Opinion | Why the Religious Liberty Law Doesn't Scare Me

For those who are here, I’m actually ecstatic that you clicked the link instead of knee-jerking over the headline. To begin, I offer you brilliant readers a shout-out of thanks. You’re a dying breed and I hope you can encourage others to go forth and multiply.

So let’s dig in some heels.

Let’s say you’re a staunch Southern Baptist who abhors the idea of same-sex marriage. You run your own private business — not something funded by the government — and someone comes in for a “gay cake.” Imagine that it would mean (to you) that you’re betraying your interpretation of what God wants and that you just can’t bring yourself to do it. You’re not rude to the potential clients, but you explain your viewpoint. Naturally, your guests balk and threaten to sue. Still, you have your values and there’s just no way you can bring yourself to defy your understanding of God’s will.

Oh, boy. Attorney time.

Or imagine again that, in order to show your appreciation for the new shop in town, you decide to walk into a Muslim-owned bakery for a 20th-anniversary cake. They congratulate you and everything seems to go well — until they find out the names on the cake are Catherine and Sara. The owner’s wife apologizes, but to make such a cake is in direct violation of their interpretation of Allah’s will. You beseech some compassion from the shop’s owner himself, but he’s in total agreement with his wife.

You don’t want to appear Islamaphobic, but damn does that smart!

In a nutshell, that’s what this Religious Liberty law is about; it’s the right to deny service to someone if it interferes with one’s religious affiliation — Christian, Muslim, Jewish, you name it.

Now! The best part is how it’s like that quilted vest your Grandma crocheted you: It’s reversible.

Imagine you own a place called The LGBT Cake Wizards, and you’re humming right along making kick-ass cakes for those in our community plus those who are our allies, those who are super-local and chose you because you’re a block away, and those who’ve seen your work and don’t give a damn what your orientation is. You’ve had articles written up in local magazines, online publications, and newspapers and they’ve got pics of you and your creations that prove you deserve to be one of the “top three bakeries in town.” The outside of your shop flies giant rainbow flags that whip in the wind so hard they sound like applause to passersby. Many congratulations for your success — you’ve earned it and the townsfolk adore you!

Imagine now, that someone walks in and spends a good half-hour of your time choosing a “very special and significant” cake — it must be Bible-shaped and red-velvet, both of which are cool with you — then wants you to write, “Homo Sex Is Sin!” on the cake. (For real?) In your handwriting; in one of the specialty boxes with your logo printed for all to see; inside a beautiful bag on which you had an expensive designer create to reflect your brand and, inside of such, your personal values.

Houston, we have a problem.

Actually, Houston: Scratch that — we’re good.

You’re now able to tell him it’s time for him to leave; that his service is denied as your religion won’t allow for that. (And no, you don’t need to cite your religion; you’re protected, too.)

Imagine there’s another shop — Our Town’s Wedding Best. Perhaps it’s owned by a heterosexual couple. That very same individual comes in and asks for the same lettering on the cake. (Excuse me?!) These owners are decent, business-minded people, but there’s no way they’re letting a cake leave their store with that foul message as part of their handiwork.

Sorry, Charlie: service denied on religious grounds, and no — they’re not citing a religion. Out you go.

In both these instances, are you discriminating against someone whose religion allows — regardless of anyone’s crude interpretation of scripture — this sort of language? Nope! You’re protecting your business from trolls.

This new law allows for it, meaning that’s your right! The very minute this individual cries to a court that he’s been discriminated against, he can count on being shut down by a judge now that discrimination against his bigotry is the law of the land.

But what about those who just can’t stand the idea that their gay wedding cake would be denied them? Frankly, it’s a bizarre way to part with your dough. Why would you want the government to mandate that a bigot gets to dip into your wallet? Honestly. Why would you want to support an anti-LGBT business so that it can continue to prosper and spread its ugly values throughout your community? Keep your money, honey! Go to a place that values you as a person and as a client.

A better idea? Once you find out a place is anti-LGBT, you should do what others have done for ages and spread the word. Don’t chip away at your savings on account of their bigotry — bring a deluge of customer-less days for them instead. Once you tell your friends, they tell their friends, and word gets around. Next thing you know, the free market does what it does and wham! They’re having a Going Out of Business Sale and you can thank the good-hearted people of your community for withholding their patronage from such monstrous idealogues.

It may sound like a hateful thing to do, but so is (in its simple-minded way) signing this Religious Liberty nonsense into law. So don’t be afraid — be active! Show them how ridiculous it was for the GOP to celebrate this nonsense when, ultimately, the LGBT community can make this really, really bad for business.

Call me an optimist, but I believe in our community’s might to take on haters. It’s always us who outwits dimwits. Let’s not stop here.