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09/04/2013

Matt Barber is just plain wrong.

by Jeremy Hooper

When a Tweeter confronted the Liberty Counsel attorney, spokesperson, and Liberty University Law School dean on his claim that a Oregon baker was "forced" to close, the reliably incendiary Matt Barber replied like so (third tweet):

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 At 8.11.54 Am

Matt is wrong. Factually wrong. Legally wrong.

The cake, its shape, its coloring, its topper, and its intended destination is just the cosmetic representative. The issue is the denial of business, which was made on the basis of sexual orientation. The couple tried to buy this product, which just so happened to be a wedding cake, and was told they could not do so because of who they are.

A bakery that hangs a shingle and offers up a menu of items must make those items available to the public, in accordance with local nondiscrimination laws. The bakery cannot deny a cake—any kind of cake—on the basis of any of the nondiscrimination ordinance's carefully detailed classifications. It is really not the business owner's well, business, to determine whether or not the usage of the product is "morally acceptable." There are many reasons beyond a wedding why one might buy a wedding cake (e.g. a theatrical performance, a political demonstration, a church's wedding prep class, a bridal shop's opening, a declared bachelor's sacrifice ritual, etc.) and it's not really the bakery's role to adjudicate acceptable use. If you list the product as available for purchase, you cannot deny that purchase for any number of reasons. Sexual orientation is but one reason.

The social conservatives like to focus on this one product—its shape, its coloring, its topper, and its intended destination—because it's an easy mental connection. It's part of the whole "war on traditional marriage" theme. However, it's a wholly unsustainable allusion. It's an illusion meant to distract from the core of this conversation: nondiscrimination laws and their proper application.

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