The freedom of association may be the least heralded and least protected freedom among those listed in the First Amendment. Speech, worship, assembly, and press get all the love and attention. Association goes largely ignored. There’s a reason for that. Freedom of association can be ugly. It is, in essence, the freedom to exclude. It is, in essence, the freedom to discriminate. For that reason, it largely lies in shambles, eviscerated by well-intentioned anti-discrimination law. A large segment of the culture, arguably a majority, reject the freedom of association outright. They do not believe that individuals ought to have the final word regarding who they do business with.
As gay marriage has become a reality, we find ourselves in a situation where legislators must act to protect what little remains of this forsaken First Amendment freedom. Lawmakers in Georgia have moved to protect the capacity of religious adherents to abstain from participation in same-sex nuptials. Predictably, the bully class has risen up to object. From The Blaze:
The Walt Disney company strongly condemned a Peach State bill known as the Free Exercise Protection Act, or HB 757, which the state’s general assembly passed last week. In fact, if Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signs the bill, Disney says it will no longer film any projects in the state, a company spokesperson told the Huffington Post.
The legislation, if signed by Deal on or before May 3, will protect faith-based groups and their right to turn away potential customers citing religious objections.
The bill specifically protects religious leaders from having to perform weddings that violate their faith. It also protects churches, synagogues and other worship locations operated by religious organizations from being used for purposes that are contrary to their religious beliefs.
HB 757 also offers protection to faith-based organizations, ensuring that businesses and employees will not be required by ordinance to work on a Sabbath day. Additionally, faith-based companies will not be required to rent or lease property to be used for purposes that object to the organization’s established religious doctrine.
If the bill becomes law, Georgia may have to trade out its religious protections for the jobs — and tax dollars — Disney brings in.
So be it. The answer from Georgia lawmakers should be definitive and resolute. We value individual rights above Disney’s ultimatum. The beautiful thing about the freedom of association is that it’s a two-way street. If Disney doesn’t want to do business in a state where individual rights are protected, they don’t have to. See ya. Nice knowing you.