An artist cannot be forced to paint, a musician cannot be forced to play, and a poet cannot be forced to write – Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, September 2017
The story went largely unnoticed, falling in the shadows of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, relegated to not only below the fold, but five scrolls down.
The year was 2012. Charlie Craig and David Mullins were planning their wedding in the State of Colorado. They went to order their wedding cake from Jack Phillips, a baker. Bakers … bake … cakes, right? Phillips said he doesn’t create wedding cakes for same-sex couples because it would violate his religious beliefs.
The government agreed with Phillips that his cakes are a form of expression, and he cannot be compelled to use his talents for something in which he does not believe. It’s a bloomin’ cake … not the Mona Lisa!!!
“Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall wrote in the brief. Let me briefly comment on the quote at the beginning of this post. The true artists that Mr. Wall says cannot be forced to paint, play or write, are not doing so for profit, they are doing so for personal satisfaction first. They are artists. Mr. Phillips is a businessman. The difference is that of night and day and Mr. Wall’s comparison fails the test of logic.
Y’know … let me pause here for a moment of introspection and personal comment. I am a halfway decent cook/baker, and every year around the holidays, my daughter’s various co-workers send special requests … one begs a pound or two of my world famous peanut butter fudge, another my rich caramel apple pie, and still others a hodge-podge of cookies, homemade yeast breads, etc. I go on record here as saying that I always, if I am feeling up to it and time permits, provide these goodies free of charge, AND … I have never once asked any of the requestor’s sexual preference, religion, or ethnicity. I just felt a need to make that statement … I am an equal opportunity giver.
Those who would say providing services to same-sex weddings would violate their religious beliefs, have really crappy religious beliefs, beliefs that have nothing to do with God, Allah or any other deity, but merely about the greed and bigotry of man. These are some of the same people who condemn Muslims, saying that theirs is an evil religion. Well let me tell you something, folks. The Muslims I know personally are less judgmental, more kind and caring, than Mssr. Jack Phillips and others who have refused to perform the very services they advertise, as they judge the would-be consumers of those services.
Last year, after the shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida, candidate Donald Trump vowed to protect the LGBT community, tweeting, “I will fight for you.” Since taking the oath of office, however, he has done the exact opposite, revoking Obama-era guidance for schools on bathroom and locker room access for transgender students, arguing that current anti-discrimination laws do not protect people on the basis of their sexual orientation in the workplace, and finally banning transgender people from serving in the military. Wow … what a guy … what a show of support, eh?
In the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Colorado Court of Appeals has already ruled in favor of the couple, Craig and Mullins. The Supreme Court is set to hear the case during the 2017 term. Last year, I would have bet on the outcome, but with the addition of Neil Gorsuch who Trump nominated to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, I am not so sure.
If I open a business making cute little origami swans and other animals, I have no right to ask my customers about their religion, ethnicity, gender identification, or how many times a day they brush their teeth. If a customer walks through the door and wishes to purchase a product, he is not a Muslim, not a gay person, not an African-American … he is a customer. Period. I have no right to ask questions, nor do I care to. My only concern is to serve that customer to the best of my ability and then charge him a fair price for the goods or services I provided. If I am troubled by his religion or sexuality, then I have no right to be in the business of serving the public and should go to work in a factory.
Why is this so hard to understand? Why is “all men are created equal” a difficult concept? As one of my former bosses would say, “which word don’t you understand?”