Rebuttal: Oregon discriminated against bakery owners
In an article titled “Oregon couple should pay hefty fine for discrimination,” contributing writer Leona Mynes attempted to defend the indefensible: the ability of the government to coerce people into expressive conduct that violates their conscience.
On a topic of moral controversy, such as same-sex marriage and its consequences, it is important to have an intelligent, fair and responsible discourse. Mynes’ article is neither fair nor responsible.
It is rife with mistakes and deserves rebuttal.
Mynes’ first mistake is misstating the facts. She contends that Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of the bakery in question, violated state law by refusing to serve a lesbian couple “based on their sexual orientation.” She states that the Kleins “[told] someone he or she is unworthy of a service based on who they are.” This is false.
In fact, as one of the claimants against them herself acknowledges, the Kleins had willingly served her and her partner in the past.
The question before the Kleins in this case was not whether they wanted to serve a homosexual couple but whether they wanted to be complicit in an act they think immoral — namely, same-sex marriage. This is an elementary distinction, which Mynes, mystifyingly, ignores.
Mynes’ second mistake is equating the Kleins’ behavior with invidious racial discrimination. This, too, is false. The difference between racial discrimination and the Kleins’ conduct is quite clear.
In the former, a business refusing to offer service is doing so based on an immutable characteristic of a patron. In the latter, they are doing so based on not wanting to express their approval of same-sex marriage, which they find repugnant.
Contrary to Mynes’ confused and erroneous comments on Christian theology, they believe this message strikes at the very heart of their faith’s fundamental social institution.
In short, racial discrimination is about who people are; this case is about what people do, and whether others want to be a part of it.
To equate the two is to make a simple category error, one with dangerous consequences for a free society.
Forcing people of deep conviction to violate their beliefs and give sanction to causes they deplore is a violation of the principles upon which this nation was founded. It is tyranny.
Mynes’ third mistake is hypocrisy. Graciously, she grants believers the right of people to believe and practice their faith. But Mynes’ position relies upon a narrowly circumscribed concept of faith.
The authentic life of faith is not limited to the mosque, the synagogue or the church, nor to the home.
It extends far beyond that — to friendship, to love, to education and to commerce.
The state of Oregon discriminated viciously by forcing believers to violate the central tenets of their faith.
Those, like Mynes, who exalt this dogma above all others, do not really believe in religious freedom. The first freedom they believe in is the freedom to obey.
David Moosmann is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.