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Against Gay Marriage? Come Out of the Closet!

A new proposal would require wedding-related businesses whose owners oppose gay marriage to wear a scarlet letter.

by
Clayton E. Cramer

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September 1, 2009 - 12:52 am
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At the start of the Nazi regime, Joseph Goebbels encouraged Germans to boycott Jewish-owned businesses. Within a short time, Nazi thugs had painted Stars of David or written “Jude” or “Juden” across Jewish-owned storefronts throughout Germany.

We look back with horror at this today.

Professor John Culhane of Widener University School of Law is proposing a new version of this: a requirement that businesses that have a religious objection to homosexuality, and that would prefer not to offer services for gay couples that want to get married, should be required to state their objection on the outside of the business:

Why not simply remind the objectors — I’d support a law spelling this out — that they have a right to clearly state that they oppose same-sex unions and would “prefer to step aside” … for religious reasons. There might even be standard, respectful language suggested (not mandated, but perhaps bulletproof), making clear that the proprietor’s objection is based on religion, not animosity.

It’s not quite as blunt as “Juden,” but the purpose is the same. Over at Volokh Conspiracy, professor Dale Carpenter of the University of Minnesota Law School speaks approvingly of professor Culhane’s proposal — and it’s not surprising. As one of the commenters explains: “I kinda like the idea about forcing them to post it if they are going to discriminate. Then all the young people like me, who are both more likely to be the ones having weddings and more likely to be supportive of gay marriage, will boycott the bigoted florists/dressmakers/bakers/etc. and they will all go out of business.”

Just like the goal in Nazi Germany: make a religious minority suffer financially until they go out of business.

I have always been of mixed feelings about anti-discrimination laws. On the one hand, I’m horrified that government is telling private businesses with whom to do business. I wouldn’t shop at a store that discriminated based on race, religion, sex, or national origin — but they have that right, because a government strong enough to prohibit such discrimination is also strong enough to require it. And that’s the reason why I am, in principle, opposed to such laws. But in practice, I have been prepared to tolerate them, at least with respect to race.

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