Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a cake shop in Colorado which refused to serve a homosexual couple, and I agree with the decision.
In short, a bakery in Colorado refused service to a homosexual couple seeking a wedding cake, saying it violated his religious beliefs and freedom of speech. SCOTUS ruled on the case today.
According to NPR:
In a case brought by a Colorado baker, the court ruled by a 7-2 vote that he did not get a fair hearing on his complaint because the Colorado Civil Rights Commission demonstrated a hostility to religion in its treatment of his case.
Writing for the case, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that while it is unexceptional that Colorado law “can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions that are offered to other members of the public, the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.
It’s important to look at what this ruling does – and more importantly does not – cover.
It does not mean that anyone can discriminate against someone based on their beliefs. And it does not mean that members of the LGBTQ community should be treated any differently than anyone else.
Despite what Fox News might tell you, the ruling actually doesn’t have much to do with the legality of a bigoted baker choosing to discriminate against whomever he pleases using his mythological beliefs as a shield. Instead, it has to do with the procedural nature of how the baker was treated by a court in Colorado.
Justice Anthony Kennedy
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:
The neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips [the baker] was entitled was compromised here. The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection.
(We’ll get back to the validity of “sincere religious beliefs” in a minute.)
There is also the point that other bakers have refused to make cakes displaying “anti-gay” messages. While abhorrent, one could make an argument that this violates their free speech. But I would counter by saying that type of “free speech” is actively disparaging a group of people, compared to to… Homosexual people simply wanting to exist and have the same freedom that everyone else around them enjoys.
If you have a business that’s open to the public, you should serve any customers who walk into your door. It doesn’t matter what gender, sexual orientation, race, hair color, religion, et cetera they are.
What this ruling is actually saying is that the baker didn’t get a fair shake back in Colorado. In 2014, the Civil Rights Comission’s lawyer, Diann Rice, had this to say regarding the cake case:
Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust, whether it be — I mean, we — we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to — to use their religion to hurt others. So that’s just my personal point of view.
This is the equivalent of “your beliefs are stupid, and you should feel bad.” It’s essentially shouting down at the baker while going Godwin on him. Yes, I agree that “freedom of religion” has been used to justify awful, horrible things and ideologies. That is objectively true. It makes me groan the same way that seeing “thoughts and prayers” after every school shooting does.
Evidently, this was enough to show bias against the baker according to the Supreme Court, who made the ruling essentially based on that statement. And while I don’t like it, I agree with them.
The problem of religion
All religions are wrong. It’s just that simple. It’s only a matter of time until we have the same reverence for Jesus as we do Zeus. But until the day that Christianity/Islam/Judaism/et cetera are all considered the myths that they are, we have to deal with the logically inconsistent beliefs of the devout… Including what Jesus would have wanted you to do with a cake, I guess.
Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. (Proverbs 14:31)
“Oppressed” Christians like the baker are rather predictable in their defenses. They ignore their own religious texts, and make up whatever they want to suit their own personal biases. Which reminds me of this great line from The Colbert Report:
The only way we’re going to tamp out this cancer on our society is by replacing it with a better ideology – valuing facts and logic. It’s not going to be accomplished by simply shouting at people or creating legislation forcing them to behave in the manner we desire.
Think of it like this: if you have a houseplant that doesn’t look very healthy, you can paint it green and outwardly, it will look healthy. But it still has a problem that isn’t going away. Another option would be to water it regularly and give it fertilizer so it actually is healthy.
Do you want to actually fix problem? Or do you just want it to look like it’s fixed?
A silver lining
If I’m interpreting the rationale of the ruling correctly, the same logic would apply with the Trump “Muslim ban.” If the court is able to look back at previous statements made by parties that are involved to help inform their decisions, then surely they can see the clear racism and xenophobia that comprises the entire rationale behind Trump’s nonsensical travel ban.
The sky is not falling.
This isn’t a time to panic.
This isn’t a time to go on an angry tirade about SCOTUS or conservatives or Christians.
The court said that their ruling is only applicable to a very specific situation. They went out of their way to be clear about that. Of course, many conservative outlets and anti-LGBTQ groups are going to promote it as a “win” to their readers, But really, that says a lot about what they consider to be a victory.
This is essentially a nothingburger.
The ruling isn’t on the grounds of supporting discrimination. Rather, it is about the actual oversight and technicalities of the situation. The reason for the ruling feels nitpicky, sure. But, we want our system to be fair and balanced, regardless of which side of an argument someone is on, otherwise we go down the route of forcing others to conform to our belief system. And we’re better than that.
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