On the cake case, David Brooks gets it wrong

(RNS) – I want to get this right: A baker, in violation of Colorado rules, won’t provide service to a gay couple that he provides to everybody else, and according to David Brooks, it’s the couple’s “undesirable” that they didn’t invite him to dinner?

I am quite a long time admirer of David Brooks and My spouse and i turn to him for a reasoned and well-articulated conservative perspective on public matters. However in his judgment piece about the Masterpiece Cake case before the Supreme Courtroom, “How Not to Advance Gay Matrimony,” he’s uncharacteristically naïve and gets it so, so wrong.

The gay couple should have taken the “neighborly course,” Brooks admonishes, inviting the baker to dinner within their home, letting him get to know them and giving them the chance to prove their “marital love” to him. Which begs the question: Who else in America must cook dinner for a vendor before generating the right to buy their wares?

Were Mr. Brooks denied service at a lunch time counter because he’s white, would then invite the owner to his residence for supper so that gradually, over time, the owner’s heart will be changed and white colored people like Mr. Brooks will be served after all? If that were the right approach to civil rights, African-Americans would be looking for lunch.

After Brooks rightly notes that the plaintiffs were “understandably upset” and “felt degraded,” that “Nobody loves to be refused service merely as a result of who they essentially are,” and “In a merely society people aren’t discriminated against as a result of their sexual orientation,” he turns his back on what he’s merely written. He argues Masterpiece Cake is not about discrimination predicated on “who they essentially are” but instead about the baker’s religious beliefs.

The Washington Talk about Supreme Courtroom, ruling on a similar case regarding a florist who refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding, explicitly wrote in its decision that providing flowers for a gay couple’s wedding forget about advocated for gay marriage than providing flowers for a Muslim wedding endorsed Islam or providing flowers for an atheist couple’s wedding advocated for atheism.

But the virtually all egregious assertion Brooks built is that “it’s only a cake. It’s nothing like they were becoming denied a residence or a job, or a wedding.”

Is it feasible that Mr. Brooks is normally unaware that in 29 states, you can end up being fired from a job to be gay and the worker has no protection no recourse in the courts? In those same 29 states, you can end up being evicted from an apartment just for becoming gay. And as for the right to be wedded, we should remember that in Alabama right now, someone poised to end up being elected to the United States Senate was the judge who tried his best to deny matrimony licenses to same-sex lovers.

What these cases are about is DIGNITY. Systemic, societal dignity. Yes, the marriage cake might be obtained at a bakery outside. But again, African-Americans might have been able to find lunch time at some other lunch counter outside in the ‘60s. The principle on the line is if gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people will be accorded the same public dignity that is available to everybody else – whether such treatment is normally commensurate with the non-public opinions and possibly theologies of the vendors.

Let me end up being clear: If the baker refused to bake a wedding cake if you are divorced and gets remarried – because Jesus obviously said that that is adultery; if he refused to bake a wedding cake for just about any couple who does not give a 10 percent tithe with their church – as commanded in Scripture; if he refused to bake a wedding cake for a heterosexual couple who provides been living along before matrimony (fornication) – if the baker refused to bake marriage cakes for anyone he deemed to end up being sinful, I’d end up being supportive of him (although sinless clients might be few in number).

But this baker is NOT asking the courtroom to ensure his freedom of faith; he’s actually asking the courtroom to ensure and protect his right to discriminate. Mr. Brooks, this case is about much more than “only a cake.”

(Bishop Gene Robinson may be the retired Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church. The sights expressed in this judgment piece do not actually reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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