people engage in sexual sin, adultery, fornication, homosexuality or what not – does not mean that they should be shunned or not have their lawn cut. Obviously basic services cannot be denied them. Better to serve their needs and display a certain civility that would show Christian Charity.

Revenant said...

I'll gladly discriminate against Christians - if only based on their low IQ (a provable fact - atheists have a higher IQ on average than Christians).

That's funny. It is a proven fact that black people, on average, have lower IQs than white people. But I don't discriminate against black people, gladly or otherwise.

Were you lying, above? Or am I just a better person than you?

Jim said...

That's the thing about freedom -- it necessarily includes the possibility that others will make choices that one doesn't like.

Those who resent that the most are easy to spot -- they are the ones more concerned with those other's choices rather than their own.