Bigotry and the First Amendment
Received Dec. 6
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case involving a baker in Colorado who refuses to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. He claims his religious beliefs and the First Amendment gives him the right to discriminate against people whose sexual status he disagrees with.
The case is challenging. I am strongly opposed to discrimination based on race, nationality, sexual status, etc., and I’m disturbed by the bigotry being enabled by the Trump administration. On the other hand, if I had a similar business and a customer asked me to make a cake with a Nazi swastika, I would refuse without hesitation and feel justified.
Is there a difference? I hope so.
Opposition to bigotry is consistent with our role in a world war, the evolution in our national history, established law and it has become part of our social contract. No public representative dares publicly support racism and Nazis even if they harbor different attitudes in private.
The baker, however, claims his personal interpretation of a particular religious dogma gives him the freedom to discriminate. To be equivalent to my hypothetical business scenario, the baker has to make the specious claim that members of LGBT communities are fundamentally recognized as threats to American people and principles. Strong forces, driven by fear, are trying to move us in that backward direction, but I hope most people, and the Supreme Court, will see the danger and that there is a door we better not open. (Word count: 246)