I wrote a letter to the NY Times in reply to Gail Collins' piece on Arizona. It was published but, of course, even though the point of the letter was to ask for an explanation, there were no replies.

Here's the letter:

"On the political spectrum I'd align most closely with Elizabeth Warren. I say this because I feel like I'm not supposed to have such thoughts as these. I would like someone to explain how the law is supposed to deal with someone [in the private sector] who refuses to serve ANYONE for ANY reason. Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi" was hilarious but fictional. I don't care HOW good his soup is, he'd be out of business in a flash.

"discrimination is bad for business"

Obviously if any public funds were at stake, use the ton-of-bricks provisions. But firstly, how does the government force a private business to provide goods/services to a particular party. Secondly, shouldn't "the market" decide what gets provided and what gets consumed?" [...and by whom?]

No reply.

To expand a little, say a wedding cake baker is stupid enough to decide that he will not provide a cake with two tuxedoed guy figures on top. Is the government supposed to MAKE him bake such a cake. I can tell you I'm one person who would refuse to eat cake baked under those circumstances.

I believe there is a political point to be made here. I'm just surprised that it's ME making it.

Discrimination is wrong.

Discrimination is stupid.

But don't people have a right to be wrong and stupid? To my understanding the government only gets involved when government/public interests/money are involved - like MAKING a school accept a black student. 

Help!

Tags: Discrimination, law

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But if it is a bakery shop open to the public, don't they have to serve the public? Back in the civil rights days the government was able to force restaurants ( and presumably bakeries) to serve people of color. And not make them sit in a different part of the establishment.

No, they don't under current law, unless they are denying service to someone based on race, gender, or age. Sexual orientation is currently not a protected class under the law. Surely you've seen the "No shirt. No shoes. No service." signs. That was no bullshit.

Thanks so much. I'm still confused on how this all hangs together, but I have the feeling I'll understand more after going through your sources (and subsequent links.)

I meant to mention the fed/state/county/city hierarchy, but your post is a couple dozen times more informative than mine would have been. Nice work!

Of course it's not about their "religious freedom" ...but rather their freedom to discriminate and have that behaviour excused under the veil of the religious defense. 

I wonder if BDSM is a recognized sexual orientation, and if not why not?

I have run into a few folks with this 'interest', but they are not very forthcoming. It has made for interesting 'side panel' conversations, but nothing I would have interest in. I expect if you do not have an adult shop, or are not the social gad-fly, you will never find out. They have been, for me, 'TMI' moments...;p(...

I feel hurt that anyone would bring up bestiality while discussing gay rights.

Sorry, good point. I thought I was making fun of scripture, but it didn't come out right. I'll delete the comment later, unless you object (because it'll also delete your response).

(Hmm, I guess deleting my post didn't also delete yours.)

But don't people have a right to be wrong and stupid? To my understanding the government only gets involved when government/public interests/money are involved - like MAKING a school accept a black student. 

Businesses have a well-established right to refuse to do business with anyone, unless it's a protected class (e.g., race, gender, age). At this time LGBT is NOT a protected class. Perhaps passing such a law would be a solution, though at this time it's hard to see it getting through a GOP dominated House (and posibly Senate after the next round of elections). 

Anyway, there's a certain symmetry in the current situation in that the gay couple can take their business to a friendlier baker, thus depriving this baker of his profits. Gays (et al) can  create a directory or list of unfriendly businesses and their suppliers and simply not do busness with them. That will get the attention of those businesses. 

Anyway, it goes both ways. As it is, a gay bakery could limit itself to ONLY doing cakes for their community. Would we want to change that?

Should the KKK be able to force a black restaurant to cater their next barbecue?

I think a lot of people haven't thought this all the way through, including unintended consequences.

Thanks, Unseen. Where are these "protected classes" defined?

@Ed "Should a business owner be allowed to discriminate ..."

Should a restaurant be allowed to serve inedible swill and call it soup. I say, "Hell No!" But do I want the government to control this?

@Unseen "Should the KKK be able to force a black restaurant to cater their next barbecue?"

The way I read you, the KKK does seem able to force this (race is a protected class). My question is, "How?" Likewise is the black restaurant able to force the KKK? Or are only for-profit businesses affected?

@Ed "...it is wrong."

You're talking morals (belief) - I'm talking law. They don't always correspond. 

@Unseen "I think a lot of people haven't thought this all the way through, including unintended consequences."

That's certainly my feeling, but this whole discrimination thing HAS to have been thought through in far greater detail than I can see. Hence my questions.

Am I wrong in my understanding that this is controlled by delineating public vs private? Can a business refuse to deal with someone without ever even revealing their reasons? If so are protected classes the only exception? Taking it a step further, can it be that a business can refuse to do business with anyone they choose UNLESS they happen to be members of a protected class??

The more I think about this, the confuseder I get.

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