Kansas doesn’t discriminate

Kansas doesn’t discriminate
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Where I live — and I’m sure where you live, too — stores and restaurants have this trite habit of posting little rainbow stickers on their doors to indicate that they are, in fact, gay-friendly places of business. I say “trite” because the whole tradition has always seemed so pointlessly showy and self-righteous. Obviously, in this day and age, no sensible shopkeeper actually cares if his customers are gay or not — all he’s interested in is whether they buy something or not. In fact, I’d very much guess that was the case in more intolerant days and ages, too. Commerce has always been the great equalizer.

Once in a great while, however, you do hear exceptions. There was a case in Canada a few years ago wherein a lesbian wanted to get her traditional boyish haircut at some Muslim-run barbershop, only to have the Muslims say no. A few years before that, a Christian-owned waterfront pavilion in New Jersey denied a same-sex couple the right to hold a civil union ceremony on their property. And last summer, a Christian baker in Colorado made headlines after he refused to make a wedding cake for a pair of gay fiancées. In all three cases the offended homosexuals ended up suing for discrimination; in all three cases freedom of religion was the defense of the shop owners. And in the Colorado and Jersey cases, at least, judges ultimately ruled that victimization of gays was a worse offence than infringing the free exercise of religion (the Canadian case was settled out of court).

These are obviously weird and isolated case studies of oddly dogmatic businessmen, but some conservatives nevertheless hear frightening rumbles of a fundamentally shifting legal landscape from stories like these. Specifically, they see signs that the ability of religious Americans to make business decisions inspired by their faith — namely, decisions about who to do or not do business with — in danger of vanishing forever under a new order that makes the all-costs prevention of homosexual hurt feelings society’s highest priority.

Get enough people with these sorts of fears elected to public office, and you wind up with legislation of the sort the Republican-controlled Kansas legislature passed last week, a bill that supporters claim is a mild effort to shore up the rights of the religious but critics claim signals the ominous beginning of outright gay segregation.

Branded “an act concerning religious freedoms with respect to marriage,” Bill-2453 declares that “no individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender,” with “the following” including providing “any services,” offering any “employment or employment benefits,” and, of course, solemnizing or celebrating any “marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement.”

The bill is not long, but written in quite dense legalese. If given to a stranger without context, it would probably not be obvious what its purpose or motive was. It does not contain the word “gay” or “homosexual,” and only makes a single reference near the end to “same-gender unions or relationships.” Ostensibly, the bill is all about preventing the state government from forcing individuals and religious entities into doing things that violate their beliefs “regarding sex or gender,” while also giving those same parties a statute to cite in their defense should they ever be formally prosecuted for said denials.

It’s not hard to imagine the wording of a much more to-the-point law. Say, “all individuals in Kansas have a right to freely discriminate against homosexual persons as they see fit.” But that, of course, would come off as mean and nasty, and even the state’s very conservative governor, Sam Brownback, says he wants “every human life to be treated with respect and dignity” — even the gay ones. So instead a more convoluted conceit is offered up, in which all anyone’s actually concerned about is the right of religious folk to not be prosecuted by the government for their beliefs. And what decent person could be against that?

The question as to whether or not a constitutional right to discrimination exists, or whether it’s a violation of the 14th amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection” for all citizens remains very much contested. Rand Paul got in hot water a while back for saying that he felt the 1964 Civil Rights Act went too far in giving government the tools to punish private businessmen for their “boorish behavior” — in this case, racially-segregated lunch counters and the like — while his critics, including President Obama’s press secretary, claimed such a debate was “settled a long time ago” and the conversation “shouldn’t have a place in our political dialogue” anymore.

It’s also possible, however, to have a position somewhere in the middle; one recognizing that not all discrimination is created equal, and that while some forms are unjustified, and may deserve legal reprimand, others may be understandable — sane, even — given certain contexts. Here I’m thinking of a guy in my own city who idiotically sued a women’s only gym for gender discrimination a while ago, or the Sikh fellow in Toronto who filed suit after he wasn’t allowed to play in a go-kart park because his religion forbids the wearing of helmets.

For what it’s worth, I find most modern gay-discrimination lawsuits over petty things like wedding cakes and haircuts spoiled and grating — the very epitome of first world problems — not to mention a historically ignorant exaggeration of what true bigotry even is. Better judges would have dismissed them as frivolous.

Yet at the same time, legislation like Kansas’ seems very much an overzealous, heavily political solution in search of a problem. Theirs is a promise to turn gay discrimination into an absolute, incontestable right, as opposed to a heavily conditional one whose free exercise is only occasionally justifiable in a few very specifically religiously-inspired contexts.

But who ultimately gets to draw the line between acts of justified and unjustified discrimination? Certainly not politicians in our modern era of identity-politics. Be they on the right or left, a lawmaker’s first impulse will always be to strengthen legal protections for the biases of whoever elected them — in the case of Kansas Republicans, evangelical Christians — and weaken those of those who didn’t.

No, the fairest fix to questions of competing rights is as it’s always been — a broad constitutional guarantee of equality of all citizens, with alleged violations weighed on a case-by-case basis by a pragmatic and independent judiciary.

The fact that this status quo is often flawed in practice doesn’t deny that it’s still the best solution we’ve yet devised.




^ 48 Comments...

  1. Colin Minich

    Romer v. Evans.

    That case alone is going to be the reason why the Supreme Court is going to shoot this down and Kansas's legislature will go down burning.

  2. Thornus

    Romer v. Evans was decided under a rational basis scrutiny level; it is incredibly rare (Romer may be the only one I can think of) for a statute to be shot down because it failed rational basis. In Romer, the Colorado amendment specifically banned the state from enacting any kind of protections for gays and lesbians.

    Kansas' law is a bit different in that it doesn't prevent the Kansas legislature from passing laws protecting gays and lesbians. It's couched in a different constitutional guarantee, the 1st Amendment, so it probably passes rational basis. Whether it passes intermediate or strict scrutiny, I do not know. It should pass the standard adopted by the Court in Romer though.

  3. Colin Minich

    The thing is that Romer v. Evans was decided in 1996. It's been 18 years since.

    It was given rational basis review because homosexuals weren't quite in the strict scrutiny that gender, race, and IIRC age fall under. Because of cases now like United States v. Windsor and the fall of DOMA, we're seeing that homosexuality as a category is edging closer and closer to the strict or intermediate scrutiny and that's why I truly believe within 2-5 years this Kansas measure is going to be shot down.

  4. Thornus

    I agree that the Kansas statute will likely be shot down. Probably another 5-4 decision too. I just don't think Romer was a good case to cite there. I think Windsor was decided under an Heightened Scrutiny standard (which is a little different from Intermediate? So confusing), so we'll likely see that applied to Kansas' law.

    Speaking of which, is the Kansas law actually law? Everyone calls it that, but all I can find is that the Kansas House passed the bill. I'm not seeing anything about the Kansas Senate passing it or the Kansas governor signing it into law.

  5. JJ McCullough

    I enjoyed this summary of the constitutionality of the law from Fox's Judge Andrew Napolitano. He got into Romer and some of the other precedents, and has a good summary of the origins of America's constitutionally guaranteed freedom from arbitrary discrimination, as well as what "freedom of religion" actually means, as understood by the Supreme Court.
    http://radio.foxnews.com/2014/02/24/judge-napolit

  6. MaybeAnIdiot

    A similar law was just passed today by the Arizona legislature as well. It is awaiting the governor's signature.

  7. Colin Minich

    And that too is going to be ultimately destroyed by the Supreme Court thanks to the decisions of Romer v. Evans and United States v. Windsor.

  8. Bill Stephens

    Arizona's law seems to be even broader. It allows discrimination based on race, too.

  9. Rachael

    "Obviously, in this day and age, no sensible shopkeeper actually cares if his customers are gay or not"

    Lots of non-sensible people in the world. Putting a rainbow sticker up indicates you're not one of them, at least on this issue.

  10. Colin Minich

    You'd be flabbergasted at some of the "logical" explanations of said people who actually segregate…

  11. @Cristiona

    That being said, there aren't many stories of grocery stores or restaurants refusing homosexuals. The two U.S. cases listed involve marriage, not day to day life. Also, in the case of the cake (and another case involving photography) it could be argued that these were cases where people were seeking to compel art.

    Much like I wouldn't want a homophobe performing a wedding service, I don't really think I'd want to eat a cake baked by one, or have one responsible for the documentation of my wedding.

    Hell, why would I even want to give them my money? I'm sure there's more than one baker in Colorado.

  12. Nathan

    Don't you see? In this way the couple GETS money, instead of shelling out for a photographer. Maybe more than what their photographer cost!

    Yeah, I don't get it… why not just publicize the name of the photographer and let others boycott him? That would seem to be just punishment, and in keeping with our beloved "free" market. Why sully your wedding memory by dragging out a law-suit? It seems like a lot of trouble… maybe their lawyer saw easy money, now he's got to argue before the Supreme Court.

  13. Dryhad

    Well these are the cases we know about. Presumably there are plenty involving people who didn't want to go through the trouble of a lawsuit for such an issue. However, given that the people we hear about are the ones who went to court, it might suggest that that _is_ the best way to publicise the offending bigot so that others may boycott him.

  14. Jake_Ackers

    Rand Paul said that about racist owning restaurants. It really is the easiest way to fight discrimination. However, there is the public safety exception. Don't want a race fight or w/e else kind of fight happening in a public establishment because the owner refuses service.

    Moreover, anti-gay marriage bakeries should just do what erotic bakeries do make it a niche bakery. Name your store after something like: John's Faithful Photography or Jane's Religious Bakery. etc. etc.Or even racist biker gang restaurants. Freedom to assembly overrides any of the clauses in the Civil Rights Act and any new legislation protecting any group.

  15. Ricardo Bortolon

    Thankfully the Human Rights Tribunal strongly ruled in favour of the women's-only gym.

  16. john doe

    I guess a mire comment in one context of the full committal and agreement if offered by the proprietor to allow after signing away the fact if he cracks his head open they would not be liable, thus allowing in a simple instances such being in neither's contentions.

  17. Jake_Ackers

    Kansas although well intended, its going about it the wrong way. You don't really need a law to clear this up. Photography is freedom of speech. You cannot force someone to say something or produce something. It's easy to get around it. Cakes can be considered art. Art is freedom of speech. But there is a way around it.

    Anti-gay marriage bakeries should just do what erotic bakeries do make it a niche bakery. Name your store after something like: John's Faithful Photography or Jane's Religious Bakery. etc. etc.

    It's funny though. A gay photographer would never photograph a forced or arranged marriage isn't that discrimination against Hindus and Muslims? What about underage marriages? What about two people having sex? You can't force someone to photograph what they don't want.

    Rand Paul doesn't realize there is a way around it. Biker gangs do it all the time. You have to be a member of the racist biker gang to eat at the restaurant. Freedom to assembly gets around it. Problem solved. At least under Rand Paul's idea, you can clearly see in the light of day the racist restaurants as opposed to having them spit in your food.

  18. Larry

    You are making some false equivalences here.

    > A gay photographer would never photograph a forced or arranged marriage isn't that discrimination against Hindus and Muslims? What about underage marriages?
    Prohibition of forced or underage marriages is not considered religious discrimination in any Western legal system. Of course, if you assume without evidence that the marriage you are photographing is forced, based on your clients' religion, you are discriminating.

    > What about two people having sex?
    No discrimination at all here. It is discrimination if you offer a service to the public but deny it to a subgroup.

  19. Virgil

    I think it would be more accurate to say that prohibition of forced or underage marriages is considered a form of discrimination for which there is a rational basis as found by the courts

  20. Jake_Ackers

    What about arranged marriages? Still would be discriminating.

    Your last point makes sense though. ty.

  21. gattsuru

    Theirs is a promise to turn gay discrimination into an absolute, incontestable right, as opposed to a heavily conditional one whose free exercise is only occasionally justifiable in a few very specifically religiously-inspired contexts.

    Much of the convoluted worded in this particular bill specifically exists to limit the application to a few very specifically religious-inspired contexts. Much of this is tied around legal terms like "sincerely held religious belief". Shops in general would not be allowed to discriminate: WalMart would not be covered by the bill, for example, and an employee /at/ WalMart would both be very hard-pressed to use the statute, and have WalMart required by the statute to bring a different employee in.

    It's a bad bill, obviously, but I'd warn against following non-expert descriptions of what a proposed law would do.

  22. Guest

    "Better judges would have dismissed them as frivolous."
    Except that to do so would mean either
    a) accepting that any institution is entitled to discriminate, in which case it is possible and legal to have whole towns in effect ban gay people if enough businesses decide they've got religious convictions that prohibit them serving gay people (what if the only bank or supermarket in walking distance won't have you?) or b) expressing a legal test to determine what sorts of denials of service qualify as substantial enough that they are legally actionable, which would be far more farcical in practice.

    Freedom in the US is supposed to be defended by law in the first instance not by ethical consumerism which some liberals are suggesting as an alternative. And in fact, if the Kansas law isn't struck out it might then be found illegal for public (and possibly also private) institutions to refuse to use the services of business on the grounds that they've got a homophobia policy.

    There are already certain contexts where discrimination is considered justified in law. It has nothing to do with the 'frivolity' of the case and everything to do with whether there is a valid reason why the effects of treating people fairly would be dangerous or detrimental – and whether the discriminator has exhausted other reasonable avenues to mitigate the problem. There are defenses that are permissible and defenses which are not. Religious belief is only usually a justification in narrower circumstances such as appointment of religious officials.

  23. Trenacker

    These kinds of laws are merely a front for the worst kind of mean-spirited bigotry.

    I understand that there is a segment of the population — quite a large segment, in fact — that believes strongly that their right to religious freedom is about to be legislated out of existence.

    I do not disagree with them. I think that whenever you have a pluralistic society that is ostensibly committed to secular government and the freedom of conscience alongside equality, those who wish to compel certain behavior will always feel left out in the cold. So, too, those who allege that they have found "the right way for you as well as for me," which, I think, is what certain folks purport to have found in Christianity (and other religions as well, of course).

    The irony is that, from a theological perspective, I am often told that homosexuality is no different a sin before the eyes of the Lord than, say, gluttony. Yet you hear nothing about business owners turning away people who are obese.

    I also hear a good number of people take the position that lawsuits against unwilling business owners are really a means by which gay people try to force social acceptance of their lifestyle as the price of membership in polite society. I am often asked the question, "Why did they need to have a cake from that baker?" or, "Why would you go to a store that didn't want to serve you?" The answer, in their minds, is always that it is to force those persons into explicit endorsement of gay rights. I don't know how to address this issue since I can't see into the minds of all parties, although my feeling is that government endorsement of selective service would be a terribly slippery slope.

    Really, the enthusiasm for discrimination against homosexuals seems to arise from three sources. The first of these is the camp that has latched onto homosexuality and homosexual rights as the issue on which the cultural war between fundamentalist Christians and secularists must play out. LGBT individuals are merely the incidental casualties of a larger war. The second of these are the folks who personally believe that homosexuality is especially repugnant and are eager to take refuge in what may be the last "socially acceptable," or at least defensible, prejudice. The third source are political elites who see the opportunity to make hay from these issues. That is a result less of social consensus than the outsized influence of a very small, highly-motivated core of issues voters who dominate political primaries and therefore punch far above their weight in terms of influence over legislation.

  24. KKoro

    Not that I agree with homophobia, but in regards to this:

    "The irony is that, from a theological perspective, I am often told that homosexuality is no different a sin before the eyes of the Lord than, say, gluttony. Yet you hear nothing about business owners turning away people who are obese. "

    You [i]absolutely[/i] do hear these stories, it's just…well, fat people in these situations are taught that there's nothing respectable about their condition, that they are failures as people, so they don't try to press for unfair discrimination. It's a lot like why you don't hear people suing for false advertising on penis enlargement pills or incorrect charges from porn companies…even if you win, it's just another reason for people to make fun of you for being different.

  25. Trenacker

    I've never heard any such stories. While I appreciate that it does happen, and acknowledge the credibility of your argument as to why such cases would be discussed even less than those in which gay people are denied service, I'm also unaware of a general movement to refuse service to known divorcees, known philanderers, and other individuals who are obviously guilty of sin that is not homosexuality. It is evident that homosexuality is an especially significant issue for a small but vocal and very influential segment of the Christian Right.

  26. KKoro

    Not sure what you're getting at here.

    This movement is in response to specific shopowners, in lawsuits, being told they were not allowed to discriminate against homosexuals, after kicking the homosexuals out of their shops and being sued.

    As I pointed out, you wouldn't see a similar movement from "fatties" because America (well, the world) is still so gleefully shaming of them that which of them is going to sue the shopowner in the first place?

    In all honest, if you've never heard such stories then you should just open your eyes — like slut-shaming, fat-shaming is a very obvious, visible part of our society that most people take for granted. If you want specific anecdotes, then notalwaysworking.com should serve you well.

  27. Jake_Ackers

    Well like I said there is a way around it. Anti-gay marriage bakeries should just do what erotic bakeries do make it a niche bakery. Name your store after something like: John's Faithful Photography or Jane's Religious Bakery. etc. etc. Problem solved really.

    I think most people are neutral towards gays. In the sense as long as they aren't in your face about it, marching wearing almost nothing in a gay pride parade or w/e else, most people are okay with gay people. No body likes the stereotypical "guido".

    Was everyone really a racist back in the Civil Rights Movement? No. Plenty of people WOULDN'T lynch but not many people would protest on behalf of blacks either. The roadblock is not the "silent majority". It's the loud few on both sides. The samething applies now to gays.

  28. Brandon

    Personally, I believe that it isn't really the government's place to enforce "getting along nicely" in any fashion. Especially when that protection isn't truly equal, or in reality just flips the scales the opposite direction (Heres looking at you affirmative action, and every minority specific grants, loan, organization ever).

    In the public sector, where EVERYONE is putting money into the pot, that is where the anti-discrimination laws should come into play. If a black/gay/white/martian shopkeeper wants to discriminate, and isn't receiving some form of government subsidy (loans, grants, whatever), I believe that real freedom would let them run that business however they want. Let market forces decide the consequences for discrimination, not a heavy handed force from the government that forces people to do what they don't want to do.

    I really don't think allowing store owners the ability to refuse service to whomever they please is going to open up some sort of floodgate of discrimination anyways. I'd argue that the majority of the country is at the very least, tolerant of the "other" to the extent that they can interact and coexist with whatever that encompasses. I couldn't care less what a person's skin color is, or what they are doing in the privacy of their own home, or who gets married to who, I'm just tired of what really feels like government sanctioned discrimination of the stereotypical white christian male.

  29. KKoro

    "I really don't think allowing store owners the ability to refuse service to whomever they please is going to open up some sort of floodgate of discrimination anyways."

    The fact that people thought it was important enough to make a law for this, rather than just relying on lawsuits for individual cases should be clue that this isn't true. There are a [i]ton[/i] of stories of discrimination along religious/racial/size/age/sexuality/gender based lines, and a ton of evidence on how this still-very-institutionalized discrimination f's up society.

    If you ever, for a second, feel like business owners can be trusted to not be asshats without legal restrictions on discrimination, try reading notalwaysworking.com.

  30. Trenacker

    As a non-Christian, I find complaints about discrimination against Christians bizarre. In what way are Christians being subjected to systematic discrimination?

    I find it hard to manifest much sympathy for opponents of Affirmative Action. While it is the case that Affirmative Action sometimes results in unqualified people getting the job, I wonder what better ways there are to rectify persistent structural defects in our socio-economic fabric. Affirmative Action isn't intended as compensation; it is intended as equalizer. The idea is that, without it, existing economic and social hierarchies would prove essentially static. I'm not wedded to Affirmative Action in its current form, and I think that there ought to be a good deal more oversight of the entire system, which is often abused and misunderstood (to the extent that many of the resulting contracts appear to be let on political grounds alone), I'm not convinced that we can simply let the chips fall where they may and proceed on the basis.

  31. Brandon

    I'm not a christian either (or any religious denomination for that matter), I used it as an example of a "majority"(Granted Catholics/Christians may not make up a majority of practicing people in America at this point, I would have to go look that one up), that doesn't have the same protections that a minority might. When one group is given a benefit on a systematic basis, but the other is not, I'd argue that is a pretty good definition of discrimination, just as much as if one group received a drawback on a systematic basis.

    My problem with affirmative action isn't that there is an active effort to find qualified minorities to fill a position(including encouragement to apply, as well as helping navigate the red tape to get their application into the pile), my problem is when the actual decision process is anything but blind to whether the applicant is a minority. When you choose one candidate because he is black (or any other minority qualifier), the ONLY difference in comparison to a white supremacist denying the black candidate because he is black, is the motivation behind the action. The result remains the same, a white (or black) candidate was denied based on a trait that hey had no control over. I personally don't like the idea of ANYONE being discriminated against, but I'm especially displeased by one way streets.

    Some white male applying for college had NOTHING to do with the perceived "persistent structural defects" in our society, and it certainly isn't just to punish him for something his forefathers theoretically had some hand in (I'm not really a fan of the suggestion that minorities are somehow incapable of bootstrapping themselves to success. I might even go as far to say that it's racist to presume a black man can't succeed without affirmative action or some other stacking of the deck in their favor.

  32. Jake_Ackers

    On your last point; it's even more unfair if you are a first generation white American. Or first generation American who is actually mixed. Your relatives had nothing to do with slavery or segregation, if anything they might have been discriminated themselves, and you get treated as if you come from a long line of "crackers."

  33. Trenacker

    Affirmative Action is premised on the assumption, correct or incorrect, that white males enjoy certain implicit advantages in social interaction throughout their lives as a consequence of our nation's history.

    It is possible that Affirmative Action is not succeeding in bringing about lasting structural change.

    Regardless of whether or not you support Affirmative Action, and quite apart, also, from the question of whether it should be continued or stopped tomorrow, I would like to pose some questions:

    First, do you agree that minorities in this country, particularly African Americans, suffer from the structural legacies of slavery and white dominion?

    If so, are you concerned that, were no action taken to "address" this issue, the results would be deleterious for society as a whole?

    I think liberals and conservatives who feel strongly one way or the other about Affirmative Action essentially part at this point in the road. Either they feel not only that the past perpetuates inequality, but that we all lose out because of it, or else they feel that the past perpetuates inequality but that there are no options superior to doing nothing.

    I will say that I think that a lot of state and federal policies result in unintentionally race-biased outcomes that, if addressed, would go a long way toward rectifying inequality without ever having to engage in "positive discrimination."

  34. Republicalifornian

    I believe it's time for Affirmative Action to give way to something better. Yes, there are still socio-economic inequalities still present in our system. But they don't divide strictly on racial lines. We should build policies based on addressing the inequalities themselves, rather than the surrogate of race. In the case of college admissions, I realize it's easier to look at a checked box for race than to pour over the essays that are written to determine who the person is. But it's also shallower. A rich black kid who attended prep school doesn't need or deserve the benefits of affirmative action, but a poor asian immigrant might.

    Further, the way affirmative action is structured now, it carries with a stigma. I have never met anyone who claims that Affirmative Action got them into college. Everyone always 'would have gotten in anyway'. If any other program benefited as few people, it would cancelled due to its inefficacy. And who would want to say that 'Yes, my scores were worse, but I got in because of my skin color?' To receive a benefit from it is to admit inferiority.

    Instead, we should develop a program to identify the best and brightest, the most deserving, among the poorest, and give them opportunities they would not have otherwise had. If the socio-economic deck is stacked against blacks or Hispanics, and they make up a disproportionate part of that population, then they should also benefit disproportionately. It would be automatically self-correcting, since, as the proportions of the poorest change, so should the proportions of the recipients. It would also be stigma-free, since receiving it would mean that you were bright but dealt a raw hand (and what teenager doesn't feel that applies to them?). It would also be a lot of work, which is why I don't see it happening any time soon.

  35. Trenacker

    I agree in general with your policy prescription. One criticism that I would imagine might be levied is that all people of color suffer from racial discrimination even if they do not suffer from other types of disadvantage, including low income. I don't think that's an especially persuasive argument, especially because a color-blind program of Affirmative Action based on need alone would still theoretically serve the general goal of reducing inequality overall.

  36. KKoro

    I think the main mistake in your claims, republicalifornian, is the assumption that those who got in because of affirmative action had worse scores. It's possible that there are students there who do not "deserve" to be there, but seeing as we're talking about a measure to combat institutionalized racism, not just a measure to "pull the lower classes up", it's much more likely that they "would have gotten in anyway" if the admissions board was operating under a racist paradigm. Affirmative action, then, is used to combat the documented phenomenon of admissions boards (or for companies, hiring staff) who would pass over applications which had "african/female/foreign/asian/etc. names".

  37. waytoomanyUIDs

    So If I am interpreting this right, If my peculiar brand of religion proclaims black people to be The Sons of Ham, and cursed by God only to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, then in Kentucky at least, thanks to this bizarre bill, I can legally refuse them service. That sounds twenty shades of insane.

  38. Jake_Ackers

    Or you go to their restaurant and have them spit in your food… My main concern is how do I found out which business truly is racist or bigoted otherwise?

  39. guest

    Surely any private business should be free to say 'I'm sorry, I'm simply not going to serve you' whenever they like.
    The problem arises when the business decides to give reasons for this decision – and thereby falls foul of discrimination laws.
    Just enshrine the right to refuse service and the right not to give reasons for doing so. Problem solved.
    If people are dumb enough to go further then that they can take their chances.

  40. Republicalifornian

    As a Christian, I feel that the truly Christian thing for these business owners to do to represent their faith would have been to provide their services to the wedding. You cannot be a light to the world by hiding your faith under a bowl. You never know what chance interaction will allow you to represent God's love to someone, and Jesus would much rather you introduce someone to Him than take a stand to isolate them.

    For the Kansas law, I haven't read it, so I reserve the right to change my position, but based on the way JJ has presented it, I feel that he is being unfair. He claims that the framer's are hiding their bigotry in dense legalese. I instead feel that this is principled. They have created a standard that will benefit all religions equally: Christian, Muslim, Atheist, etc. If a Frisbeetarian sincerely believe that participating in a heterosexual wedding is immoral, then they can decline based on this law. Rather than building in their biases, they've applied what should be a constitutionally guaranteed right equally.

    In fact, I feel that this law doesn't go far enough, and there's a much more basic principle that should be followed: Owner's of private property should be able to utilize that property however they wish that does not infringe on other owner's of private property. This means that business owners should be able to refuse service to anyone for any reason. Those who wish to make a stand based on conviction will suffer the effects of their stand. To quote JJ, the fact that this status quo is often flawed in practice doesn't mean it's not the best system we've devised.

    To show why, I'd like to take a far more extreme example: Let's say some KKK members want to hire a black photographer to shoot their wedding, which is filled with all sorts of hateful symbols and iconography. The black photographer should be well within his/her rights to refuse. There's no religion involved, and if he backed out, then they could claim that he was discriminating based on how they are expressing their cultural heritage. The only principle the photographer should need to refuse them is that he/she doesn't want to enter into a business relationship with them, so he/she will not be compelled to. He/she may experience some small drop in business from folks sympathetic to the couple, but he/she would probably only lose the people he/she wants to lose.

    This may seem crazy to some, but the question really is: who owns the business? If the business owner truly owns the business, then they should be able to have full discretion with it. Provided everyone is treated equally in the PUBLIC sphere with regard to all PUBLIC institutions, the invisible hand will take care of the rest.

    And before anyone asks, I voted no on Prop 8.

  41. Guest

    Amusing how you had to tack that bit on the end there.

  42. KKoro

    Just a small nitpick — as far as "being a light to the world", the thing the Christian business owners are protesting is being forced to, in their PoV, assist someone else in committing a sin. To them, you're saying that instead of refusing to be an accomplice in a bankheist, they should just be really friendly and charitable to their fellow thieves.

    I don't agree with their PoV, but you don't seem to grasp what their issue is at all.

  43. Colin Minich

    Who is the asshole that keeps rating everyone down?

  44. ShadowFox

    I see multiple up-voted comments.

  45. Colin Minich

    Then you're not noticing enough. Jake Ackers has +1 or +2 with any comment he immediately posts much like my +1 upon first posting. This is chronic and you should look back which is obviously trolling but annoying nonetheless.

  46. Jake_Ackers

    Ty Colin. I've noticed it too. I don't give negatives unless the person is just being a troll. The point of this website to have a intellectual debate even if we disagree. What I don't get is this. I post something pro-left and it goes negative and then something pro-right and it goes negative. But clearly is the same person. If someone gives negatives can they as least explain it.

  47. ShadowFox

    If nothing else at least J.J. is using a comment system that allows voting unlike Disqus and youtube. If a comment system only allows upvotes then they may as well not keep score at all. It's almost like giving out "Participant" ribbons. (For the record I've voted comments both ways on this site, not just up or down.)

  48. Jake_Ackers

    It's not that Shadow. It's that when a comment goes negative, it would be nice to know why it is negative. Especially since the comment why have multiple points.