Even someone who ignores the day to day pap the main stream media puts out, to the extent I do, can't have missed the to-do over Arizona's attempt to pass a law preventing forced labor. As I understand it, the intent of the proposed law was that if someone, such as a florist or a wedding cake maker, disagreed with gay marriage on religious grounds, then they didn’t have to provide their services to a gay couple at their wedding. So far as I know, there was nothing in it about refusing to sell flowers or cakes to gay people, solely because they were gay, who wandered into their shops for point of purchase transactions.
Something I want to mention about all of this is that I always thought businesses had the right to refuse service to anybody, as long as that refusal wasn't based on the customer's race or religion. While I'm sure I'm behind the times and there are a gazillion or so new regulations concerning what is, and isn't, discrimination, I grew up in a world where a lot of businesses had (and a lot still do), signs stating that "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone". Naturally, you tend to find these signs at businesses providing goods and/or services to the general public on a walk-in basis. Anytime I notice a business that has put up one of these signs for the first time, or went to an effort to make an existing sign more visible, I figure that business just ran into somebody who reminded them that not everybody is pleasant to deal with. Imagine the relief of a business owner who has finally convinced the Wicked Witch of the West (or Barbara Boxer, whichever you think is worse) to mount her broom and go away, when they realize that this is the United States, and by golly, they don't have to work with, or for, that customer again. Well, at least that's how it used to be.
At the start of this column I referred to what the Arizona legislature tried to pass as a law against forced labor. While technically it was Senate Bill 1062, or I guess you could call it an "anti-gay" bill like CNN did, I personally thought it was just a reinforcement of the long standing right to refuse service that businesses have always claimed. So if I get this right, at least in Arizona (but undoubtedly soon coming to a state you live in), if a florist or baker doesn't want to offer their services at a gay wedding, they can no longer refuse without being subject to legal prosecution; probably both civil and criminal. Did you know that one of the definitions of coercion is: The practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats? I used to think that as far as weddings went all a florist or baker would have to worry about would be running into the occasional "bridezilla" (where a "We reserve the right to refuse service" sign would come in very handy indeed). Now they're going to have to worry about making sure that they never, ever, displease one or both of a gay couple, who they now have to work for, in any respect whatsoever. After all, unlike a straight bridezilla, both halves of a gay couple now have the option of claiming discrimination and hauling a poor vendor into court to sue them within an inch of their lives and/or have them criminally prosecuted.
Before I go on, there is one facet of this that I really wonder about. Why in the world would a gay couple want somebody working on any part of their wedding who doesn't want to be there in the first place? I don't know about you, but I kind of make a habit of not hiring people who don't want to work for me. That "We reserve the right to refuse service" normally works both ways. If somebody doesn't want to serve me, then by golly I don't want their service or product. Personally, if a cake maker was coerced into working for me against their will, I would have real reservations about biting into anything coming out of their kitchen. Who knows what "extra" ingredients may have made their way into a cake produced by forced labor. Years ago I worked in remote locations and lived in camps. Something I learned during that time was to be very careful about antagonizing the cook. I always thought the people who couldn't understand that angering the cook might have some consequences were a little "slow".
What concerns me so much about SB 1062 in Arizona isn't what the bill said so much as the fact that it was written at all. Before now, the right to refuse service, that I mentioned repeatedly above, was pretty well understood, and used to cover whether or not people who offered commercial services had to participate in gay weddings. Now since a florist in Washington was sued for refusing to provide flowers at a gay wedding, it looks like that ship has sailed. If you spend some time really considering it, rather than just reaching a quick emotional decision, the fact that a full state legislature sees a need for a law to protect businesses from a particular class of clients is a little worrisome. While I would have preferred that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer had signed the bill into law, if I really had my druthers, the bill would never have been needed in the first place.
I don't know about you, but I'm not sure every business having to provide its goods and services to every customer who demands them, no matter whether the business wants to provide them or not, is a good idea. In fact, I'm sure it's a bad idea.
For those of you who think that forcing people to participate in ceremonies that they don't want any part of is some kind of "solution", I would remind you that the United States does have some history with forcing one class of people to serve another class of people, whether they wanted to or not. I have to say, no matter how the media and the left may be "spinning" it, I think forcing business owners to provide their services, like it or not, is a large step backward, not forward.
Bruce Kreitler is the author of Obamageddon (the Culmination of the Progressive Looting of America) and posts this and other articles at BruceKreitler.com.