Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Enough About the Cake!: I Need to Vent about Anti-Gay Discrimination...

I was traveling quite a bit yesterday and ended up having to turn off the radio in disgust twice while different radio hosts discussed the Pope's support of Kim Davis, Kim Davis herself, and anti-discrimination public accomodation laws in general. The gist of the first show was that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of nationwide marriage equality and now all of these wedding businesses and public officials are being forced to provide services for same-sex couples. And why is it that the religious liberties of small business owners aren't being protected in the first place.

Basically, there are about two or three different issues going on here that have developed over time, but aren't related to each other. I'm going to trying breaking these down.
First, "Obergefell V. Hodges" had nothing to do with what happened to Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon or the Gortz Haus wedding venue in Grimes, IA, or the handful of other businesses that got in trouble for overtly discriminating against gay customers. It has everything to do with the fact that those states have specifically included sexual orientation among a list of characteristics on their anti-discrimination ordinances. Stuff like race or gender or disability or religion.

These particular cases have been circulating long before "Obergefell" was argued, much less ruled on. These businesses aren't in trouble for disagreeing with gay marriage. They are in trouble for being found guilty of discriminating against gay or lesbian customers. It just happens that the services that they offer provide wedding services.

If everything was handled the same way, they still would have been in trouble for discriminating against customers because they were black or interracial or Jewish or disabled or even a Christian instead of gay. Trust me. It happens.

Not everyone files a complaint when discrimination happens. But it's the right of a customer to file a complaint if they feel like they've been unlawfully discriminated against.

Second, there are other cases that have blown up in the news involving small businesses that have said that they discriminate against gay people and couples. I'm thinking of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, IN, and Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville, MI, specifically, but I know of others. These cases blew up in social media after people complained or after a news article aired. People hollered and complained and made the business owners miserable.

But these were legal forms of discrimination. Most states do not bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Even after the "Obergefell" decision.

In fact, there are many more situations of gay and lesbian people who have lost their jobs after they got married or after they had a kid with their same-sex partner than businesses that have gotten in trouble for discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. There have been many more situations of people who've been drummed out of teaching and pastoral positions for expressing anything but outright condemnation for their gay and lesbian loved ones.

"Obergefell" didn't change this. "Obergefell" just made it so that marriage equality was a reality nationwide. You can still be an anti-gay jerk -- as long as you're in the majority of states...

1 comment:

Katy Anders said...

Yeah, people get a lot of different issues kind of mixed up in their heads when they are trying to discuss LGBT discrimination.

My home town of Houston is a good example of how jumbled things can get in this regard. Our city anti-discrimination ordinance turned into a national story thanks to the fact that our mayor is a lesbian, and now that we're going to vote on it, opponents are referring to it as "the bathroom bill." (Apparently men in women's clothing are waiting until it passes to storm the ladies room and abduct little girls)

It felt like this was all done when Ogberfell happened. It's not. In fact, it's hard to believe that was only 3 months ago.