“It is a discriminatory practice and unlawful for a person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, or withhold from, or deny to an individual or a group, because of…sexual orientation…the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation.” – Colorado anti-discrimination act
Interesting that although the gay rights movement claims to be doing harm to no one, issues like the following arise. A Colorado man, owner of a bakery, refused to bake a cake for a gay couple that requested his services for their wedding. He told them that he would sell them a great many goods, but not a wedding cake, as it violated his religious beliefs. The couple immediately filed a discrimination complaint.
After much legal business, a judge ruled that because of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, Jack Phillips would either have to provide his services to the couple, or face possible prison time. This presents a mountain of problems. What happens when a law butts heads with the Constitution? What happens when religious freedom, and free speech come in conflict with alleged discrimination?
The Colorado anti-discrimination act doesn’t include churches or religious organizations in the text. Specifically, the act pertains to “public accommodations,” places that provide items or services to the public for a fee. Essentially, businesses are targeted by the act. Churches are protected under religious freedom. There are several problems I have with that.
First, if a church is protected simply because it doesn’t sell items or services, what happens if a church does decide to sell merchandise and services? Does it then become a public accommodation? If so, would it fall under the umbrella of the act, and be ripe for litigation if a gay couple were denied wedding services? Second, why merchandise and services? Does faith end when business begins? Are people supposed to set their faith aside if they decide to support themselves by starting a business? Finally, this seems like an obvious violation of religious freedom. The gay couple could go to any other bakery after being denied at the first one, while Phillips has no counter move following his baking a wedding cake for the couple. Phillips’ faith is violated forever at that point, while the gay couple can simply make a different choice. It’s not a balanced fight.
Moreover, what is a religious organization? I know what the law says, but why can’t an individual constitute their own religious organization? Can one person stand as their own religious entity in the eyes of the law? If faith is protected on a scale of “more than one,” why isn’t an individual protected in the same way? In reality, it is corporate worship that is protected, not religion. A church is protected, not the people. And if individuals are not protected from religious oppression, the Constitution is being grossly misinterpreted.
What’s happening in Colorado is wrong. The law is being used to oppress faith. It’s as simple as that. Unfortunately, the law seems to have become more powerful than our federal Constitution. Freedom of religion and speech no longer trumps all. What’s next?