I’m fascinated with this story out of the Tri-Cities in which a florist refused to sell flowers to a gay couple getting married. The latest now is that the couple, like the Attorney General, are suing the florist, and are being represented by the ACLU.
This leads to a lot of really interesting questions.
The florist is clearly discriminating, but it’s not based on the two being gay, since she had done business with them for years, it’s based on their decision to get married.
Suppose she had refused to assist at the wedding of two straight people because for some reason she thought the marriage was doomed. Would that be OK, since straight people are not a protected class?
The ACLU also believes in religious freedom, but what about the florist’s? Christian groups predicted that gay marriage would limit their religious freedom and their right to engage in free speech even if the cause is unpopular?
Looking at it from the other direction, if the florist wins, how far does this go? Could a photo shop, for example, refuse to sell a camera to someone who he had reason to believe was going to make a film or take pictures he might consider objectionable?
Does this mean it’s OK for pharmacists to deny medications like Plan B if it violates their beliefs?
A federal judge ruled in February 2012 that Washington state couldn’t force pharmacists to fill a prescription for Plan B if it was against their beliefs, but they had to provide other options. That’s rendered moot by the recent decision to make Plan B essentially over the counter.
Could you refuse to sell a car to someone who you felt was unfit to drive?
Does a psychologist have to continue counseling with someone who’s behavior they find morally repulsive?
It’s clear that any church can refuse to marry even a straight couple who they feel isn’t ready, could the florist shop re-organize as a church – and put out a sign saying “This is a Christian business?”
There’s no easy answers but may I suggest that if we are all less judgmental, especially about things that don’t really harm us directly – none of these things would be an issue. But of course if you just turn away from what you consider immoral, that’s not good either.