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How far does the anti-gay right want to extend its vendor 'protections'?

by Jeremy Hooper

This weekend was my nephew's Bar Mitzvah. The firstborn son of my husband's only brother and his wife, it was obvious that Andrew, Savannah, and I would have a lot of involvement in the weekend's events. And we did. We had a Torah portion to read, we had video messages to send, photos for which to pose, a candle to light, and much more. Many of these situations involved the services of for-hire vendors.

On a few different occasions, the DJ that my brother- and sister-in-law hired had to introduce Andrew and I as an obviously married couple. Several different photographers had to setup photographs that clearly reflected our family of three, which was on the same footing as our heterosexual counterparts. Planners and caterers had reasons why they had to address Andrew and I as Daniel's married uncles. And more. It took a village of involvement to create the vision that my straight brother- and sister-in-law had for their son, and this vision demanded that any vendor who took the jobs recognized us as we are.

Which made me wonder: Would the conservative "religious freedom" proponents say that these vendors had a "right" to turn down the job simply because of the demand that they recognize my marriage and family? After all, these anti-equality voices often cite "creative expression" as the reason why photographers and florists and what-have-yas supposedly have the "right" to deny service. So what if the DJ who had to call up Andrew and Savannah and I for our candle lighting said that he couldn't use his music and voice to support a married gay couple and their child? Or, more pointedly, what if the photographers who took countless shots of us in various configurations said that he couldn't shoot a family that included a married gay couple? Or what if one of the owners of the venues that hosted our weekend lodging said that he wouldn't extend the special family rate to a married gay couple and their kid? Based on the other side's own exclusionary standards, I don't see any of these questions as far-fetched.

Where, exactly, do our oppositional forces believe we gay families become too visible for their liking? What moves the job from just one of the many others that the vendor takes on in a year into a supposedly special space where they get to discriminate without repercussion? It's unreasonable to say that there has to be a gay-specific ceremony in order to trip the wire, since most of the situations that arise do not even involve the wedding ceremony itself, but rather ephemera from the reception. So since the vendors who took my brother- and sister-in-law's money in exchange for performing a service were tasked with honoring a gay family on the same footing as the other aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews, would the other side claim it's "okay" for them to decline the job for this pointed reason? And if not, then why not?

That I even have such questions speaks to the dangerous slippery slope that the other side is trying to create with their "religious freedom" carve outs. If they had their way, I don't see how any logical way that any nondiscrimination law could apply for much longer. Which might be what they want.

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