Gays Should Support ‘Religious Freedom’ Laws

Demonstrators gather at Monument Circle to protest a controversial religious freedom bill recently signed by Governor Mike Pence, during a rally in Indianapolis March 28, 2015.  More than 2,000 people gathered at the Indiana State Capital Saturday to protest Indianaís newly signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act saying it would promote discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation.  REUTERS/Nate Chute
Demonstrators gather at Monument Circle to protest a controversial religious freedom bill recently signed by Governor Mike Pence, during a rally in Indianapolis March 28, 2015. More than 2,000 people gathered at the Indiana State Capital Saturday to protest Indianaís newly signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act saying it would promote discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation. REUTERS/Nate Chute

Religious freedom laws have been framed as “anti-gay.” These laws essentially allow business owners to deny service based on religious objections. Most often, they have been applicable to Christian business owners in the wedding industry who say that participating in sex-same wedding nuptials violates their religious beliefs.

Many people have focused on the issue from the standpoint of these business owners. Agree with them or not, they have their personal reasons on why they do not want to provide services for gay weddings. It’s over the line for the government to force them to bake a cake or provide photography for a event that goes against their beliefs. It’s their business and they have every right to say, “no.”

However, few people have focused on how religious freedom laws actually benefit gay people.

You might be asking: why would a gay person support a law that permits discrimination against them?

Because discrimination, in this instance, means more transparency.

The opposite of religious freedom laws are anti-discrimination laws. These laws forbid businesses from denying service to people based on a number of factors including sexuality. While these laws are likely well-intended, the problem from the customer’s point of view is the lack of transparency about business owners.

They do not change anyone’s views. They do not make anti-gay marriage bakery owners suddenly join gay pride parades. What they do is tell the business owner: “shh, keep your anti-gay marriage views to yourself!”

From the perspective of an engaged gay couple, this is dangerous.

It’s for their wedding day. They certainly want a baker who’s going to bake a good cake and a photographer who actually wants to be there. I don’t know about you, but when I’m forced to do something against my will, I tend to do a half-butt job.

They shouldn’t have to take that risk on such an important day in their lives.

What’s more is that they are giving their money to anti-gay marriage business owners without even knowing it. Shouldn’t gay couples want to know if someone opposes gay marriage before they hire them for their gay wedding?

That way, if so, they can take their money elsewhere to a business that has no problem with it. Cya. Their loss is someone else’s gain.

It’s much better for customers if business owners are open about their views. Particularly, if customers find their views disgusting so they know to stay away.

For example, I grew up in a household that boycotted Ben and Jerry’s ice cream because of their political views. If you didn’t know, Ben and Jerry are super liberal and openly support liberal causes with their ice cream profits. Because of that, my family never brought any Chunky Monkey.

Liberals are capable of doing the same to openly conservative businesses. Some boycott Chick-fil-A because their owner is openly against gay marriage. Some boycott Hobby Lobby because their owners are openly against certain types of birth control.

Gay couples should also be able to boycott wedding vendors that are against them getting married. Religious freedom laws do them a favor by telling them which businesses to avoid.

Julie Borowski

Julie Borowski is a political commentator living in the D.C. area. She is best known for her YouTube channel where she discusses current events in often a humorous manner. She has two cats.

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  • Joe Geran

    It’s a brilliant point. We shouldn’t stifle the voice of business owners who are against gay marriage. Let them speak out, so we’ll know where not to get pizza or cake!

  • http://signedoffsandiego.com/ Rabid_Koala

    If religious business owners don’t wish to serve gays (or anyone else) it is fine with me. It will create a void that will be filled by some enterprising business person. I can assume that most business people want dollars from anyone as I do, and those who object are the extreme minority.

    Why is it that liberals get their jollies forcing people to do things against their will?

    • Ty Thompson

      You mean they can specialize, become better and more efficient in their own little niche? People might get a better product at a lower price!

  • mdak06

    Freedom of association is the most unpopular freedom, but it should be supported by all people – for exactly the reasons mentioned by Julie above.

  • Samuel whitley

    I hate the concept that a gay person always has a choice where he or she can do business. For example, let’s say a gay couple has an adopted child and the only child care available doesn’t want to serve them simply because they are a gay couple. What’s this couple supposed to do? Move have one of them quit their job? Even if they wanted to do those things they may not be able to do them at the present time very easily.

    I understand the whole the business owner should have freedom to serve whoever, but don’t gay people get the freedom to choose where they buy stuff too? Who’s rights are we as a society better off defending?

    • Mapolq

      There’s a point where refusal of service can be problematic. It’s a compelling argument, for example, that if nine out of ten retailers refused to serve someone or a certain group due to a common belief they shared, then it would fall to the public to recognise those people are facing ostracism from society and are under real immediate threats to their lives, or at least their livelihood. Such things are not happening now in the US.

      Also, one shouldn’t be asking “whose” rights we are better off defending. Not, at least, in this context. It seems pretty clear Julie isn’t advocating for anyone to have different rights from anyone else. Gay people’s rights to religious freedom and freedom of association – and to receive service from other people, for that matter – would be the same as those of anyone else. The question, of course, is which rights should take precedence in each particular case, when they come into conflict. Julie’s is a good argument for the precedence of freedom of association in this particular case. I wouldn’t go as far as saying gay people absolutely should embrace it, but it’s an interesting point.

      • Samuel whitley

        Julie is advocating that businesses have the right to not serve people on the basis of an individuals sexuality based on some religious freedom is good because it advocates transparency. I’d argue that a person’s religious freedom doesn’t give people the right to discriminate against a group of people in the first place. Why?
        I ask because are there limits to religious freedom?

        • Mapolq

          Yes, there are limits to religious freedom and freedom of association. Would you agree there are limits to the right of not being denied service, work or a certain living place? I think we’ve established that these are all important elements for society life. Deciding which principle is more applicable in a given situation, however, is often less about core beliefs and more about practicality, and it can be a very complicated and sometimes technical decision which depends heavily on circumstance.

      • Ty Thompson

        Get on those Amish for their shunning ways.

    • TRNBA

      Samuel your point about the lack of alternatives is fair. But to note in the daycare example the transparency argument may be even stronger. For a gay couple I assume knowing that a daycare is run by a bigot is VITAL information. If given the choice between putting their child in a daycare run by this bigot or moving, I assume the majority would move for the child’s safety.

      Furthermore the religious freedom law may help them avoid this situation in the first place. Without the religious freedom law a gay couple may move to a place such as a small town with one daycare option, believing it to be a great situation. Then when they find out it’s run by a bigot, moving away because a major problem if they intended it to be a permanent living situation.

      However with the religious freedom law and transparency the gay couple could have researched ahead of the time the day care options in the town and realized it was run by a bigot. Then they don’t move there in the first place.

      (This is before considering the possibility that the daycare owner being a transparent bigot, may have ruined their reputation enough to drive them out of business. I grew up in a very liberal Canadian town and there’s no way an open bigot would have survived running any business, whether it’s a daycare or a restaurant. Obviously this isn’t the same in every place, but I’m sure it never helps)

      • Samuel whitley

        I would imagine your place of upbringing may influence your feeling on the matter. In a liberal Canadian town it would be detrimental for a business to deny a gay person service because the vast majority of people would stop going there. However where I live in the bible belt, there are places where it may actually have the opposite effect. In Other words I disagree with you, it would help in some places.

        I also don’t think that it’s fair for an individual person to have to ask “where can I move to where I won’t get discriminated against.” A person shouldn’t have to even think about that.

        • Wiggin

          Everyone is always discriminated against in some way, everywhere.

    • Michael Thomas

      Our own individual rights. My rights trump yours once you cross the line to violate mine. These are God given rights and the government has nothing to do with it!

      • Golf56

        There is no God. Stop being so silly.

  • MarcAllanFeldman

    Divide and conquer. Who are those pitting the advocates for religious freedom against activists for civil rights? Look who showed up in Indiana. The media, government authorities, and mega-corporations. Microsoft, Apple, Walmart, Anthem, Salesforce, all huge corporations using their money and power to influence government to pass more laws to try to control us.

  • Spencer

    Agree, I’m gay and fully support it. Love the new website!

    • http://julieborowski.com Julie Borowski

      Thank you!

    • Julie_Borowski

      Thanks!

  • Jairalee Jones

    It’s kind of stupid both ways.

  • Gabriel Alan King

    Many homosexuals do support religious freedom laws (aka the 1st and 10th Amendments)… but their voices will not be represented on the MSM, who are paid to propagandize the public with divisions, and represent “the entire gay community” with radical fascist political urban terrorist arms such as the illuminati’s LGBT.

  • Yup

    They have an answer to this: “shh, keep your anti-gay marriage views to yourself!”

    They’ll just send out a reporter friendly to the gay agenda and ask a pizza parlor if they’ll cater a gay wedding reception. (Who serves pizza at a wedding reception?)

    You are making an intelligent and reasonable argument to an interest group who is not interested in intelligent and reasonable arguments. They just want their way!

  • SkyHunter

    RFL’s are institutionalized bigotry.

    While your argument may have merit in specific cases, it is still nstitutionalizeing bigotry.

    • Wiggin

      Hahahahahahaha
      *breathe*
      Hahahahahahahaha

      • SkyHunter

        A more sophisticated response from a libertarian than usual.

        • http://julieborowski.com Julie Borowski

          Cool.

        • Wiggin

          It’s what it seemed you were capable of understanding.

  • JasonB

    Let’s get rid of anti-discrimination and religious freedom laws all together. Let business owners run their business as they see fit when it comes to whom they serve. Don’t like the way they do business, don’t patronize them, better yet, start your own business to compete and cater to those that other business pushes away.

    So tired of everyone feeling offended about everything. If you feel the need to protest against a business do so but in a way that does not infringe on their right to operate as they see fit and do not libel/slander the business. You do not have a right to do business with (or associate) anyone, so just move on.

    If you want a business to be forced to serve you when they don’t want to, then that same business owner should be able to force you to do business with him/her when they want you to. Works both ways (well, it should)

    • Ty Thompson

      You mean stormfront or similar couldn’t demand service from minority businesses?

  • Wes Crockett

    Great points Julie. In reading the comment’s though, I wish people would really stop calling anti-gay marriage folks bigots. Are the gay community not also bigots when they are intolerant towards my opinions? What makes their opinion of marriage BETTER than my opinion of marriage?

    Calling me a bigot for my stance on marriage is the same thing as me calling someone a derogatory word due to their sexual preference. Is it not?

    • JGeorge

      I do not think your OPINION of marriage should be grounds for withholding same sex couples the right to marry (in effect, limiting a variety of their civil rights – tangible rights like hospital visits and tax filing purposes).

      I also do not think you are necessarily a bigot for opposing gay marriage because it does not follow that you necessarily hate gay people, which would be the definition of a bigot.

      Many bigots do not realize they are bigots, and often rationalize their opinions with “legitimate” reasons for discrimination. There are three things I would say you should ask yourself, and you don’t have to be honest with me, but you should be honest with yourself.

      1) What is the REAL reason you are against gay marriage? In other words, WHY should marriage only be between a man and a woman? Do you oppose other LGBT causes like adoption and employment/tenant protection, or is your opposition to LGBT causes restricted only to same-sex marriage?

      2) If your reason is religious, do you also support limiting the civil rights for people guilty of other sins, such as adultery? Or do you treat homosexuality as a sin inherently different than other sins in the bible?

      3) Do you have any close gay people in your life? If so, how do you feel about them? If not, why – have you not met gay people or have you actively avoided cultivating those relationships?

      Your answers to these questions can be quite telling as to whether or not your opposition to gay marriage comes from an underlying distaste of gay people in general that you have disguised (maybe even to yourself) with more rational reasons for opposing this issue. Also consider whether you seek to find any argument to oppose gay marriage and LGBT issues in general – this is often a tell-tale sign that you are against gays, not gay marriage.

      • Nathan

        What if I am against GOVERNMENT marriage? Marriage, is and always has been a religious ceremony. Why should ANYONE be rewarded by the government for performing a religious ceremony? Why do two adults who performed a special ceremony get more benefits from the government than any other two adults living together? The simple act of the government SPONSORING marriage for those that believe in it discriminates against those whose religious beliefs (or lack of) DON’T include marriage. These are the questions that SHOULD be asked, not WHO the government allows to participate in a religious ceremony.

        • Wes Crockett

          I have been thinking this for years. I am a conservative Christian and, morally, cannot support Gay ‘Marriage…’ because it is an abomination of, what I see as, a God created union. That being said, I have no real objection to them being granted the same rights, from a govt. perspective, as my wife and I hold. The state govt’s should look to reclassify all marriages as a civil contract, not ‘marriage.’ As silly as ‘changing the word’ may seem, it would appease a lot of the conservative crowd; including myself

        • JGeorge

          Well that’s another way of approaching it. I wasn’t necessarily advocating for government-sanctioned marriage per se.. just for same sex couples to have access to the same basic legal rights (joint adoption, hospital visitation privileges, tax filing) as “married” straight couples… these are tangible things in people’s lives.

    • JGeorge

      With that said, I do agree with Julie’s column.

    • Cesar Coll

      The word “bigot” is becoming an empty word. In a fews years it will only mean “someone who dissagrees with me”.

      • Wes Crockett

        I’d say it already is. I am a bigot because I have values that differ than the (generally) liberal leftists.

  • http://twincitiescommons.blogspot.com/ Sully Bach

    Cool site BTW!

    • http://julieborowski.com Julie Borowski

      Thanks!

  • Mark Shuler

    I agree, but to the people bringing suit it isn’t really about discrimination…it’s about forcing their agenda onto someone they don’t like. It’s about being a bully…literally. Most people just walk away from people with another viewpoint. It takes a LOT of inner meanness to actually sue someone just because they have a different viewpoint. “Anti-discrimination” is just their tool.

  • AnotherBrian

    OMG, Common sense!!! MUST RUN AWAY!!!!

    I can see a baker making the worst tasting wedding cake ever. Then smiling and saying “you didn’t like the cake? I’m so sorry. Here’s your money back.”

    Or a photographer taking pictures slightly out of focus. “Sorry.”

  • Craig Hansen

    “She has two cats.” Julie, you are the official Crazy Cat Lady of the Libertarian movement. 😉

  • Craig Hansen

    Ask the owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, OR, whether she’s the bigot. There are tons of other bakers around who’d love to cater a gay wedding. She was willing to sell them the cake. She just didn’t want to cater it. As a result, not only had she been sued into bankruptcy by the state, but efforts to pay off the overly hefty fine by using GoFundMe, were shut down by the same pro-gay forces. But bankruptcy isn’t even enough to satisfy the state. No, Sweet Cakes by Melissa was specifically targeted to be made an example of because of her views. Because she simply didn’t want to attend a hay wedding in a state that hadn’t legalized it at the time of the incident. Who’s the bigot, again?

  • TheRabbitHole

    When you consider arguments for either side of this argument, make sure you substitute women, black, buddhist, atheist, etc. for gay and see if it still makes sense. So many of the religious freedom arguments sound like the same arguments used for segregation.

    • mootinator

      Segregation was law. If lawmakers wouldn’t have messed around with who we are or are not allowed to associate with and who did/did not have rights in the first place there would have been far less problems to begin with.

      • TheRabbitHole

        Segregation was law based on the arguments I speak of, such as, “I should have the right to deny service to anyone that goes against my beliefs.” In the case of segregation, the belief was that’s blacks are inferior. Same may go for women, atheists, etc. It’s an argument that spits in the face of equality.

        • mootinator

          That problem was mainly caused by the fact that slavery was legal in the first place. A person should have the right to not enter a contract with anybody for any reason.

        • Ty Thompson

          Go harass the Amish then.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    I can’t remember the exact source of the quote, but there was some famous Jewish intellectual who opposed laws against holocaust denalism on the grounds that “knowing which of my neighbors are Nazis is very useful information to me.”

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    The big problem with the “Religious Freedom Laws” is that they give special privileges to establishments of religion rather than allowing everyone to exercise freedom of association and disassociation. In doing so they neuter the liberty movement by removing the incentive for religious conservatives to fight for anyone’s rights but their own.

  • James

    Or here’s another solution for Christian businesses. If they’re forced to serving a gay wedding, they should oblige them, but then let them know in advance that all proceeds will be donated to a pro-family, pro-traditional marriage organization. Then, the ball is in their court as to whether or not they want to go forward.

    • Jake Marion

      We came up with the same idea independently. I have great respect for your creative mind.

  • Lord Mannyrossa

    In principle this sounds like it could maybe work. However, they tried these things during the segregation days. Having a scenario where someone might have to travel 100 miles to get a cake because all of the business owners happen to hate gay people would be a rather perverse result.

    All of this is moot because businesses a long time ago were deemed to be subject to the 14th amendment’s protections as they were deemed to all be engaged in interstate commerce. That means discrimination is not allowable.

    I’m normally a small government person, but I am OK with the government telling people who wish to operate a business that they can’t discriminate against someone. If you live in a state that allows gay people to marry and you want to start a wedding cake business, you just have to accept that you may have a gay couple ask you for a cake. If that doesn’t sit well with you, there are other businesses that won’t subject your ‘religious beliefs’ to those conundrums.

  • Westwoodman

    The truth is that by forcing these bigots to serve everyone they are forced to come into contact with those they fear and hate. During that process they’re far more likely to discover that people are all the same, and that their hatred and bigotry is misguided and misplaced. Allowing them to wall themselves off and refuse to meet those who are “different” only reinforces their bigotry. Religious Freedom laws do exactly what the Constitution sought to outlaw…the idea that a religion could force others to conform to their beliefs. No, thank you. We have enough bigots.

    • Wiggin

      That’s a nice ideal, but it’s not your job or the government’s job to “fix” people you think have a problem.

  • Jake Marion

    I have just thought of a practical solution for the reluctant business owner who will be forced to say yes under threat of law.
    They are free to advertise that a portion of the revenues from their transaction will be donated to a Christian charity. One that promotes traditional marriage, heterosexuality, and family and that they will advertise this fact.
    “Buy your wedding cake from us and we will donate $xx to Focus on the Family Ministries!”

    • Ty Thompson

      That or businesses will stop advertising publicly and only do so in properly aligned publications, leading to even greater segregation.

  • Golf56

    Your argument is the equivalent of business owners being allowed to say: ‘We don’t serve blacks, we don’t serve women, we don’t serve people with blue eyes, so please go somewhere else, even if there is no similar business for three hundred miles. Oh, and by the way, all you blacks, women and people with blue eyes, stop trying to oppress us with your black female blue-eyed agenda. Oh, and really you should be grateful we are openly bigoted.’

    If you don’t agree with serving the entire community equally, then don’t start a business. Jeez, you people are warped.

  • Tim A

    I’m all for it… as long as there is a clause in these laws that require businesses to state in signage in the store, and in all advertising, including websites, those they will not serve due to their religious convictions… “We do not serve gays, Blacks, Jews, or Muslims in this establishment.” Stand by your convictions and post it for the world to see.

  • AIG

    As a gay man I support religious freedom laws. It gives me a better idea about which businesses I do not wish to familiarize myself with. Also, Julia brought up a good point. Just as they should not be forced to cater my wedding, I should not be forced to serve organizations I do not agree with, such as NOM or Westboro Baptist Church.

  • AIG

    As a gay man I am so deeply embarrassed by what my community has become. It gives all gay people a bad image and we are treated even worse because of pro-gay extremists. Everyone has a right to disagree with each other. No one has a right to force one another.