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And the intended spouses who are refused service are what, exactly? Trees? Aliens?

by Jeremy Hooper

The Heritage Foundation's Ryan T. Anderson tonight tweeted the following:

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 At 8.30.40 Pm

A couple of things here. There have been several cases that were not, in fact, about marriage. From rainbow cookies for an LGBT student group to t-shirt manufacturers who refuse gay pride tees to Bed & Breakfast owners who refuse rooms simply because they think same-sex relationships are wrong, there have, in fact, been cases that have nothing to do with marriage. And you never—never, ever, ever—hear social conservatives making this distinction when those cases arise. On the contrary.

But even if we are talking specifically about a case that does involve intended spouses seeking a service, I'm really curious as to how, exactly, Ryan chooses to classify these customers who are, in fact, refused? Are they not gay people? Are they not being denied the service that they seek and that the business purports to sell? Are they not flesh and blood humans (and taxpayers, importantly) who are being turned away?

Yes, of course they are. And yes, a vast majority of Americans understand this without much added explanation. And so does Ryan, if he's being honest.

And sure, I get the distinction he is trying to make and that he holds onto as a political position. He is saying that same-sex marriage is not marriage and therefore the business owners can claim that they only perform marriages that ascribe to their beliefs. He can believe that, but the laws of a majority of our states and the federal government do not. The fact is that there are a majority of Americans in this country—millions upon millions—who are now just as qualified in every way to marry a same-sex spouse as they are to marry an opposite-sex spouse. Businesses that set up a shingle, who purport to fling open their doors to anyone who meets the basic requirements of patronage, and who agreed to comply with the laws of their jurisdiction (which they did when they opened a public accommodation, whether they realized it or not) are going to have to serve those people—living, breathing, human people—who the nation considers to be citizens and the laws demand to be protected from discrimination. Religious people. Women people. People of minority races. Gay people. And so on.

That said, some businesses can probably change their plan and embrace exclusion, so long as they run a Christian business that only serves Christian customers. But if they choose to go that route, then they are going to have to truly limit their business to only religious people seeking their faith-driven services, and they better start imposing the same morality tests onto every other customer who is otherwise qualified under local and federal law to enter into a legal union. The second they start servicing secular weddings, weddings detached from faith, weddings of couples whose faith does not match their own, or other possible configurations, they very well might open themselves back up. But in some cases, they probably can make this adjustment and become a faith-filled yet gay-less emporium. Assuming they meet the self-imposed burdens, few people will have a problem with this (which is pretty much how the situation in Idaho is playing out).

But the idea that simply attaching the event of marriage to a for-profit business' advertised product is alone enough to grant a special pass to any business that claims itself too biblical to serve the nice young gay boys who are itching for a hitching is a wholly untenable and patently reckless notion. If this were policy, why would it ever stop at just marriage? Sure, Ryan believes marriage is always biblical and that gay people can't play, but other people have these same kinds of ideas about other customs which they apply to other groups of people. What does the law look like that carves out this one exception, when applied to this one group of otherwise qualified American citizens, in precisely this way? Because if you want to talk about slippery slopes...

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