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No, I don't want the baker, florist, et al. to lose a house—that's why I oppose the ADF's deceit!

by Jeremy Hooper

In the wake of the opinion against discriminatory Washington florist Barronelle Stutzman, just like in the wake of similar opinions to come before, I keep seeing anti-equality groups and figureheads make it all about Ms. Stutzman's age ("She's a grandMOTHER!") and what effect this could have on her. The general meme goes something like:

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 At 12.37.19 Pm [AFA]

I've even seen some conservatives insist that those of us who applaud the court's fair recognition of nondiscrimination law are somehow "gloating" over the development. And while it doesn't surprise me, since making us seem like vicious animals is unfortunately what the anti-equality conservative activists often like to do, it is a complete mis-statement of what is really going on.

I, someone who has made the case against discriminatory business owners every time such a situation has arisen, do not at all want Ms. Stutzman to lose her house. I didn't want Melissa Klein to put herself out of business. I didn't want Elaine Huguenin to essentially put her business into hiding. I didn't want those business owners in upstate New York to stop performing marriages altogether. I didn't want the Ocean Grove pavilion from way back to make itself unqualified for the special tax break that is was receiving under a special state program.

The fact that I didn't want these things is precisely why I've implored with these and any other theoretical business owners to please take a breath, appeal to your better angels, solicit some reasoned and reasonable advice from objective lawyers, and, ideally, learn how you can, in fact, comply with the nondiscrimination policies that you knew to exist (or should have known to exist) on the day that you set up a shingle so you could do fair and mostly unfettered business with the public. I am not telling these business owners that they have to comply with nondiscrimination ordinances because I'm some big, bad, mean radical—I'm telling them they are going to have to find a way to comply with nondiscrimination policies because I want a more peaceful world. I am the "good guy" commentator in this situation.

The "bad guy" commentators and advice-givers are the pundits, activists, and legal groups that keep feeding lies to people like Baronelle Stutzman. The Alliance Defending Freedom pounced on her, just like they pounce on most of these cases, mere days after her story came to light. Had a non-activist legal group that didn't want to use her for fundraising gotten to her first, then maybe they could have described to her the practical problems of flouting nondiscrimination law (as the law applies to *any* group). Had that happened, maybe Ms. Stutzman would have rested on the idea, considered the objective points to which she had been enlightened, and made a better choice. But that's not what happened. Instead the ADF convinced her that she had a winning case and that they would be the ones to win it. This was a lie from the start. It was a false setup that had far more to do with conservative activism than it did with fair application of concrete civil law.

So not Ms. Stutzman is in a predicament that could negatively affect her life and welfare. For that she only has herself and the Alliance Defending Freedom to blame.

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