The Real Slippery Slope

Social conservatives call gay marriage the “slippery slope” that endangers our freedoms. I never understood that argument, even when I was trying to make it. Yes, it may endanger your version of morality, but your freedoms? No, it doesn’t do that. However, what CAN happen really will endanger your freedoms – in fact, it already is.

Last year, Jack Phillips – owner of Lakewood’s Masterpiece Cakeshop – refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s private wedding. As a private citizen, he exercised his First Amendment rights to religious expression and free speech. He immediately found himself at the center of a discrimination firestorm, complete with protests outside his shop and a writeup in The Advocate. What he probably wasn’t expecting was what has recently been announced.

The District Attorney filed a discrimination complaint on behalf of the gay couple he refused to serve. Now Phillips faces the very real possibility of prosecution and a year in jail for his refusal. The slippery slope here was the discrimination laws that made this sort of thing possible – the Constitution, including the Civil Rights Act and all similar Amendments, were meant to stop discrimination on the part of the government. Schools, voting places, and other government institutions were supposed to be affected. Thanks to liberals, though, those laws are being expanded to be used as weapons against those they dislike: private citizens and business owners trying to stand up for their faith.

To some degree, I can understand wanting to change the mindset of some people. The law is not the way to do it, though – not in a free society. Discrimination against black people was a serious problem in the early 1960’s when the Civil Rights Act was passed. The government needed to come up with a way to end discrimination by government officials, and in order to do that they had to change the minds of those people. Does discrimination still exist? Is racism still an issue? Of course it is. When I was a teenager I was refused a job at a store near my home by a black manager who openly told me and several others that she would only hire black people. I went to school with white kids whose fathers were still members of the KKK. The big difference today is that such ideas are not acceptable in mainstream society.

Thanks to the power of public opinion, most companies want to protect everyone’s rights. Especially in the age of the internet, when a story of discrimination can be spread to the entire world at the speed of thought, businesses don’t want to ruffle feathers and most won’t refuse to serve a person unless they’re a danger to all of their other customers. The idea with discrimination laws now is that businesses that want to have licenses have to abide by the city, county, and state laws where they operate – if that means they are never allowed to turn someone down because of race, religion, or sexual orientation, they have to agree to the terms or they can’t stay in business.

This is NOT the way to use anti-discrimination laws.

The Constitution was never meant to dictate our personal dealings. It was never meant to allow laws to be written restricting what people believe or who they will serve in their private businesses. Discrimination laws may have been needed, but our Constitution was meant to protect us from the GOVERNMENT. It was meant to limit what the government could do or stop us from doing.

You see, in the legal world, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. That means that if a known anti-gay religious leader wants to eat in a restaurant owned by a gay couple, they will be required to serve him. Even if he’s having a conversation that they don’t like, they MUST serve him. If they don’t, they can now be brought up on the very same charges that Mr. Phillips is now facing. If they do not provide the same service to the people they don’t like as they do to the customers who are gay, they will be in violation of the same law.

Somehow I don’t think the gay community wants to be held to that standard. If you don’t want to have to do that, don’t try to use the law to do it to others. We live in a free country. If you don’t like Mr. Phillips, don’t take your business to him – protest calmly, get out the word, but stop trying to force people beyond tolerance and into acceptance with legal brute force.

This is exactly the kind of thing I have tried to warn social conservatives about for a long time. Tolerate gay marriage, give it direction – otherwise you will lose both your belief-based morality laws AND your basic freedoms all at once.