September 3, 2013

"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. ♥"

Sign on the door of the Sweet Cakes bakery, which is closing to avoid having to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples, which the state Bureau of Labor said violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, which forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Is cake decorating a place where freedom of expression should be able to trump anti-discrimination laws? In this regard, is religious expression different from other expression? (I'm assuming there's a big difference between a shop that refuses to serve gay people and a shop that refuses make a product that contains an expressive message supportive of gay relationships.)

64 comments:

damikesc said...

I always thought art, specifically, was allowed to be discriminatory.

Can we now force authors to write books that they disagree with?

Should painters be forced to paint art that they find offensive?

Will Hollywood finally make movies where conservatives aren't evil?

If Progressives REALLY want to dictate expression in such a manner, things can go South real, real quickly.

Freedom of Speech, apparently, is less important than not offending preferred groups.

The Constitution is dying by neglect. Oh well. Time for a Constitutional Convention sooner rather than later.

damikesc said...

First comment died on Blooger, so let's try again:

What can be more fascistic than a government demanding artists produce art that the government supports?

Why should a cake maker be forced to make a cake for a same-sex couple? Do NO other cake makers exist in Oregon?

I am baffled as to why the Freedom of Expression for some is less important than not offending the aggrieved group de jour.

Russ said...

I'm not exactly sure how it would act in practice, but my gut instinct would be to get the government out of the business of mandating equal rights protections except in the matter of its own laws.

If somebody doesn't want to make gay friendly cakes, or serve black people, or rent to immigrants, or whatever personal prejudice they have, then so be it. That business will suffer the consequences and another will spring up to provide those services.

I'm a firm believer in capitalism solving these societal woes, as long as the government stays out of it and doesn't join in, or present roadblocks to entry into the market.

Russ said...

I'm not exactly sure how it would act in practice, but my gut instinct would be to get the government out of the business of mandating equal rights protections except in the matter of its own laws.

If somebody doesn't want to make gay friendly cakes, or serve black people, or rent to immigrants, or whatever personal prejudice they have, then so be it. That business will suffer the consequences and another will spring up to provide those services.

I'm a firm believer in capitalism solving these societal woes, as long as the government stays out of it and doesn't join in, or present roadblocks to entry into the market.

Uninterested Observer said...

My new right trumps your old right. Thanks for understanding.

Uninterested Observer said...

My new right trumps your old right. Thanks for understanding.

Cedarford said...

My guess is this is happening because mainstream Christians have gotten a little too milksop, turn-the-other-cheek. Which makes them ideal targets for the Gay Gestapo and the PC nannies to kick sand in their faces.

Now if it was a bakery run by Black Muslims and they refused to make a cake for "Abominations in the eyes of Allah" ....the militant gays and the PC enforcers of "equality" would have let the Black Muslims be.

Because they likely would have feared consequences from such non-milksop Muslims.

RecChief said...

I used to see signs in many establishments that said "managemnt reserves the right to refuse service.." Is that illegal now? I haven't looked lately, are those signs gone?

Also, since presumably there are hundreds of cake makers in Oregon, my assumption is that the couple went there with the intention of making a fuss. I could be wrong on that one though.

Finally, if you can force the Catholic Church to provide abortifacients contrary to its doctrine, what is a cake maker with deep religious convictions to do?

Hunter said...

I blame all of this on my parents are grandparents generation in the South. Their Jim Crow laws were the first de jure interference with the rights of merchants to choose who they should serve. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was another such interference, but was an understandable reaction to the injustice of Jim Crow. The segregationists mistook Barry Goldwater for their friend because he opposed this particular aspect of the CRA.

As necessary as it was, the CRA set the modern precedent that leads to such outcomes as this.

Administrator said...

I myself have no problem with gay marriage.

Except I know, KNOW that eventually a church is going to get sued out of existence for refusing to conduct a gay marriage.

If I weren't certain of that, I would support gay marriage.

Uncle Pavian said...

I wonder what it would be like to have a business that had so much work coming in that I could afford to turn away customers.

MadisonMan said...

It's not clear to me if they refused to make a cake that was inscribed with words supporting a same-sex marriage, or if they refused to sell a generic cake.

It seems clear that Laurel Bowman, the complaining lesbian, has an enormous chip on her shoulder. So an example is being made of someone who took a stand. Thou shalt not say No to a Lesbian.

What the owner might have done better is discern what kind of cake was not wanted. Ms. Bowman hates, perhaps, vanilla cakes. And then the baker can just say We only make vanilla cakes. Take it or leave it. Or, as one commenter said in the original article, make the worse damn cake ever.

Drago said...

damikesc: "If Progressives REALLY want to dictate expression in such a manner, things can go South real, real quickly."

Are there any actual examples of where leftists have taken control where they DID NOT want to dictate expression and take steps to enforce those dictates?

We see it in Canada, all over Europe and, of course, in every nation taken over by leftist ideologues.

In our own country, what began as nonsensical "hate speech" "laws" on academic campuses are being increasingly copied at the local, state and federal level.

So, yeah, the left really does want to dictate expression.

And they always have.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder what would happen if a photographer was convinced he (or she) was doing God's work by only photographing Catholic Weddings. Could one refuse all non-Catholic weddings and not get into hot water? Let's say he (or she) was the most awesome photographer, too, that the photos were all real pieces of art. Everyone agreed this photographer was stellar. But only Catholic Weddings allowed -- because the photographer felt no inspiration for the photography at a Protestant or Jewish wedding.

Legal?

If the inspiration for your art -- and I'll include cooking in that -- is coming from your belief in the Lord, does this Oregon law go too far?

Terry Canaan said...

People made religion-based arguments against mixed race marriages. Would it be OK for a business to refuse to cater to such marriages today or would that be, at our point in history, just awful?

People may believe that religion is constant, but religion is always moderating to meet the times (although it tends to run a little late). The most strident fundamentalist today would be horrified by the beliefs of Christians of the middle ages, for example. Compared to them, even Pat Robertson would be a radical liberal.

Eventually, this won't even be a question. We'll just shake our heads at how backwards people can be when we read stories like this.

YoungHegelian said...

Our government has seen fit to allow certain faiths (e.g. Quakers, Jehovah's Witnesses) that have long-standing traditions of pacifism to be exempt from combat positions in times of war.

What this means in practice is that some other mother's son takes the mortar round in the foxhole that was meant for the religious pacifist.

We do this as a nation because we know that the pacifism of the Quakers & others is a sincere core belief, grounded in the very words of the Gospels. If the costs of battle get shared a bit unequally, so be it, for this is "what we fight for".

Now, we're asked if the government has the right to punish a bakery, because it won't make a cake for someone, and over a doctrinal issue that the Christian Churches were unanimous about for well-nigh 2000 years.

We are, sadly. moving into territory more appropriate to French Revolutionary Terror now, aren't we?

EDH said...

Would it be illegal discrimination by the bakery if they provided the cake but depicted the same-sex couple on the cake top as burning in Hell?

Moose said...

So can you force kosher butchers to sell you pork? Or force mosques to have mixed gender services?

This can get pretty absurd if you go down this path, however denying someone accommodation (ie whites only fountains) are a far, far cry from a bakery refusing to make a cake for a gay couple. This is pushing the concept of "tolerance" to state enforced acceptance.

People have the right to be free in their dealings, and to not be coerced into accepting situations that may be contrary to their religious beliefs.

dr know said...

Not sure the analogies being given are correct. This issue is more than a religious freedom and free expression issue. The bakery is a business that makes wedding cakes. I am not sure you can be a business that makes wedding cakes for only certain kinds of weddings without violating discrimination laws. It's been established law for a while that places of public accommodation can not discriminate on the basis described in various civil rights laws and their extensions. The question of being artists or having religious beliefs is valid but I think the state views them as a business first and businesses are subject to regulation.

ErnieG said...

They're playing by Chicago Rules:

You put one of ours in the hospital and we put one of yours in the morgue.

You inconvenience us and we put you out of business.

Heather said...

Freedom of expression, is the least of the problem. What about just freedom. A person shouldn't be forced by the government to participate in a an act they feel is immoral.

Glen Filthie said...

The gays are no friends of freedom as you in the US will soon find out. Up here in Canada, once they were let out of the closet to the freedom of their own bedrooms - it wasn't long before they were pounding on the doors of the classrooms, the bathrooms, and the courtrooms. The created some loathsome kangaroo courts (called 'human rights commissions') created hate laws that made opposition to homosexuality illegal - and then they started attacking the churches. This is exactly why people (myself included) - hate gays.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Surely Elane Photography factors in here somehow. I mean, that was the New Mexico State Supreme Court, but it only came down about two weeks ago, and the facts were analogous.

jr565 said...

If the place doesn't want to make you a cake find a bakery that will. I imagine if polygamists asked to have a cake with one groom and five brides the bakery might also have an issue with it. And so what?
Get your cakes elsewhere.

gregq said...

I've got a better idea, how about we get rid of all "anti-discrimination" laws.

You know, let's actually respect individual freedom, including your right to refuse to do business with someone, and my right to refuse to do business with you if I don't like your choices in the matter.

CWJ said...

I generally disagree with AA on this issue on other points. But she gets it right in her final sentence. If the shop's attitude is "gays-be-gone" then NO! Get over it. If the shop objects only to the embedded message, then declining politely, and perhaps referring the patron to another more willing shop should be all that is required.

bpm4532 said...

Can you not bake that cake if the customer requests a big penis and testicles on it? How about one resembling a big pile of crap? Must you always do what the customer requests?

I think the answer is that the vendor has a right not to enter into commerce.

bpm4532 said...

Can kosher bakeries exist? Can suppliers that focus on religious items exist?

PeterK said...

what if I walked into a photographer and asked him to take nude photos of me, and he refused based citing his religious beliefs? would that be discriminatory?
also was this a setup? did the couple target the bakers knowing that they were Christians and opposed to SSM? Why did they approach that bakery? How did they select it? It's not as if that was the only bakery available. Aren't there LGBT friendly bakeries around? aren't the LGBT crowd encouraged to support businesses run by LGBTers?

Leeatmg said...

Just for the sake of discussion, is cake "art?"

How, for example, is refusing to bake a cake for a same sex couple different than a restaurant refusing to serve an African American couple?

Can a restaurant refuse to serve a couple because they are black? If not, can a bakery refuse to make a cake for a same sex couple?

Marty Keller said...

I'm reading Hayek's The Road to Serfdom and weeping.

paul a'barge said...

is religious expression different from other expression?

so different that they mention it specifically in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution? Does that count?

paminwi said...

Why could cemetaries, funeral homes be allowed to refuse to take the body of the Boston bomber? Is that not discrimination, too?

MaxedOutMama said...

It seems to me that there is a real difference between someone creating a work versus someone selling a commodity. Thus a photographer, a cake-maker and a house decorator may truly feel that what they produce is an expressive work dedicated to advancing or expressing something important about the lives of the people for whom they are working.

If they do feel that way, who am I to say that they are not entitled to feel that way?

Refusing to sell someone film with which to photograph their same-sex wedding is a very different thing from refusing to "make" something designed particularly for that wedding.

Let's change this out - suppose some individual strongly believed in his right to end his own life, and having decided to do so on the grounds that he had an incurable disease, he decided to celebrate his exit by saying farewell and thank you to all his friends and family with one last bash. Seeking for that occasion to purchase a giant "euthanasia" cake, he is shocked and horrified when his local bakery refuses to bake such a cake.

He should neither be shocked nor suing on that basis. He may have the right to do it, but he does not have the right to compel others to endorse or advance his goal. He shouldn't have a right to sue a doctor who refuses to sell him the drugs with which to accomplish his end, even if the state has a euthanasia-permissive statute.

When I read the news, it seems to me that the US has created a virtual paradise of human expression, in which groups as variant as the Amish, the Old-Order Mennonites, Rastafarians, Vegans, Hasidic Jews, Progressive Catholics, Wiccans, and the denizens of the Castro district in SF are all free to go their own ways and live their lives as they see fit, and in doing so, have their pursuit of their own ways forward the right of the other groups to pursue their own ways.

All this will break down if we start demanding that each group demonstrate approval of each of the others. Of course they don't approve.

I am very sorry to say that cases such as this have slowly led me to change my own belief system. I now suspect that any culture created by gays and lesbians will indeed be "intrinsically disordered". That doesn't mean that many gay and lesbian individuals may not be entirely sane, but the culture that they have created in the US seems hidebound, bigoted, and self-destructive. Maybe in a generation it will evolve past this. Maybe.

Ann Althouse said...

"Just for the sake of discussion, is cake "art?" How, for example, is refusing to bake a cake for a same sex couple different than a restaurant refusing to serve an African American couple?"

1. I don't accept the high-low distinction when it comes to freedom of expression. It doesn't need to be art and the question isn't "what is art?" But if it were, I would argue that cake decorating is art. Low art should count.

2. The hypo about the black couple, to be parallel, needs an element of expression. So... what if a black couple ordered a cake that said: "Affirmative Action Forever." (I picked that message instead of "Kill Whitey" or whatever to get to the level of message that I think is comparable to ssm.)

MaxedOutMama said...

Elane Photography.

It seems to me that photography is indeed expressive conduct, and that a photographer who agrees to photograph such a ceremony can only do so honestly if he/she believes that he can take photographs celebrating and memorializing such a ceremony.

We are slowly exchanging the traditional American sense of citizenship for a type of "ummah" concept of citizenship. This can't be healthy. The US is too diverse to survive such a definition of citizenship.

vnjagvet said...

Freedom of speech, freedom to exercise one's religion, and freedom to civilly disobey laws one thinks are unjust have been accepted in this nation since its founding.

This case seems to me to bring all three of those freedoms into play. Hats off to the defendants for fighting the fight they believed they were led to by their God, and having lost their legal battle, for having the courage of their convictions by ceasing to do business rather than knuckle under to what they believed was an unjust legal judgment.

To paraphrase an ancient Frenchman, I disagree (somewhat) with the position the defendants took, but I will defend to the death their right to take it.

Sam L. said...

It's always thought crime, to the left.

Bobby Dupea said...

1. None of the critics of the bakery, prone to repeating a 'public accomodation' argument (BECAUSE SELMA YEAH), are addressing the underlying matter. That is, this refusing to perform a contract service that supports behavior proscribed by the Bible is not about the gay provocateurs and their grievance. It's about the gay provocateurs targeting Biblical authority.

This is a political move, and one to invalidate the justification of Biblical authority in civic life. The refused customers weren't even inconvenienced, let alone damaged, because someone is sola scriptura and declines participation in what she defines as fallen behavior. Let's at least discuss what the real issue in play here is.

2. The Left is good with discrimination and the Left's opposition to discrimination is simply situational. Girls on wrestling teams, no boys on gymnastic teams. Women-only health clubs, no male-only golf clubs. I'm sure gay shopkeepers discriminate every day against provincial breeders they dislike on style, sexual, religious, or simply arbitrary grounds.

3. The Left is good with selective appeals Constitutional authority and rights to free expression (a movie calling for Bush's assassination), except when it's not (a rodeo clown lampooning Bush's successor).

4. Because the objection to the shopkeepers isn't principled, or even based on inconvenience or harm, and is just another political power play, it's quite right for the shopkeepers to reference a core right of free religious expression. If they do not have that right, the Amish do not have the right to inconvenience us by using their buggies on public byways. And a butcher does not have the right to inconvenience Jews or Muslims by not providing the right meat butchered in the right manner for Jews and Muslims.

5. If work is no longer a matter of free expression, then we, and our businesses, are simply extensions of the popular will and whatever majority happens to be in power this week. I'd like to know from whence that Constitutional authority is derived. The Commerce Clause I suppose, now that it has been used to render illegal a person choosing NOT to do something (not buy insurance).

6. The fact that some preachers decried racial integration does not mean that those same preachers could be or were compelled by law to marry those outside their racist creed or faith. That's because preachers have always been granted ownership of their own work, and their free expression of religious conscience within it.

7. At some point you just have to tell people to get off your lawn.

John said...

There should be no privileged classes. Not by skin color, religion, sex, or sexual preference, handicap, nor anything else our ruling class would seek to use to divide us.

Duke Dan said...

Why was that supermarket allow to refuse to make a birthday cake for that young boy named Adolf Hitler? Is there really a difference?

CWJ said...

As fundamentally sympathetic as I am to civil unions, all of these stories of SSM discrimination are political targeting; nothing more nothing less. The attempted equation between homosexuals and the black civil rights movement is insulting if not obscene,

Nothing will satisfy the SSM radicals until the Pope himself performs a SSM.

The sad part is that even then I suspect that they will feel cheated that there is no one else is whose eye they could poke.

Then what.

ALP said...

We have a similar case here in WA state, but its a florist. My take is:

Yes, the bakery should provide the cake (civil rights recognized), but on every invoice, work order, receipt, every single piece of paper, the owners can have their say (freedom of speech/religion recognized). Thus, instead of "Thank you for your business" on the final invoice, it could say: "If I had my way, I would not have sold you this cake as what you stand for is in violation of my beliefs...BTW, rot in hell."

Win - win. The lesbians get their cake, and the business owner has her say. Everyone is equally offended.

BUT, here is my burning question for Ann: how can schools and churches be exempt? A wedding cake or flowers are in no way necessary to getting married, but if you want a religious professional to preside at your wedding, and every church in your town is conservative - that leaves the couple with nothing. You have no person to actually PERFORM the ceremony...THAT would seem to be a greater impediment to getting married than not being able to secure the proper baked goods or flowers.

Big Mike said...

At least they closed down instead of lacing their cakes with ipecac.

Real American said...

some animals are more equal than others

A. Shmendrik said...

At the right time, even a bear claw from a Quick-Trip (or even a Race-Trak convenience store) can be a work of art. Assuming it is within the sell-by parameter.

somefeller said...

John saysThere should be no privileged classes. Not by skin color, religion, sex, or sexual preference, handicap, nor anything else our ruling class would seek to use to divide us.

Because, of course, such categories were never used to classify people or to divide them until those darn elitist liberals started doing so. Those dastardly lefties! John is on to them.

David Gray said...

The guarantee to free exercise means nothing to this nation's elites as they are left like blind men trying to describe colors.

Cargosquid said...

Bake them the cake.

Make it taste horrible. "oops..too much salt. I was stressed that day."

Refund the money after the wedding.

Gahrie said...

I think the answer is that the vendor has a right not to enter into commerce.

And unfortunately, you'd be wrong.

Hell, in certain cases, the buyer doesn't even have that right anymore....

subduedchick said...

Making a cake - or taking photos - for a same-sex wedding inherently makes the cake decorator (or photographer) PART of the same-sex wedding, in a way that selling already prepared pastries or photos to a same-sex couple does not. This makes the analogy to selling products to black or mixed race couples intrinsically false.

The better analogy would be: the Ku Klux Klan is a legal entity, and has a right to have meetings. Should a bakery (or photographer) be required by law to design a cake (or take pictures) for their annual meeting? Doesn't seem quite so cut and dried now, does it?

Darleen said...

People made religion-based arguments against mixed race marriages

Terry, that was a limited, political decision, not a Judeo-Christian one.

subduedchick said...

Making a cake (or taking photos) for a same sex wedding inherently requires the bakery (or photographer) to take part in said wedding, in a way that selling already baked pastries (or photos) does not. This makes the black or mixed race analogies intrinsically false.

A better analogy would be: the Ku Klux Klan (which is a legal entity and has a right to meet) wants a bakery to bake a special cake for their annual meeting. The bakery is religiously opposed to what the KKK stands for -- should the state force the bakery to make the cake?

Not quite so cut and dried now, is it? (And no, I'm not equating SSM to the KKK, but I do think it is a more apt comparison than those previously put forth.)

Trashhauler said...

Why must everything turn into a lawsuit? How many bakeries are there in Gresham? Do those complaining think they've won something? It appears that a member of a preferred minority can ruin just about anyone they want to.

Annie said...

A cake decorator works closely with their clients. From style to set-up. For the state to demand someone to participate in an activity they are not comfortable with and goes against their core/religious beliefs - which has nothing to do with hating anyone or being homophobic - that should worry everyone (except those on the left because intolerance is their middle name).
Heck, even some Bridezillas and those wanting to use EBT have been turned down.
You want a pre-made cake or some donuts, fine, you should be kindly served (but not by gov fiat). You want participation of that same baker in your activity, they have the right to decline.
Someone who resents being coerced is going to bring negative energy to an occasion you want happy.

Kirk Parker said...

bpm4532 sez:"I think the answer is that the vendor has a right not to enter into commerce."

Gahrie responds: "And unfortunately, you'd be wrong."

I say: No, the right still exists! It's just that the government, in its despicable tyranny, is denying the person the ability to exercise their right.

Paco Wové said...

Would a Christian baker be able to refuse to bake a cake for a Jewish or Moslem wedding? How about a Satanic one? "All hail Satan and fuck the corpse of Jesus!" Could they refuse to bake that cake?

Sawbuck said...

As an Oregonian I am more than a little ashamed of our Bureau of Labor and Industries, but sadly unsurprised. It is a sadly short leap from prohibited conduct (discrimination in public accomodation) to imposing a duty on all firms to ignore any and all religious or personal beliefs in favor of any aggrieved person's notion of "unfairness".

I wish the bakery had the wherewithal to sue, and get our state courts to properly define the extent of the statute's reach. Until someone pushes back, religious freedom in Oregon commerce is quite dead. It is time to ponder relocation.

JosephineMO7 said...

*Can a restaurant refuse to serve a couple because they are black? If not, can a bakery refuse to make a cake for a same sex couple?*

Apples and oranges. A catholic could make a wedding cake for an atheist couple, an interracial couple or just about any other man+woman combo. Even if they are not catholic their marriage can become sacramental. In other words even if they don't mean they will be open to life, faithful to each other only(chaste) and will raise the children of the marriage in the catholic faith conversion is still possible and the marriage could be blessed by a priest. Not so with a homosexual couple. Their marriage could never by sacramentally blessed.

The same would be said of a 3(or more) person marriage as well.

Leeatmg said...

Ann Althouse said:

"1. I don't accept the high-low distinction when it comes to freedom of expression. It doesn't need to be art and the question isn't "what is art?" But if it were, I would argue that cake decorating is art. Low art should count."

Agreed. But if we can't use the "what is art" reasoning, then why can't everything be defended as art? If so, can a restaurant owner serving ordinary food deny service to a black couple (or a same sex couple, for that matter) by citing freedom of expression? If so, does that not invalidate any and all of the protected class benefits?

"2. The hypo about the black couple, to be parallel, needs an element of expression. So... what if a black couple ordered a cake that said: "Affirmative Action Forever." (I picked that message instead of "Kill Whitey" or whatever to get to the level of message that I think is comparable to ssm.)"

Does it matter in the sense that anything can be labeled as expression? There have been several cases similar to this one - a florist in Washington, a photographer - which are perhaps more clearly art. But what about the laborers that are hired to place the chairs? Is the placement of the chairs "art?" Having seen some public art "installations" I think a fair case could be made, on the facts, that chair placement (or table placement, or napkin placement) could be defended as art. So then what? Can the chair rental company, in theory, refuse to service a same sex wedding? Should they be able to?

It seems to me that anyone could claim freedom of expression as a business owner. If that were the case, segregation would be legal. Should it be?

I'm not trying to be combative here at all. I'm fascinated by what looks, on the surface, to be an open and shut case of an unconstitutional law denying freedom of expression to this business owner. And yet we have a long history of court rulings allowing desegregation and the like. How do we reconcile those two things aside from the most obvious answer - that they cannot be reconciled?

Leit Bart said...

What about a judge who has the power, but no obligation, to perform marriage ceremonies for heterosexual couples -- and she refuses?

A lesbian judge in Texas refuses to marry straight couples, and she is lauded by many for taking this stand.

http://www.dallasvoice.com/judge-parker-refuses-conduct-marriages-cant-performed-me-10102160.html

Would her supporters similarly applaud a judge in a same-sex marriage state who refused to marry gays?

James said...

They aren't discriminating against gay PEOPLE. They are discriminating against a practice that happens to be associated with gay people. Gay people can still buy cakes there, right? Otherwise, you end up persecuting people for having an opinion on a political issue of the day. Which is what this is.

ken in sc said...

I am not a very good Christian. I would have taken the order and shit-canned it. Apologized for misplacing it and gave the money back when they came to pick it up.

Mike said...

The bakery needs one of those little "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" and then just point to it when confronted by unwanted customers. That works, right?