But boy, does it ever.
I support gay marriage, but with one nagging doubt. Once we decide we have the right to change the definition of marriage, do we have the right to stop? What are our criteria for defining what is not marriage? Wherever we draw the line, aren’t we just giving in to another set of prejudices and biases?
That’s not enough to change my mind about two men or two women marrying with full legal rights, but my prejudices and biases are piqued. Indeed, we have heard of challenges to marriages from polygamists, incest advocates, and others who want to speed the “evolving paradigm” of marriage. Who are we to bar the courthouse door?
It’s not enough to allow gay marriage; it must be celebrated under penalty of law:
Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission on Friday ordered a baker to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples, finding his religious objections to the practice did not trump the state’s anti-discrimination statutes.
The unanimous ruling from the seven-member commission upheld an administrative law judge’s finding in December that Jack Phillips violated civil rights law when he refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple in 2012. The couple sued.
“I can believe anything I want, but if I’m going to do business here, I’d ought to not discriminate against people,” Commissioner Raju Jaram said.
Phillips, a devout Christian who owns the Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, said the decision violates his First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of his religion. “I will stand by my convictions until somebody shuts me down,” he told reporters after the ruling.
He added his bakery has been so overwhelmed by supporters eager to buy cookies and brownies that he does not currently make wedding cakes.
Perhaps that’s the best solution. Rather than allow a business owner to refuse service to someone (a practice with a very bad history), the business just changes its practices. Phillips never discriminated against customers for being gay—even baking cakes for them—he just refused the business of baking their wedding cakes. As with a lot of thorny social problems, I see both sides. His solution to stop baking wedding cakes altogether seems the best solution. His business is booming, and the gay couple who felt discriminated against feel vindicated. Both claim victory.
Or perhaps not. What was the exact damage down to the gay couple looking to purchase a wedding cake? How many other bakers do you suppose would have refused? I’d say none. In fact, I find it almost astonishing that they had the bad luck to choose the one devout Christian baker who would decline to accept their business. No, that’s not right. He would happily accept their business—for muffins, rolls, scones, even cakes—just not a wedding cake. To do so would violate his religious belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. How did these three find each other?
I am certain that Adam and Steve (I can’t be bothered to check their real names) would have found joy at just about every other bakery they went to. There was no systemic discrimination against them (as there was with black people at lunch counters and water fountains in the 50s), just one man with a religious conscience. But that could not be tolerated. Tolerance is a one-way street, and that street leads inevitably to acceptance, and thence to celebration. Woe betide you if you try to go against the prevailing direction.
And why stop at marriage?
Medicare will now be covering sex change surgeries–meaning it won’t be long before private insurance is required to do likewise.
But that won’t be the end of it. Over at Human Exceptionalism I nominate Body Integrity Identity Disorder–sometimes called “amputee wannabe”–as the next affliction for which surgery will one day be required to be a covered service. In this time of identity-is-all politics, what principled reason can there be to say no?
I have no good answer. Do you?
PS: The title of the post is misleading. It’s not the legislative branch (or not just) that’s leading the charge against the traditional definition of marriage, but the judicial branch. Marriage is defined in state laws across the country, but court after court now insists those laws are discriminatory. Again, I agree. But now what?