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What’s at Stake in the Gay Cake Case




Today the US Supreme Court is hearing arguments pro and con about a Colorado baker’s alleged right to refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

LGBT advocates and allies argue that no American can legally be discriminated against for their innate, inherent qualities, like race, gender, height, or sexual orientation. You can of course refuse service to any individual who is belligerent, or drunk, or not wearing shoes. You can punish behaviors. But you can’t punish inherent traits. To deny service to an entire category of Americans based solely on their inherent characteristics is unconstitutional.

Those defending the baker argue that forcing him to bake a cake for a gay couple violates his freedom of religion, that as a Christian, he ought to be able to discriminate against certain types of sinners. (I guess adulterers, gamblers, and masturbaters still get cakes).

O.K., this one’s easy.

If I am Jewish, and I have a pizzeria, and I sell a pizza to a Christian, their Christian faith in no way impedes or limits my Jewishness. If I am a Democrat and I sell a pizza to a Trump supporter, that does not impede or limit my progressive stance, nor does it signify my support for Donald Trump. If I am straight, and I bake a cake for a gay couple, that in no way impedes, threatens, or limits my heterosexual marriage.

If you don’t like homosexuality, that’s your freedom of conscience. You can legally choose to never have a gay person in your home. But if you do business in the public square, on public streets, and under the protection of our tax-payer supported legal system, then you are bound by law to treat all Americans equally. It is illegal to discriminate in this country. Period. Maybe open a bakery in Saudi Arabia? Just a thought.

If baking a cake for a gay couple is a vote for homosexuality, then voting for Roy Moore is a vote for pederasty.

If you own a restaurant or a hotel, it is illegal to deny service to black people or Mexicans or Jews or the blind. Everybody gets that. So why is it O.K. to deny service to gay people?

At the root of the problem is a metaphysical issue — there always is. Is homosexuality innate or a behavioral choice? How you answer this question is everything. Most of us agree with science, that homosexuality is natural, that it is decreed by God (if you will). It is as innate as eye color. But many Christians (and others) believe that it is a choice, and a terrible choice at that. Pay attention to their language. They call it a “lifestyle,” like wearing plaid or playing golf or collecting toy trains.

Being gay isn’t a choice. Who would choose such a hard life? We love who we love. And in the land of the free, that basic liberty ought to be protected and celebrated. Give ’em the damn cake.

Peter Bolland is the philosophy and humanities department chair at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California where he teaches world religions, Asian philosophy, world mythology, and ethics. Bolland is also a columnist for both Unity Magazine and the San Diego Troubadour. An award winning singer-songwriter and poet, Bolland draws on the world’s wisdom traditions as a frequent lecturer and performer throughout the San Diego region.

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