So in the last few days, Indiana passed a hugely controversial law. This law has sent the internet into a tailspin of debate and diatribes for and against this law, the people who support and oppose it, and what to do about it. There are three aspects to consider in this issue as described in the title. I hope to explain my position on each one of them and how the relate to each other by the end of this article. I know this article will probably aggravate many people on both sides of the political argument because that’s just the way I roll.
Gay marriage. It is time to admit this is a thing. Marriage is a relationship sanctioned by the state and entitles those getting married according to the laws of their state to specific rights, privileges, benefits, and responsibilities. Because it is a state sanctioned relationship the state cannot legally deny one group of people the right to get married. To do so would violate the equal protection they have under the law and the privileges entitled to them as citizens of the state protected by 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution. Therefore, within our civil society, they must be allowed. I do not like the idea of the state redefining marriage because I always wonder what is the next redefinition that will get us further from the truth of what marriage is in our society. But in the interest of equal protection of the laws, equal rights, full faith and credit, and any other number of constitutional issues, gay marriage should be allowed by our society in a civil manner. Where did this perspective come from for a conservative Christian? Let me explain.
My belief about this comes, as strange as it may seem, from a conservative political pundit, Judge Andrew Napolitano. A few years ago, on his Facebook page, he said regardless of whether homosexuality is a choice or not (Not a debate I am going to get into now, so don’t try to bait it), does government have authority to deny these couples the right to choose their mate and get the benefits that come from it. He referenced the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia that deemed the anti-misogynistic laws that prevented whites and blacks from getting married as unconstitutional. This went further to convince me that in our civil society we should allow gay marriages to occur. The fact of the matter is that many of these men and women are living in a marriage relationship already. My friends Don and Quin have been together nearly as long as my parents, why should the benefits of marriage be denied to them in our civil society. Acceptance of this perspective is not without consequences though, both intended and unintended.
In several states, gay couples have attempted to use services related to weddings from businessmen and women who are Christians who believe that gay marriage is contrary to the Bible (which it is) and therefore choose not to take part. Penalties have been laid on them by the state and sued in their courts to force them to provide their services, which would violate their religious beliefs. Anyone who says this is not a clear violation of the religious freedom clauses in the first amendment will have to explain to me why it is not (Those who do please explain in the comments). This is not what worries more than a different unintended consequence. What happens when a gay couple decides they want to get married in my church, by my pastor and he says no because it violates this freedom of religious expression? Will the state step and tell my church that they have to do this or lose their non-profit status? Could a judge order my pastor, on pain of fines or jail time, to conduct such a service? Many of you might say it would never come to that, but if the government can force a business and its owners to operate for the benefit of someone else, against their expressed wishes and beliefs, why couldn’t they do this to a church? The best way to handle this is through the free market of the economy and ideas.
The free market is an economic idea related to capitalism that believes that the best regulator of goods and services is the market itself, not a government or other entity. In a truly free market economy, a business is free to do business with whoever they choose with little or no regulation from the government. When a business says that they will not serve a person they are within their rights as individuals and businesses. No one can be forced to service another person. Just as no one can force a person to shop at a specific business for their wants and needs. So what do we do in those situations where a business owner does not want to service a gay couples’ wedding? Let the free market decide.
Bakery A claims they don’t have to provide a wedding cake for Gay Couple X because to do so would violate their religious beliefs. Couple X is free than to get their cake from any other bakery they want which will service their needs, Bakery B. Bakery A has lost business too. I am also willing to bet Couple X is going to tell their friends who are getting married that Bakery A won’t make their cake which could lead their friends to take their business elsewhere. It may even lead to boycotts and protests, all of which are perfectly legal under the 1st Amendment. Bakery A after acquiring a reputation for not providing cakes for homosexual marriage ceremonies begins to lose business, while Bakery B has seen his business increase because of the recommendations of Couple X. The free market has clearly decided that Bakery B was the superior businesses because of its willingness to put religious beliefs aside in the prospect of getting new customers. This is not to say Bakery A will go out of business, but their rights as individuals in their religious beliefs, and their right to service whom they will in the free market it preserved. No one is hurt and everyone gets what they want.
How does this all connect together? Gays marriage is a thing and they will be getting married, regardless of our beliefs on the issue. It is only a matter of time before all 50 states by their own laws or decisions of the federal courts must allow for equal access to marriage for those of the same gender. Nothing short of a constitutional amendment will change that, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. With that trend in mind, we must protect the religious rights of those who don’t agree with gay marriage. They must be allowed to honor their deeply held beliefs and not forced into doing anything personally or professionally to compromise them. Lastly, the free market of ideas and of the economy will rule as it always does to bring balance back to the marketplace. Gays will still be able to get cakes, invitations, photographers, videographers, tuxedos, dresses, and all the accouterments involved in weddings regardless of a person’s religious beliefs on gay marriage. This will happen because some shrewd business person will open up a business to service them because he/she know they will get business and be able to make money doing it. The free market is already at work within Indiana with this law being passed. Companies are pulling out and people are actively protesting and boycotting the state. This is forcing the state to react to this law. The free market does work and we need to let it work.
A couple of sidebars related to the article above, but not exactly part of the content itself. One of them is absolutely hilarious so please read to the end if you want a good laugh.
Side Bar #1: Many of the businesses sued by homosexual couples for refusing to give them service for their wedding had already been serviced by these businesses in the past. These businesses just choose to discriminate when it came to their participation in a wedding that went counter to their religious beliefs. So they are not discriminating against homosexuals in and of themselves, but against being involved in a ceremony that violates their religious beliefs.
Side Bar #2: Some may ask, what about the laws Congress passed to end segregation in public accommodations in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement? Would those apply to this case? Well, one could argue that these laws were a violation of free market principles, and it was, but Congress had the authority to so such things because its authority to regulate interstate commerce. These public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, bus terminals, etc.) operated under the clear premise of interstate commerce. Therefore Congress had the authority to regulate them. The same argument could be made in the cases of the Indiana law. Very few businesses today operate only at an intrastate level. I am betting bakeries, chapels and other wedding businesses, while they do operate solely in the state, they engage in interstate commerce when they buy the supplies they need to operate their business. So Congress could possibly regulate this, but it would still violate the religious liberty of the individuals who run the business.
Side Bar #3: The husband of former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was the first victim of this law. He was dress shopping for her in Indianapolis when they visited this weekend in support of the law. The lady who owned the dress store exercised her right to deny his service because she thought he was gay. HA! I am not saying he is gay, but it is a sweet irony that situation makes me laugh out loud.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Class dismissed!
Linsley, Brennan. Jack Phillips. Digital image. USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC, 1 June 2017. Web. 14 June 2017. (Featured Image)