He said they served the gay community gladly for several years but “just didn’t want to be party to a commitment ceremony” because such an event reflected “a commitment to sin.” *
At what point do we as a society cross the line between frowned-upon freedoms and absolute bigotry?
The argument made by the most avid supporters of 111 Cakery, the Indianapolis-based bakery that now infamously refused service to a local gay couple, is that they were in no way refusing the couple of their rights – go forth and be wed, be happy, and have a cake – just don’t do it here. We’re happy for you, even if we think that your happiness is abomination. 111 is not the only bakery to come under fire in the last several months for their staunchly anti-homosexual stance; in particular, a Colorado-based bakery owner named Jack Phillips claimed that he would “rather go to jail than prepare a same-sex wedding cake” after a judge ruled it unlawful to deny service to LGBT customers on the basis of their sexuality.
It’s a sign of better times that these are stories at all – it infers that the greater population is on the side of acceptance, whereas only a few decades ago it would all be swept under the rug, or the victims of discrimination themselves would be cast as the villains. Regardless, it’s truly alarming that there still exists a great many corners of the country where people can genuinely deny human rights and happiness while claiming godliness. The owners of 111 stated to the press that they were very supportive of the largely gay community that harbored their shop – that they had “many close friends with whom they still spoke” from the neighborhood, or that they had helped the local gay bars in the past. (It’s a clear parallel to the racist white man claiming that he has “plenty of black friends.”) They proceeded to mention that gay marriage was inherently sinful, and that they could not in good faith support it. In short, they hid their prejudice behind religion’s veil. “We’re okay with it, really! But you know, God and all..”
In Indiana, lawmakers are pushing to pass a bill that would allow business owners to refuse service based on religious grounds – it is a direct response by the far right to the legalization of gay marriage in the state the previous year. Indiana, as a Mid-western, blue collar state, was always going to have a stark divide, and it predictably has become the center of attention in the gay rights movement. If the law were to pass, any business would be well within their right to deny service to anyone based on religious grounds – so where is the line drawn? Will it be acceptable to not only deny a wedding cake to two women, but an black man and a white woman? If religion deems it so, is it now acceptable to deny service to black people altogether?
I repeat: where is the line drawn?
There seems to be a sense that claiming an ignorant stance in the name of God makes a person untouchable, but the reality is that they are nothing more than cowards hiding behind something that people are scared to show anything but the utmost respect towards. America aspires to stand as an exemplary beacon towards the rest of the world; it’s hard to imagine being presented as a forward-thinking nation while still looking at racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination as “okay.”
*Source: Higgins, Will. February 28, 2015. Indy Star, “Bakery that refused to do cake for gay couple closes its door”, retrieved from http://www.indystar.com/story/life/2015/02/26/bakery-refused-cake-gay-couple-closes-doors/24074691/ on 4/1/2015