QUESTION: If I own a bakery and a Christian won't buy my product because I am an atheist, should I sue the Christian for refusing to buy my products? Will the ACLU join as Friends of the Court? If I am black florist and a white person refuses to buy my flowers, can I sue that person? Will Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson bring the media to my shop?
IN WHAT APPARENTLY WAS NOT A HARD decision, the ACLU aligned with a gay couple who were refused a cake by a Christian baker.
According to the ACLU, Colorado state law prohibits public accommodations, including businesses such as Masterpiece Cakeshop, from refusing service based on factors such as race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation..
The Masterpiece Cakeshop is located in Lakewood CO.
The city has, according to Yelp*, are at least four bakeries in Lakewood that advertise cakes:
- Cakes by Karen
- Elegant Bakery
- Masterpiece Cakeshop
- Taste of Denmark
Lakewood is roughly 7.5 miles from Denver if Google Maps is accurate. Denver has multiple bakeries that specialize in cakes, including lé Bakery Sensual whose customers have some "interesting" things to say about their wares on the Yelp* review page. (CAUTION Some photos of the cakes on the bakery's page are "X" rated.)
I CAN UNDERSTAND WHY there are anti-discrimination laws; in particular I can understand why there are anti-discrimination laws relating to interstate commerce (e.g., bus, train, rail, and boat transportation where equal accommodations were not always available).
But I am hard pressed to understand why the government's heavy hand comes down on small business people who have competition nearby. If I don't like the way I am treated, or if someone refuses to sell something to me I might be - being polite now - "upset" and grumble to all my acquaintances about what a jerk that vendor is, but in the end I would go elsewhere, to someplace that wants my business and my money. I would not run to the ACLU - which, I think, ought to be on the bakery's side against the burdensome government law - nor would I hasten off to my friendly Member of the Bar.
Assuming, of course, that I found reasonable accommodation (in the fullest sense of the word) within a reasonable distance and at a competitive price.
In other words, I think the "You have to serve me" pendulum has swung too far.
Just like politics, there seems to be no effort to seek compromise; we are too enthusiastic to pick a fight for the sake of the fight.
What we have in Lakewood and elsewhere is a battle between individual rights.
If the homosexual couple can't get a cake from one store, GO TO ANOTHER. The owner of the store also has rights, albeit those rights are being trampled upon by the ACLU and Colorado's too broad anti-discrimination laws.
In this case, the business owner is the victim of discrimination.
There are other cake bakeries in the area. Certainly there are cake bakeries that would create a cake uniquely for the homosexual couple.
BY THE WAY, there is a "flip side" to this coin.
Under the headline 13 Gay Bakeries Refuse to Bake Cake for Heterosexual Christian Man on the D.C. Clothesline web site tells of bakers who would not bake a cake with a possibly politically incorrect, albeit NOT in violation of any law, statement.
What's good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander, at least in the politically correct U.S.A.