Not since Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book, “In the Night Kitchen,” where Mickey gets thrown into the baker’s batter has baking assumed center stage as a plot device - until now, when extreme reactions have pitted small family owned businesses against the wrath of the LGBT lobby and some unfortunate interpretations of anti-discrimination law. In Oregon, a couple who own a small bakery were fined a hefty sum for declining to go against their religious beliefs by baking a cake for a gay wedding. For a moment, let’s put aside the question of their religion and pose some opposite scenarios: a gay couple declines to bake a birthday cake for a Catholic priest who has been outspoken against gay marriage; a black caterer refuses to do a party for the KKK; a Jewish holocaust survivor won’t print the invitations for a reunion of Nazis in America. Would these positions rankle State Divisions of Human Rights? Would these small businessmen be fined or forced to undergo “anti-discrimination” training for themselves and their employees? Wouldn’t public reaction more likely be to find another merchant who doesn’t have strong feelings about who pays him for his service instead of forcing every American to do work that is anathema to her conscience?
We should have a better understanding of the difference between people who provide essential services and people who are interchangeable with many competitors offering the same wares and skills. Con Ed can’t refuse to provide electricity for a gay wedding nor can an emergency room refuse to treat a wounded lesbian bride but in a society that flatters itself on the importance of its diversity, where is the tolerance for individuals who don’t wish to participate in the celebration of other people’s contradictory values? There is a world of difference between selling products or offering services to people when their beliefs don’t come into play and being asked to create something that specifically honors a belief that may be anathema to some. How ironic that we live in a country where our freedom of speech is most dramatically exemplified by our freedom to burn our flag - that most unifying symbol of our country - yet we cannot express our individual or politically incorrect differences when it comes to baking cakes. We hate the government for its intrusiveness into our privacy when they access our phone calls under the guise of national security. Where is the objection to the overly intrusive government decree that it isn’t sufficient for gays to have the freedom to marry without the compliance of every single baker among us in baking their wedding cakes?
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