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Liberty Denied in Gay Wedding Cake War

Image: Liberty Denied in Gay Wedding Cake War
(Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday, 28 Apr 2016 03:09 PM Current | Bio | Archive

When Allied forces assaulted France’s Normandy Coast in June, 1944, they stormed five distinct beaches code named Gold, Juno, Omaha, Sword, and Utah. Had they landed on just one such spot, they might have become bottled up, bogged down, and beaten.

In today’s Wedding Cake War, conservatives are floundering on one beach named religious liberty. While that remains a central and legitimate combat zone, the right should fight on at least three other constitutional grounds — freedom of association, freedom of speech, and involuntary servitude.

As someone who always has supported gay marriage, I disagree with conservatives who would limit marriage licenses to opposite-sex couples. As a public good, government should treat gay and straight couples equally. Government bakeries, if any exist, must bake wedding cakes for anyone who asks.

But the private sector is another matter.

Private, gay weddings should mirror straight ones: they should be joyous occasions in which everyone involved willingly participates, and no one is dragooned into attending or contributing.

Traditional-marriage advocates include religious people who strongly believe that gay weddings and marriages violate their Christian, Jewish, or Muslim faiths. Unfortunately for such devout people, America is an increasingly secular nation.

“There are now approximately 56 million religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S.,” up from 37 million in 2007, according to Pew Research. Whether conservatives like it or not, religious-liberty claims increasingly enter deaf, if not hostile ears — many of which trigger very loud mouths. This First Amendment freedom, nonetheless, is worth defending. But it clearly is not enough.

Thus, conservatives need to battle on other beaches, starting by more vigorously invoking the First Amendment’s freedom of association.

Americans enjoy the freedom to associate with and without whom we wish. This liberty is enshrined in merchants’ placards that read: “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” An atheist baker who prefers not to associate with Bible-waving Baptists should be free to refer them elsewhere. Conversely, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim bakers should be free to invite gay couples to order their cakes from bakers who welcome their business.

Likewise, a baker who also runs the Houston chapter of the Climate Action Network should not be forced to make a cake honoring Exxon’s Oil Man of the Year.

The First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause should be another conservative battlefield.

If a judge can force a Christian baker to use her frosting pen to write on a cake, “Happy Wedding Day, Bill and Ted,” that same judge could force a pro-NARAL baker to use a frosting pen to adorn a cake with the words “Abortion is murder.”

If frosting pens do not involve free speech, how about calligraphy pens? Compelling a fundamentalist Muslim calligrapher to write an invitation to the wedding of Simon and Shlomo is no less oppressive than demanding that Rachel Maddow whip out a pen and write the words, “America needs Donald J. Trump.”

If calligraphy is not art, photography surely is.

Denying a women the right to choose whether or not to take pictures at a wedding constitutes art at gunpoint. Just ask Elaine Huguenin, whom New Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled must photograph a lesbian wedding. (The U.S. Supreme Court spurned her appeal.) What could be more un-American than that?

Rather than militate solely for religious liberty, conservatives and libertarians should rail against coerced speech and compulsory expression.

Meanwhile, “Neither slavery nor involuntary nor involuntary servitude . . . shall exist within the United States,” the 13th Amendment holds. While professionals likely need less time, BridalMusings.com advises: “Set aside a whole day to make your cake.” If bakers must spend hours and hours creating cakes unwillingly, this is involuntary servitude. Is this picking cotton in the blazing sun while being whipped? No. Is this exerting one’s labor against one’s wishes? Yes. This insults the free society.

Ironically, Christians are losing the Wedding Cake War because they are too Christian. Rather than forgive, they need to fight.

Armstrong Williams is the author of "Reawakening Virtues." He is a political commentator who writes a conservative newspaper column, hosts a nationally syndicated TV program called "The Right Side," and hosts a daily radio show on Sirius/XM Power 128 (6-7 p.m. and 5-6 a.m.) Monday through Friday. He also is owner of Howard Stirk Holdings Broadcast TV stations. Read more reports from Armstrong Williams — Click Here Now.

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Compelling a fundamentalist Muslim calligrapher to write an invitation to the wedding of Simon and Shlomo is no less oppressive than demanding that Rachel Maddow whip out a pen and write the words, “America needs Donald J. Trump.”
gay, wedding, cake
Thursday, 28 Apr 2016 03:09 PM
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