Friday, March 3, 2017

No right not to cater gay weddings, court rules

Florists Join Bakers, Photographers in Court Ruling Ordering Them to Serve Gay Weddings - Hit & Run : - Scott Shackford:

February 17, 2017 - "Florists — at least those in Washington State — can be forced to provide their goods and services for gay weddings. That was the unanimous decision from the state's supreme court....

"The high-profile case ... pitted Baronnelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, against a gay couple who had come to her seeking her flowers for their wedding. She declined, citing her religious opposition to recognizing same-sex marriage.... Washington forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

"Stutzman's argument was that she wasn't discriminating on the basis of the men being gay but rather refusing to participate in the wedding (which wasn't even legally recognized by the state when they started planning it in 2013). She argued that government mandating her participation by requiring her to provide flowers violated her constitutional rights to free speech, free exercise, and free association.

"The court roundly rejected all of her claims. The decision noted courts had previously rejected claims that attempted to separate 'status' from 'conduct' in similar ways, that, for example, discriminating against somebody who is pregnant falls under sex discrimination. As for her attempt to invoke her religious freedoms, they noted that the Supreme Court has set the precedent that 'that individuals who engage in commerce necessarily accept some limitations on their conduct as a result.'

"As for her free speech claim, the court [says] Requiring Stutzman to prepare flowers for a same-sex marriage is not actually compelling her to endorse said marriages. This is very similar to how courts have ruled on wedding cakes. They have declined to accept the argument that the creation of a wedding cake is in and of itself expressive speech, but a baker does have the freedom to reject orders to pass along a particular textual message.....

"The Cato Institute submitted an amicus brief defending the florist's right to say no to the couple as a First Amendment issue.... The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the shop (and was just designated a 'hate group' by the Southern Poverty Law Center) is promising to try to get the case before the U.S. Supreme Court."

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