Which means that we haven't escaped hearing about Missouri's proposed anti-LGBT legislation. It's been presented as a religious liberty issue, of course. Unfortunately, one of the bill's supporters is relatively local so we've gotten to hear her blathering on about it way more than we'd like to. Her talking point is that "no one should be forced to perform a ceremony" that goes against his or her religious beliefs. WTF? Just how does selling someone a cupcake or serving them a meal constitute "performing a ceremony?" When did a commercial transaction become a religious ritual? As I noted in a previous blog post, people who are actually ordained ministers, priests, whatever, have always had the right to refuse to marry anyone they want to and for any bizarre reason. Ministers enjoy religious freedom. They always have. No one is threatening to take their rights away. And does anyone actually believe that gays and lesbians are going to want to have their wedding ceremonies performed by clergy who consider same sex marriage an abomination?
The truth is that what the folks preaching religious liberty are doing is exactly what they're being accused of doing: trying to wrap religion around their bigotry so they can pretend they aren't the ignorant, hateful asshats they really are. Then when they go public with their bigotry, they bitch about their rights being violated or they're being persecuted when people stop shopping at their bakery or stop renting out their private banquet halls. One of the poster children, so to speak, of the religious liberty movement, is a couple from Iowa who owned a de-sanctified church (i.e., a building that had once been an actual church but was now in private ownership). Neither of the owners were clergy, the "chapel" was not a real church, it was a hall they rented out the same way a local hotel, VFW, or other secular organization or business might rent out a banquet hall. As a commercial for-profit business that dealt with the public, their refusal to lease the hall to a same sex couple for a wedding constituted discrimination under the law. They got fined. They also got boycotted. A whole lot of people looked at them and said, "holy wah, those seemingly nice people are actually hateful bigots. I don't want to do business with them." No customers, no business. That's not persecution or a loss of freedom. It's market forces in action because the business owners were stupid enough not to realize that there are more people appalled by discrimination than there are people who support it.
The same thing happened to a couple out in Oregon who had a bakery and were dumb enough to go public with their dislike of gays. Once the frosting hit the fan, their business withered and died. Why? Because most people, the majority of people, are not homophobic asshats or religious fundamentalists. And we don't want to do business with people who are. We're not trying to suppress your right to practice your religion. We just don't think that selling us a cupcake or serving us a meal constitutes a religious practice, and we think that if you think it does, you're way too fracking nuts for us to want to do business with you.