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. 


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.

Sexual orientation is currently not a protected class under the law.

Not federally, but sexual orientation is a protected class in 31 states and in the nation's capital as of 2012.

These are Alaska, Arizona (hence the need for a stupid law to exempt religious bigotry), California, Colorado, Connect, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illionois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

The protections may be subdivided into 'Weak', 'Good' and 'Strong' depending on the state and the level of protection afforded.

(Source: List is on p.6. State-by-state laws and details starting on p. 22)

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.)

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.)

Just to make it even more confusing:

The source document I posted above makes no distinction between state laws and local laws in listing 31 states that make LGBT people a protected class.

Local laws refer to cities or towns within a state, which may declare LGBT people to be protected classes against discrimination. For instance, the City of Tempe, Arizona just passed a city ordinance to this effect.

The US is a federalist system of government. Policy can be made by governments at the federal level, state level and local level. The higher level policy supersedes.

For instance, if the new pro-bigotry state law in Arizona had passed, the anti-bigotry local law in Tempe would be void. But if the US federal government passed an anti-bigotry federal law, then Arizona's pro-bigotry state law would be void.

In Summary: Are LGBT people a protected class in the US?*
Federal (the US government): No.
State (50 governments in total): Yes, in 21 of them.
Local (governments of thousands of cities, towns, etc.): Yes, in 11 more states.

*Some of the data is 2 years old. Given the amazing reforms of recent years, there may actually be more places where LGBT people are protected by now.

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!

For added perspective, consider the strange case of 'Sweet Cakes by Melissa' and "Fleur Cakes" in Oregon. The cake shops refused to serve a lesbian couple, citing devout Christian beliefs, with one telling the couple they are "abominations to the Lord”.

There was no word on how the cake shops stand on other Biblical abominations (like eating lobster). However, five reporters called the two bakeries anonymously to get price quotes for other occasions frowned upon by the Bible and many Christians. The bakeries were willing to provide cakes for divorces, unmarried parents, stem-cell research, non-kosher barbecues and pagan solstice parties.

I don't buy the sales pitch that the Arizona law and others like it are about religious freedom. Not when the Bible doesn't mean anything it says, except for what the bigot means.

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).


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