This past week, we witnessed the unseemly pandering of several Republicans to the radical homosexual lobby. Each stumbled over the other to present his credentials.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio—in a display of complete incoherence—stated on Face the Nation: “I don’t believe that your sexual preferences are a choice for a vast and enormous majority of the people… the bottom line is I believe that sexual preference is something people are born with.” Which one is it, are all people born that way, or just the ones who want to make that claim?
Rubio’s incoherent view seems to boil down to this: If you think you are born that way you are, but if you don’t think so, then you are not. Then he moved on rapidly, to affirm traditional marriage. On what basis Marco?
Rubio’s anxiety to please and fit in with the current of the times was shared by others allegedly holding to the conservative ideal. Scott Walker almost groveled to affirm that he was on the politically correct side of this issue by reporting that he had been to the wedding reception of a homosexual couple, but had never stepped into the wedding ceremony itself. If you are celebrating a gay wedding at the reception, what is so problematic about attending the wedding? What fine distinction is Walker trying to establish?
Somehow the need to fit in takes over these men, these “conservative” individuals that are leaders in our country. Texas’s Rick Perry, when he was asked if he would attend a gay wedding, anxiously stated, that he “probably would go,” and Gov. John Kasich made sure that everyone knows he will soon be attending a gay wedding.
Their unbelievable weakness reminds me of Bill Clinton’s infamous reply when asked if he had ever smoked marijuana. He dabbled with it a few times, he said, but of course he did not inhale.
Undoubtedly, these men, who have never advocated for the aims of the gay lobby, are not interested in the issue, rather, they are pandering to an immoral minority at a time when truth needs to be spoken the loudest. Are these the same men who say they wish to overturn Obamacare, secure the borders and solve the immigration problem? Will there be less contentious animus from the opposition in any of these needed reforms?
This urgency to fit in, to make sure they are not left out, is illuminating, and frankly embarrassing. Seeing them act like incoherent teenagers, reminded me of a song by Echosmith,“Like the cool kids.” Yes, I’ve heard it on the radio. “I wish that I could be like the cool kids, because all the cool kids, they seem to fit in.” Gentlemen we are not in high school anymore. Get a grip.
Ted Cruz, on the other hand, called on all pastors to preach on the importance of marriage on Sunday as we near the Supreme Court’s deliberation on this grave matter next Tuesday. Regardless of where people stand on this issue, it seems to me that leadership requires clarity and tranquility of mind, for whatever position one wishes to endorse and argue.
Perhaps these men, who are walking into a morass of ethical and moral issues, dealing with freedom of conscience, religious freedom, freedom of association, the role of the rule of law and the rest, ought to find some sound philosophers to advise them. Certainly, political consultants will not yield beneficial answers to many of the questions they are facing.
So let us take time for a little dispassionate reasoning on the matter at hand. The question of homosexuality, and its implications for men and women with homosexual tendencies, children, and society at large, is no trivial question. That we have the Supreme Court deliberating on the issue should make that evident. I have addressed some of these serious issues in my open reply to Bill O’Reilly regarding this matter.
Another distinction is critical at the outset. The radical gay lobby is good at causing false conflicts. This tiny group is well funded, but they are only a few thousand. And in some nations there are but a few dozen people engaged in its ranks. Statistically they do not even register.
It is important to make the distinction between men and women who may have homosexual tendencies and the radical gay lobby. Most men and women with homosexual tendencies lead a tranquil life, engage with others regardless of their sexual orientation and do not view their life completely consumed by their sexual orientation. The LGBTcrowd has done much to call itself a community and pretend they represent these individuals. The vast majority of men and women with homosexual tendencies have nothing to do with the radical gay lobby. They are already inserted in natural communities that love and care for them. They have friends, parents and colleagues, and like all of us, struggle along through life. I know and respect many of them. The LGBT radicals pretend to be the surrogate community, and the only place where these competent and often spiritual men and women, with homosexual tendencies can be loved and understood. But this is a ruse. Proof positive was the attack on two fashion icons and publicly professed homosexuals, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, when they dared to state that, “… the only family is the traditional one … life has a natural flow there are things that cannot be changed.”
The vast majority of homosexual men and women are glad they have parents, honor their parent’s marriage, are not anti-religious bigots and certainly are not out for blood. These are not the people physically and verbally assailing bishops, academics, entrepreneurs and other Americans in public. They are also not the people that profaned the Cathedral of Cologne in Germany by jumping on the altar during the midnight Christmas Mass naked, while shouting blasphemous slogans. These are not the radicals who simulated sexual acts with crosses on St. Peter’s square. The tiny homosexual lobby holds nothing sacred and seems quite incapable of rational argument.
So the gay lobby has now decided that not baking a cake for their weddings is some enormous crime, akin to the segregation of black people.
We can begin shedding some light on the fundamentals of this issue by considering today’s decision by an Oregon judge that a bakery should be fined $135,000 for declining to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding. The two lesbians in question filed a list of alleged physical and emotional and mental damages (over 88 injuries), suffered as a consequence of not being able to procure their wedding cake. Amongst them, “weight gain … impaired digestion … surprise … uncertainty … high blood pressure … felt mentally raped, dirty and shameful … resumption of smoking habit … uncertainty etc.” The lawyer for the defense stated, there was no, “expert testimony,” and that the state is not only pursuing the baker’s business assets but their personal livelihood.
The radical homosexual lobby in its strategy sessions and papers makes quite clear that it must always seek the opportunity to appear as victims and create emotional arguments to further its agenda. Then they lobby for laws that further their claims of “pseudo rights,” on grounds of discrimination. So nothing new here.
The gay lobby is also implying that denying, not a cake, but an “ideological cake,” will lead to disallowing homosexuals from entering restaurants and other facilities in the future.
But there is a fine distinction here, which is being ignored. The distinction is that, if a homosexual couple enters an establishment to eat, a simple transaction is taking place. The restaurant sells food and gets paid an agreed-upon price to do so. Barring other public disturbances, there is no issue here. The owner of the restaurant is not involved in the ideology, beliefs or convictions of his patrons. He is providing a service, and not being made to participate in any ideological venture. The homosexual diners are entitled to sit at the table and talk all day privately, about their agenda and desire to overturn constitutions, referendums, and the rest. The owner of the restaurant is not a participant, contributor, or involved in any way in their ideological bent. As far as the restaurant is concerned, it is doing nothing but providing a service—that is, serving food. What it need not provide, is active participation in an ideology that is not its own.
The crucial difference comes when the baker is asked to participate, not just render a service disconnected from ideological engagement. This in fact happens when the baker is forced to participate in the gay marriage event by baking a cake. If a gay couple wants a cake which reads, “gay is ok,” now they are asking the baker to participate in their ideological convictions. The baker, at this point, is not simply serving food to the hungry, a completely non-ideological free-market transaction. He is being asked to involve himself and create an ideological object, “the gay cake,” that professes an aim and way of life that he finds objectionable. This is no longer just a cake, but a political and ideological statement. There is a big difference for freedom of conscience between baking a cake and producing an “ideological cake.” Burger King, not long ago, chose to produce a “Gay Whopper,” grand. But no one should force Wendy’s to produce the same. Wendy’s produces burgers; if it wishes to produce an ideological burger, this can only be done freely by the corporation itself. They cannot be forced by the government or judges to do so. Similarly, I would object to forcing, on grounds of discrimination against believers, any effort to make a hamburger establishment produce a “faith-based whopper.”
Merely providing a service is non-active participation in the ideological mindset of a customer. Forcing entrepreneurs to create visible signs is seeking to coerce an individual or business to take ideological stands. These entrepreneurs or individuals, for moral or business reasons, have a right to refuse this ideological coercion. It matters little if they, rightly or wrongly, find an ideological transaction objectionable.
The radical gay lobby is like a teenager throwing a temper tantrum. If they do not get their way, they yell and shout, claim the whole world is persecuting them, and that their lives are being ruined on purpose. They are hated because millions of people have simultaneously contracted that mysterious, undiagnosed, and fantastical “homophobia.”
It is quite evident to see that potential objectionable customers are clearly not limited to the LGBT crowd. If a group of neo-Nazis wants a cake to commemorate the anniversary of Kristallnacht and they want the cake to read, “The Final Solution,” with a swastika under this hideous phrase, should a baker not be able to refuse them as well? What if the KKK wants a cake that reads, “White Power”? Is it so terrible to refuse that costumer? Do pro-life bakers have to create cakes that celebrate the founding of Planned Parenthood?
Imagine a baker from a former communist country. Does he not have a right to refuse to do business with a customer who wants a cake with the hammer and sickle of the Soviet Union? What if an atheist wants a cake that reads, “God is dead”? A refusal to write such a statement seems totally unproblematic; a believer or non-believer should always be free to forgo a simple free-market transaction. What if someone wants a cake that reads, “Gay is not o.k.”? Should the gay baker be able to refuse? Indeed. Can a baker refuse to bake a cake that reads, “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is great)?
I am not saying that homosexuality is akin to any of the above-listed ideologies. I am simply pointing out that objections to ideologies can be quite vast and varied. In every industry people choose whether they want to transact business with a client or not, even for more benign causes. No great reason is needed. No phobias need to be invented if an investor does not want to take my money or an accountant does not want to work for me. There is nothing extraordinary in any of this. The mark of a free-market transaction is that both client and provider are free to engage or not engage in business. It is an abuse of power to try to force private entrepreneurs to do business coercively. Libertarians and advocates of freedom should be all over these issues.
The opportunity cost in not doing business, in all these instances, is dealt to the vendor immediately by the free market. In refusing a customer’s request, the vendor forsakes the profit of the transaction. That is and should remain the decision of the vendor. This is the total and only pain that a vendor who chooses to refrain form a free-market transaction should ever receive.
We are walking on dangerous ground here.
Not opposing the state or the special interest groups, which seek to coerce free citizens to act or not act is a mistake. Laws and court decisions unchecked by so many advocates of liberty are simply feeding willingly, or by omission, the Leviathan of unlimited state power in its increasing efforts to swallow economic freedom.
Apparently the homosexual lobby chooses not to eat at Chick-Fil-A. Fine. The owners have decided that the opportunity cost was worth it to them. Should we force adherents of the radical homosexual lobby to eat at a place they find objectionable? Chick-Fil-A does not deny food to homosexuals. It simply expresses in the public square its defense of marriage.
Many people do not buy from corporations that support abortion or other policies that they find objectionable. Entrepreneurs compete, and some have expressed ideological ends publicly. These incur opportunity cost, or greater profits. No problem. It is their free choice to jump into the arena. But they must do so freely.
The loss of cultural freedom should not go unnoticed by the advocates of economic freedom. The simple reason is that the power grab of the government in the cultural sector (cultural freedom) of a democracy always has implications and carries losses in the realm of economic and political freedom. These matters are not disconnected.
In the case of the photographer, the situation is even more obvious. The photographer, who attends events to make a living, must first decide freely, before he transacts business, if he wants to even be present at an event. Is the photographer obliged to attend a strip club to create a video recording of a rowdy bachelor’s party? Is the videographer who belongs to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (PETA) obliged to film a BBQ festival? May the photographer not refuse to participate in the wedding of his former wife, if he so pleases? What if his wife is marrying another woman?
The bakery (and the photographer and the florist) are also not vital public services. There is no ius— no debt of justice—that obliges anyone to bake an “ideological cake,” let alone when the writing on the cake is objectionable to their reasoning, morality, or even religious principles as an entrepreneur.
The “homosexual cake,” is not just a cake, it is an ideological statement, and here the vendor must decide if he wants to engage or participate in an ideological statement. If the “gay couple,” wants a generic cake, by all means, it should be sold. But the wedding cake they seek is involving a free citizen and a business in making a political or ideological statement, and here the vendor must weigh questions of conscience and opportunity cost. Does the entrepreneur want to be involved in these questions?
Political statements and questions of conscience are clearly within his right to decide. He may want to protect his brand and his corporate ethos, and these considerations will come into play in his decision. He is not obliged to make a “Republican cake,” or a “Democrat cake,” either.
What should prevail here is the freedom of conscience (cultural freedom) and the protection of economic freedom to transact business with a costumer or not. All participants in a free market, both client and vendor, have the freedom of carrying out business or refusing a transaction. The opportunity cost of lost profits, is the freedom of choice necessary in the case of non-necessary services.
The issue here is that the specific kind of intellectual and ideological participation in cakes and weddings is quite different than the services a hospital, restaurant or airline performs. In these, there is no ideological participation, mostly because they are dealing with matters of the body (material transactions which do not involve values or beliefs, non-intellectual); the restaurant feeds you the same food everyone else gets, and the body is quite non-ideological. The plane moves you from one spot to the other. The hospital helps to heal you, and disease is quite non-ideological. There is no sufficient reason in these cases to refuse the service, but the provider is in no way being coerced to participate in your ideology or objectionable activities (from their point of view). A fire is a fire to a fireman. There are no gay fires or heterosexual fires, just flames. Clearly, providing electricity and water supply to a citizen is necessary and does not involve anything but a material transaction.
The difference is that, in the case of the baker, the photographer, and the rest, they are being coerced to actively participate in an action that they find intellectually objectionable. Simply providing a service is quite different from making someone participate unwillingly in my activities, ideology, or aims. That participation requires, in the controverted cases previously stated, a free consent from the vendor.
This is not segregation. There is no reason to deny entry to someone into a restaurant because they are black; again, the body is non-ideological. A person of any race eating, is simply entering into the service they are providing without engaging in approval or participation in their love life, or their political or ideological aims. This is quite unproblematic.
No one licitly denies a homosexual entry into a restaurant if they are civil, as all customers should be. For, in simply providing food, the restaurant and its owner do not participate in favor or against any ideological aim. They render a service without an active participation in anything the customer may believe or ideologically seek. But the radical homosexual lobby is not satisfied with using services; its position is that people who disagree with them must nevertheless actively and coercively participate in their ideology. This is a serious reach.
Frankly, if not getting their cake is such a drama and scandal, then maybe they should not get married. Much greater difficulties in life will occur than being denied a cake by some baker. They should do what most people do when someone does not transact business with them—take their business elsewhere. There is no law banning homosexuals from getting cake in America. If there were, we would all be objecting to that.
Ironically, one should observe that it is the gay lobby and its advocates, who are banning services to many Americans today. The radical gay lobby and its political friends are intent on denying the possibility for American youngsters and adults to seek counseling or psychological attention when confused or having doubts about their gender identity. In a country where people can seek counseling and psychological help for any or no reason at all, it is astonishing that some irresponsible politicians, propelled by the radical gay lobby, are making it illegal to listen to and serve young people who may have gender identification questions or difficulties.
Since December of 2014, California, the District of Columbia and New Jersey have banned psychological therapy to transgender youth and others. Whatever happened to patient rights? Whatever happened to affording people the ability to avail themselves of services if they so choose?
In these states, and the homosexual lobby clearly wants this to be a national ban,
psychologists and counselors are forbidden by law to intervene in sexual orientation matters with transgender minors. In a nation where even dogs and cats can have specialists assist them in their behavior and difficulties, young people today are denied services, in utter disregard for patients’ rights and the desire of parents for a consultation. Who then is denying services to whom?
This loss of cultural freedom, plus the erosion of freedom of conscience and the abuse of the rule of law is something that should deeply concern our libertarian friends.
Libertarians and others are keen to observe the progressive takeover of the economy and the loss of economic freedom in our current democracies, but they often fail to object when the state, under cover of social issues, swallows up cultural freedom – dealing an equally powerful blow to economic freedom by falsely attributing to itself the power to decide with whom one transacts business.
My libertarian friends and others should not be mum on these matters. They should notice that growing losses of cultural freedom are yielding more and more losses of our economic freedom. They sit idly by while businesses get shut down for exercising their freedom to execute or reject a commercial transaction. In some cases, these entrepreneurs have their lives threatened and are savaged in the biased media until sent into hiding.
Whatever became of stating the free-market principles by which one lives and dies when economic freedom is threatened? I submit that the lack of single-mindedness by advocates of economic freedom, to protect liberty when political and cultural freedoms are involved, is playing into the hands of a rampant state that seems so intent on controlling every aspect of our lives. As many of them know, the European Union regulates even what light bulbs citizens are allowed to use—a feat not accomplished even under the Soviet regime. America now chooses to do the same and goes a step further in regulating cakes, flowers and pictures – there’s no big difference.
Men of intellect need to stop self-flagellating over these matters.
Fr. Marcel Guarnizo, is a philosopher and theologian involved in public discourse on economics, philosophy, ethics and theology.