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Anti-discrimination laws and religious freedom
There is an interesting post and discussion over at Hoosier Review regarding a business in Seattle that violated a local non-discrimination ordinance by refusing to print invitations for a homosexual "wedding". The Seattle law should, if challenged in federal courts, be ruled unconstitutional under the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom and the Fourteenth Amendment's application of that law to the states.
Greg Travis said that businesses enjoy some measures of protection by the state (such as registration of corporations by the Secretary of State's office) and should therefore not expect to avoid government regulations of their activity. I think that is a wrong-headed approach, and could justify virtually any government interference in private affairs.
These laws were created to make it easier to operate in the market, not an excuse to add more government intervention. The question should be whether a business is doing direct harm on someone else. So long as they are not doing direct harm, businesses should be free to serve, or not serve, who they wish.
A key component of this case is the fact that the business owner was being asked to print invitations for a homosexual "wedding". A Christian who believes homosexuality is in violation of God's commands may be perfectly fine doing business with a homosexual customer in a morally neutral way. For example, selling a hammer or an automobile to someone does not have any relation to that person's lifestyle. But the Seattle business owner was being asked to participate in an activity (the joining in marriage of a same-sex couple) that he finds morally offensive.
As an aside, I wrote a column on discrimination laws last year.
Update: May 22, 2004
I posted the following at Hoosier Review:
And your anti-corporate bias is showing. You've been posting the same "corporations are creations of the state" line for years dating back to the old H-T message boards prior to Hoosier Talk. The fact remains, though, that corporations are made up of and run by individuals, whose rights are protected under the Constitution. There is no justification for the government to force a Christian business owner to print invitations for a homosexual "marriage", or for a vegan business owner to print invitations to a hog roast, etc.