Tired of the rat race in New York City, Jonathan and Marc, respectively a designer and lawyer, decided to convert a Victorian mansion in the Hudson Valley into a bed and breakfast. They’d always wanted to convert an adjacent barn into a banquet and reception facility.
With the state legislature passing a law recognizing same-sex marriages, they decide to do so and bill their place as a facility celebrating such unions. With his legal background, Marc will even facilitate the paperwork for out-of-state couples.
Given Jonathan’s skill as a designer, soon their facility gains a name for itself. Couples from across the country flock there. Soon, a straight couple see pictures of a gay couple’s ceremony and wants to have their nuptials performed there. Jonathan balks, preferring only to accommodate gay and lesbian unions. Marc agrees with the sentiment, but warns of the legal consequences, saying that if they refuse the straight couple, they would run afoul with the state’s non-discrimination law.
And this is where laws designed to further equality limit our freedom, even that of gay and lesbian individuals. Marc is probably right.
Just as Jonathan and Marc should be free to choose the types of unions they celebrate at their private establishment, so too should a Christian photographer in New Mexico be free to refuse to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. We may not like their choices and may contend that their preferences do not represent sound business practices, but allowing them to choose for themselves how to run their own enterprises is essential to free enterprise.
Those who would demand that the hypothetical New York gay couple — and the very real New Mexico photographer — be required to serve certain individuals manifest their own authoritarian streak, that they can better decide for these individuals how to run their business than can the proprietors themselves.
FROM THE COMMENTS: Rob Tisinai, with whom I don’t always see eye to eye, offers a “counter-example” which echoes my point:
. . . a gay wedding photographer who doesn’t want to shoot a wedding held in a church that works hard to deprive him of his marriage rights — forcing him to photograph such a wedding is adding insult to injury. As it happens, many people don’t believe me when I tell them the same laws that forbid a photographer from discriminating based on sexual orientation also forbid photographers from discriminating based on religion (and vice versa, of course). But it’s true.