The Case for the Baker in the Gay-Wedding Culture War

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Andrew Sullivan writes in New York Magazine:

If someone had asked me back in the day, if, in 2017, we’d be having a discussion about whether a fundamentalist baker should be forced by the law to create a wedding cake for a gay couple, I’d have been gobsmacked, as the Brits say. Smacked in the gob because only a decade ago such a question would have seemed so remotely hypothetical as to be absurd. And yet, here we are. A Christian baker has taken a stand on the grounds of religious conscience and artistic freedom not to provide a cake specifically designed for a legal, constitutional same-sex wedding. His case was just argued in the Supreme Court no less. The staggering victories of the marriage-equality movement (now, Australia!) have led us here — far sooner than most of us pioneers ever contemplated. And the speed and finality of this social change has — understandably — frightened, disturbed, and alienated many on the other side. They are still smarting from the sting of defeat, defensibly regrouping and obsessing over their victimhood.

Which is why I think it was a prudential mistake to sue the baker. Live and let live would have been a far better response. The baker’s religious convictions are not trivial or obviously in bad faith, which means to say he is not just suddenly citing them solely when it comes to catering to gays. His fundamentalism makes him refuse to make even Halloween cakes, for Pete’s sake. More to the point, he has said he would provide any form of custom-designed cakes for gay couples — a birthday cake, for example — except for one designed for a specific celebration that he has religious objections to. And those religious convictions cannot be dismissed as arbitrary (even if you find them absurd). Opposition to same-sex marriage has been an uncontested pillar of every major world religion for aeons.

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