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New Jersey Civil Rights and Employment Rights Trial Lawyer Discusses Baker’s Refusal to Provide Wedding Cake to a Same-Sex Couple

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2015 | Civil Rights |

So here’s the trend; conservative religious business owners are using their (misunderstood) “right” of “freedom of religion” to refuse service to same sex couples. Photographers refuse to photograph same-sex weddings. Florists won’t arrange flowers. Venues won’t host ceremonies and receptions.

And now, a baker won’t make a cake.

This is a direct result of our the right-wing activist, hyper-conservative federal judiciary “recognizing” a “right” which, as a Constitutional scholar, I can tell you does not exist: the “right” to discriminate in contract based on religious belief.

Doesn’t exist. If you run a business which does not provide religious services, you have no right to refuse service to any member of the public, for any reason, period. At least, not in New Jersey, where our Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prohibits such bigotry, and which provides for a trial by jury. Yet in many other states, where the civil rights laws are either incomplete or non-existent – and remember, Federal law has not yet recognized protection for gay people at all – no remedy exists.

Which means gay couples just have to take the slap in the face, and move on, tail tucked, to the next business, which hopefully isn’t run by a bigot.

So what “right” does the religious business owner have in this state? In this country? 

He has the right to believe whatever he wants; he has the right to worship as he chooses. He has the right not to be told what he or may not believe, and where he may or may not worship.

Which is a hell of a lot more than most people in the world have.

But his “rights” end at the threshold when the rights of others begin to be injured. If you want to sell a non-religious product or service to the public, then you serve all the public, not just the ones you pick. What if his religious beliefs included racism? Is it ok for him to refuse wedding cakes to black couples? Mixed race couples?

If you won’t serve anyone who walks in the door, then close the doors and do something else. In New Jersey, I’d have that baker in front a jury. Sadly, in many other states, there’s no remedy.

I think my favorite part of this how hypocritical and transparent the argument is in light of the fact that this bigot baker will sell non-wedding treats to gay people, just not wedding cakes. He won’t “pour his creative energy into confectionary centerpieces for celebrations he believes to be at odds with God’s will.”

Well, thanks for the cookies and brownies.

Who needs church nowadays when you can just have your baker provide you a sermon with your soufflé?