Most of my friends were horrified by the Arizona "religious freedom" law that was passed and then vetoed by the governor. They claimed it was "Jim Crow for gays" and made some good arguments about what was so wrong with such a law.
Nevertheless, I continue to maintain that it is not a facile issue - and there are points on the "other side" that are valid and worthy. Law prof Ilya Shapiro defly highlights what they are.
Even though I’m for marriage equality – next week I’ll be filing a brief supporting the challenge to the marriage laws of Oklahoma and Utah in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit – I have no problem with Arizona’s SB 1062.
The prototypical scenario that SB 1062 is meant to prevent is the case of the New Mexico wedding photographer who was fined for declining to work a same-sex commitment ceremony. This photographer doesn’t refuse to provide services to gay clients, but felt that she couldn’t participate in the celebration of a gay wedding. There’s also the Oregon bakery that closed rather than having to provide wedding cakes for same-sex ceremonies. Why should these people be forced to engage in activity that violates their religious beliefs?
For that matter, gay photographers and bakers shouldn’t be forced to work religious celebrations, Jews shouldn’t be forced to work Nazi rallies, and environmentalists shouldn’t be forced to work job fairs in logging communities. This isn’t the Jim Crow South; there are plenty of wedding photographers – over 100 in Albuquerque – and bakeries who would be willing to do business regardless of sexual orientation, and no state is enforcing segregation laws. I bet plenty of Arizona businesses would and do see more customers if they advertised that they welcomed the LGBT community.
At the end of the day, that’s what this is about: tolerance and respect for other people’s beliefs. While governments have the duty to treat everyone equally under the law, private individuals should be able to make their own decisions on whom to do business with and how – on religious or any other grounds. Those who disagree can take their custom elsewhere and encourage others to do the same.
I have very conflicting emotions regarding these issues. As someone who strongly defends the rights of my gay friends and relatives, I in no way want to compromise their freedoms and freedom of association. Nevertheless, as Shapiro states - should we force Jews to work at a Nazi function? Would it be right to say a black person was breaking the law if they refused to photograph a party celebrating the Confederacy?