As the debate over gay marriage began heating up, supporters of the idea insisted that it was a matter of basic libertarianism. “Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t have one,” went the bumper-sticker-turned-rallying-cry. Of course, it was never going to be that simple with regard to something as foundational as marriage, and now we are starting to see there are real consequences to being publicly opposed to the practice. In last week’s issue, Mark Hemingway wrote of Christian businesses around the country that have rankled state authorities for the crime of refusing to participate in gay weddings (“The ‘Human Rights’ Juggernaut,” Sept. 9, 2013).
The most high-profile case involves the seven-year legal battle of a New Mexico wedding photography business that was fined in excess of $6,000 for refusing to shoot a gay commitment ceremony. State and local authorities have also threatened or fined an inn in Vermont, a printer in Kentucky, a florist in Washington state, and a bakery in Oregon for declining to provide their services in gay weddings and commitment ceremonies. The legal issues involved are not a simple matter of public accommodation, as these businesses all willingly serve gay clients in every capacity other than matrimonial. They just don’t want to be compelled to participate in events of religious significance that run counter to their faith.
Well, in the week since Hemingway’s article appeared, we are sad to report, Sweet Cakes, the bakery in Gresham, Oregon, that was mentioned in the article, has closed its doors. Oregon labor commissioner Brad Avakian told the Oregonian that he hoped to “rehabilitate” Sweet Cakes as one outcome of the state investigation into the matter, but the family that owns the business had long been receiving threats, and activists were already pressuring local vendors not to do business with the bakery. After shuttering the premises, the owners hung a sign on the door that reads, “This fight is not over we will continue to stand strong. Your religious freedom is becoming not free anymore. This is ridiculous that we cannot practice our faith anymore. The LORD is good and we will continue to serve Him with all our heart.”
Upon hearing that the bakery had shut its doors, The Scrapbook recalled an appearance by Andrew Sullivan on CNN this past June. Sullivan, who through his essays for the New Republic starting in the late 1980s arguably did more than any other individual to advance the cause of gay marriage, was asked about the inevitable clash between gay marriage and religious liberty:
I don’t want anybody’s religious liberty—I want that to be defined as maximally as possible. We do not threaten and we should never threaten the conscientious beliefs of those who disagree with us, but we should welcome their freedom because it’s our freedom too. And so I’m very concerned, actually, that we may become intolerant of people who believe homosexuality is still sinful.
We take Sullivan at his word that he’s very concerned that gay marriage advocates “may become intolerant,” so we hate to break it to him that that’s already the case. For anyone who genuinely believes that people’s beliefs should not be threatened and that religious liberty should be “defined as maximally as possible,” the gay marriage movement has already gone off the rails.