The topic of anti-discrimination laws is a subject that I’ve particularly struggled with over the years. On the surface, the idea of such laws existing seems comforting, particularly with the apparent impression of making up for those ills and transgressions that the state and popular culture have done to LGBT individuals in the not too distant past. It also touches a personal level from being bisexual myself. However, closer reflection has brought me to see anti-discrimination laws as being hardly comforting…not only do they treat LGBT individuals like myself as being incapable of making economic decisions on our own, they also represent a philosophy of regressive morality by preaching tolerance through conformity. Neither outcome is truly representative of a socially progressive society, where despicable treatment of other people, irrespective of their creed or identity, would be soundly condemned and punished before there was a need for a law at all. But the existence of anti-discrimination laws showcases that belief to be a farce, as those public officials that champion such initiatives embody very much the same notions of force and control as those they claim to despise.
The judges quoted in the article that challenged the baker’s defense lawyer, besides showcasing a philosophical bent toward the law in question, display not only a fundamental lack of economic and social progress, but also demonstrate the subtle paternalism toward those they believe to be protecting. The idea that people will cease to serve LGBT individuals without such a draconian law in place surmises the impression that no one has economic impulses to compete or improve their business. Indeed there will be those who decide not to do so, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I wouldn’t want to be served by someone who doesn’t want to…for obvious reasons…and would appreciate them being open to me about it. That way, I can go to another establishment that is willing to serve and respect me as a human being. Money is good no matter who is shelling it out, and there are plenty of businesses that would be thrilled to take it off my hands. Not to mention, it empowers me to have a hand in the forwarding of a more socially acceptable society. Anti-discrimination laws merely move those who disagree underground, and therefore harder to spot. As a consumer, it robs me of knowing honestly what kind of service I will get. Indeed the person might serve me, but they don’t have to give a particularly good service. That could have been avoided if such differences could be honestly pointed out. I would go to those that want my patronage…and the practitioner could be spared the “perishable” thought of taking my money…and perhaps face the social media and societal consequence of doing so.
Another point by the judges also showcases a subtle disrespect for LGBT individuals as well when making the claim that there would be widespread societal condemnation if anti-discrimination laws were undone. By claiming that people will reject the care and patronage of them, what the judges are indirectly saying is that LGBT individuals are incapable of exacting social change by themselves. All the talk of advancing social acceptance and liberalization is therefore seen by the judges as only existing due to employers, bakers, photographers, and other honest-working people having their wrists twisted and forced by the state. Is that really social progress? Hardly. All that it showcases is that many public officials only see the advancement of human decency as existing through the use of might and nothing else. Seeing how people have changed their minds over the years concerning the topic of human rights, I find that belief unsubstantiated on the merits.
The only aspect I could perhaps support concerning the issue of anti-discrimination is if a prior arrangement or contract had been made by the parties involved, only to be backed out of due to beliefs when it wasn’t mentioned before. There is also the understood axiom of medical facilities and their supposed adherence to the Hippocratic Oath and being punished if they violate it. And of course such an issue should also apply to public officials which swear an oath to uphold the Constitution and use our taxes in the expectation of equal treatment under the law. To go beyond such constructs only pushes despicable acts and beliefs underground, and therefore not only infringes on the right to associate for practitioners but also those they claim to protect. Therefore, for the sake of the rights of all LGBT individuals to be in control of how they are served and respected, I hope the florist in this case prevails.