Redefining Discrimination

By now you probably know that a Florist in Richland, Washington is being sued by the Attorney General because she declined to decorate for a same-sex ceremony.

The lawsuits are based on the belief that declining to be part of that event was discrimination based on sexual orientation.

However, there’s a problem with the argument that she discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. She has consistently and happily done business with people who identify as gay for years, including the individuals involved in this case. She considered them friends.

Still, the perpetrators of these lawsuits have found a way to rationalize their attempts to ruin the life of a perfectly decent grandmother whose life is a model of how to be charitable without abandoning your convictions; something we used to value in this country.

Since there is no evidence that she actually discriminates based on sexual orientation, they have redefined what discrimination means in order to make it illegal to have a business and disagree with them about same-sex “marriage”.

The old definition of discrimination meant that you couldn’t have a policy of refusing to business with a protected class. Meaning, you can’t say “no Mexicans allowed” or “Protestants only”.

The new definition of discrimination means this: if you offer a particular service for any purpose, you must offer that same service for every purpose. In her case, if you’re willing to do a wedding for a man and a woman, you must be willing to do a wedding for two men.

Where their argument stops no one knows.

Is Mrs. Stutzman obligated to decorate for a Satanic wedding as well? Can she be forced to do a wedding for a thruple (three people of various genders or maybe no gender at all)? If a family member was to be involved in a wedding she did not personally support, will she be compelled to attend at gun point if the family member was willing to pay for her services?

Or maybe gay is the only thing you’re not allowed to say no to? No one knows, yet.

Whatever your business is, stop and think about how this new understanding of “discrimination” could affect what you do?

If you’re a general contractor, surely you can imagine a contract you would decline out of personal conviction. The new ISIS community center perhaps.

You’re a website designer. You probably want the right to decline to build a support group page for pedophiles or a memorial site for “Great, but not forgotten, Nazi heroes”?

Every lawyer has both a right and obligation to decline a case if he feels he cannot provide zealous representation for the client.

You think the Christian thing to do is to decorate for the gay wedding? Great, have a great time decorating for it.

But we should be able to agree that people shouldn’t be forced to choose between their business and their faith. That’s what they do in Cuba, China, and Russia.

Once the government has created a religious litmus test in order to run certain types of businesses, are they not discriminating on religious grounds?

Of course they are. But from their perspective, this is good discrimination necessary to prohibit bad discrimination.

In other words, “you shouldn’t be able to use your religion to hurt people, so I should be able to use the government to hurt you.”

In their mind, the harm associated with needing to find another florist is a greater harm than bankrupting a grandmother because of her beliefs about homosexuality.

In one sense we should be sympathetic. There’s an old saying that “hurt people, hurt people”. When you encounter someone who is genuinely interested in harming another person who offended them, they are inevitably acting out of a lot of real pain. The homosexual community is filled with people who have real stories of real pain because they have been legitimately wronged.

But that doesn’t justify their attempts to use political leverage to destroy the lives of good people in an act of general revenge.

There’s an important parallel to the Islamic Terrorists who shot the cartoonists in Paris. While so many on the left are insisting that Je Suis Charlie, in reality, the left in America has been playing the same game with (thankfully) different weapons for a long time.

Brendan Eich was fired as CEO of the company he started because of his beliefs about marriage. Private property owners have been fined because they do not want their private property used for a same-sex ceremony. Every time a TV personality expresses their commitment to the biblical understanding of marriage, protests organize to get them off the air.  Bakers, florists, and wedding photographers are facing lawsuits and fines because they prefer not to be part of same-sex ceremonies.

Without question, mass murder is orders of magnitude worse than the tactics the militant gay lobby has been using to make examples of the people who disagree with them.

But the root problem is the same.

A society cannot remain free if the people within the society seek the personal destruction of those who offend them.

The law exists to provide a remedy for real harms. But if we now believe that finding another florist after a polite conversation is an injury requiring the attention of our nation’s leadership we might as well drop any remaining pretense of adulthood and return to our pacifiers.

The essence of tolerance is the ability to disagree agreeably. Barronelle Stutzman has proven to be a model of how to do that. The other folks…not so much.

We have different stories, beliefs, and experiences. Each of us can learn something from our neighbors, especially our neighbors who are very different than us.

We all can agree that everyone should have the same opportunities in life regardless of what groups they are a part of. In that sense, we all oppose “discrimination”.  But if “discrimination” has now been redefined to have nothing to do with opportunities and everything to do with feelings, count me out.

I prefer the adult world.

47 replies
  1. Brian Greenfield
    Brian Greenfield says:

    In Indiana every right we have is up to question ! stop the Bible beating on others who don’t view your views the same way as they may see them ,

    Reply
  2. Louise Christensen Zak
    Louise Christensen Zak says:

    Thanks for an illuminating article. Mr. Blackholm hits at least one nail on the head: Proportionality versus abuse. Who was harmed in the original inciting incident? The pair have taken Ms. Stutzman’s polite no as a personal insult but were otherwise un-hurt, yet the state is threatening not only to destroy Ms. Stutzman’s business but her personal finances as well. Seems like a lot of heavy-handed legal ado about a polite, “No, I don’t want to participate in a same-sex wedding.” that apparently was taken as a slight worthy of the most extreme retribution.

    Psychology 101: Extreme defensiveness covers an insecurity. Instead of addressing the reasons for that insecurity, the insecure want to force others into doing what they want as a fix–which of course never solves their problem but perpetuates it. Self-control versus other-control, self-change versus changing others. Do any of us really want to force an unwilling person to do a job for us? The answer is obviously yes, a lot of us are very comfortable with slaves, as long as it is the other guy doing our biding or getting punished for not doing our biding.

    But what is the state’s excuse? All of us should be very scared when it is the state stepping in to bully a business or an individual into behaving a certain approved way. Taliban/ISIS type of tactics are not worthy of individuals, of the state, or of the law. The good news is that serious discrimination must be at an all time low if this is the best, most egregious, most harmful example of discrimination the state attorney general’s office can come up with.

    So please, protect me from dangerous goods, but from people’s religious convictions, unless they involve bodily harm, stand down. As a consumer, I am much more threatened by state bullying over people’s religious and personal choices than I am about people making those religious and personal choices. State bullying and thus shrinking the freedoms of businesses and individuals to make their own un-coerced choices is a far bigger threat than the blown up drama of someone saying no and others not respecting that no–the freedoms of the same-sex couple included.

    Reply
  3. Oshtur
    Oshtur says:

    I’m never sure where you get the ideas you do Joseph. RCW 49.60.030 (1)(b) is clear “The right to the full enjoyment of any…” It doesn’t matter if the business will sell everything BUT wedding floral arrangements, that is a violation of the statute. This is the same as when people would serve blacks but not at the lunch counter or let them rent a hotel room but not let them use the pool. Anything less than complete access is a violation of the law and always has been. Did the business let the customer buy wedding floral arrangements? No? Then it violated the law. This is the way it has always been.

    And Ms Stutzman need do nothing with this order if that is her decision, there were other employees at Arlene’s Flowers LLC that would have been happy to fill the order, Eryn Hugo one by name. But that is the real issue, this isn’t about Ms Stutzman personally wanting to not participate, she wanted in her capacity as the business owner to make it so that no employee could fill the order, regardless of if it was a conflict with their beliefs or not.

    And instructing the business to operate illegally and there by make fraudulent offers of the availability of wedding floral services to the public is what opened the owner to personal liability under the Consumer Protection Act – if the business is only operating illegally because of instructions from the owner the owner loses all liability protection the corporation might have offered.

    And finally of course, the Washington state constitution specifically says that liberty of religious conscience is not an excuse to act without regard for the rights of others, in this case ignoring their right to have beliefs that include same sex marriage and their right to full access to any service provided by the business regardless of their beliefs or sexual orientation.

    The question is why was the owner operating a business as a public accommodation and even offering a service that wasn’t available to people of all beliefs?

    Reply
  4. Daniel Moody
    Daniel Moody says:

    Thank you for this thorough refutation of the modern view of discimination.

    The State no longer believes that anything is wrong. It has replaced right/wrong with Tolerance. As such, the State believes that it is ‘wrong to say something is wrong’.

    Reply
  5. DocReits
    DocReits says:

    Thank you Linda for stating the non-obvious,

    I am a Christian who opposes gay marriage. Unfortunately for those of my belief, the people of WA state voted and won the right for gay marriage to exist as a legal entity within our state. WA state citizens did not vote for “thupple” marriage as the author unfortunately gave as an example.

    Yes, the florist could have refused that ceremony, because it is “illegal” in WA state. Gay marriage is not. Once the state(citizens) force the state’s hand to enforce the laws they pass, you must comply with that law. There were many Christians who disdained allowing blacks to dine in common restaurants with them, in the South, after the Jim Crow laws were abolished.
    They were finally forced, by law, to comply. Same thing here.

    Is it right to allow gays to marry? Absolutely outside and beside the point. The question is…is it legal? The answer is, “Yes”. Like it or not. Then abide by the law, ‘We the People” voted for. Don’t like it? Change the law. Otherwise, you, like Paul, will find yourselves kicking against the goads…not God’s… but the states. The people are the law of our land, not Christians. Blasphemy? You do not live in a Christian legal system, so you must deal with the law of the land.

    (To Christians, and I am one): Our founders did not establish a Christian nation, they established a system of checks and balances, secured and established upon… not God’s Will… but as stated in the Preamble, the will of , “We the People”. Those, who are the god of this country, establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility(read the Preamble)and that is who you are fighting. The US Constitution has not one mention of God. Wake up and deal with this reality. Salt is a very small ingredient in the stew. Lets flavor what we can, and deal with, or change, what we cannot.

    DocReits

    Reply
    • Joseph Backholm
      Joseph Backholm says:

      Render under Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s. The conscience will never belong to Caesar.

      Reply
  6. Scott
    Scott says:

    joe, would you be okay with this “good” grandma saying, “Oh. We don’t decorate for nigger weddings.”? You know. If that’s her belief.

    Reply
    • Joseph Backholm
      Joseph Backholm says:

      I’m simply tired of the self-righteousness inherent in the belief that it should be illegal to make choices they think are mean.

      Am I ok with racism? Of course not. But not all rudeness and incivility should be criminal because they’re subjective concepts. I’m offended by stupid questions as well, but I don’t believe those that ask them should face legal penalties.

      Unless an actual injury has occurred, I think it is best that government needs to stay out of private party transaction. Yes, that could mean people have the freedom to be really mean and hateful. But the only alternative is arming the government to be etiquette cops, which for me is worse.

      Reply
      • Mike
        Mike says:

        I fully agree with you Joseph. The left wants to set the rules against anyone they disogree with and call you racist or homophobe or criminal if you disagree. The fact that the florest sold the couple involved flowers in general and is willing to continue to do so proves that she is not discriminating, she should be able to draw he own moral line based on her beliefs.

        Reply
  7. Joe
    Joe says:

    For preferring the “adult world”, you certainly don’t seem to deal in facts very much.

    Nazis, pedophiles and other of these supposed groups aren’t protected classes under Washington law. Brendan Eich wasn’t fired for his beliefs about gay marriage. He lobbied for a constitutional amendment which put him in direct conflict with the very policies he helped to craft. He wasn’t even fired. He voluntarily chose to resign.

    In addition, these laws aren’t about “feelings”. These protected groups include discrimination against people on the basis of their religion, a protection this author seems to relish in. Honestly, how on earth can you pine about Brendan Eich being fired, and then pine on about wanting to discriminate against others? This post screams of the idea that you deserve privileges, not that everyone deserves rights.

    Reply
    • Joseph Backholm
      Joseph Backholm says:

      Obviously there are differences in the examples mentioned, but the larger point is, do we want the government telling people which convictions are legal and which convictions are illegal. I, and lots of other people, believe it is the inalienable rights of individuals to make those decisions for themselves, especially when the only harm caused in doing so is that someone needs to find a different vendor.

      You appear to believe that it is the proper role of government to officiate every business transaction to make sure no one is being illegally rude. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

      Reply
      • Col Temp
        Col Temp says:

        well put Joseph. Joe just can’t get that concept as well as the fact that he is being just as discriminatory back. He wants to discriminate against anyone who does believe what he believes.

        Reply
      • Joe
        Joe says:

        So why don’t you repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that gives you protection from discrimination on the basis of religion? Or do you love big government when it protects you and not others?

        Reply
  8. Joe
    Joe says:

    A gay baker, florist, photographer or wedding planner who refused to service a Christian wedding would be faced with the exact same fines and penalties.

    Of course you’ve never heard of a gay baker, florist, photographer or wedding planning refusing to do so. Because a) it’s against the law, b) it’s rude, and c) it’s un-Christian. After all, name a single instance in the bible where Christ discriminated against anyone. Not like Christ = un-Christian. Christ teaches us to love our neighbors, literally to “give all who ask of you,” not to condemn, and not to judge.

    Leave the judging up to God. I don’t know what religion this woman follows, but she isn’t following in the footsteps of Christ.

    Reply
    • Col Temp
      Col Temp says:

      It’ snot judging when someone says I don’t believe that something is right.
      You are quick to call to love and not judge yet by your own word you show how un-loving and judgmental you are.
      You have made a judgement that disagreeing with Gay marriage is wrong. Therefore those who do believe that are wrong.
      You and un-loving in that you can’t find yourself to allow someone to think and believe differently.

      I sorry you believe wrongly. You will be judged by God accordingly and held accountable. You are right I don’t need to judge you as you have judged yourself lacking already.

      Reply
    • Col Temp
      Col Temp says:

      “A gay baker, florist, photographer or wedding planner who refused to service a Christian wedding would be faced with the exact same fines and penalties.”

      In technicalities yes, but it would never happen in a million years. You know that and so does everyone else. This is about anti-Christian bigotry dressed up to look like supporting a small minorities rights. Instead its all about denying rights to Christians. Period.

      “And they hated the light because their deeds were evil”

      Reply
    • CJ
      CJ says:

      Joe-
      It sounds like you’re trying to force your Christian views on this lady. Isn’t the great point of this country that we get to live by our views, not someone else’s?

      Reply
      • Joe
        Joe says:

        Force my views? By doing something for me she does for anyone else? I’m not asking for anything special. Same thing as she’d do for anyone else. You know, that whole “treat others as you would like to be treated” thing Christ talked about.

        Reply
  9. Linda
    Linda says:

    When I contacted Attorney General Ferguson last summer he stated that because the original Gay Marriage law did not include a Refuse and Refer Clause he had no other choice but prosecute. Maybe we should also love by our Stage Representatives who said No One would be forced to be involved in Gay Marriage ceremonies if it violated their faith. Ask them to add a Refuse and Refer clause.

    Reply
    • DocReits
      DocReits says:

      Thank you Linda for stating the non-obvious,

      I am a Christian who opposes gay marriage. Unfortunately for those of my belief, the people of WA state voted and won the right for gay marriage to exist as a legal entity within our state. WA state citizens did not vote for “thupple” marriage as the author unfortunately gave as an example.

      Yes, the florist could have refused that ceremony, because it is “illegal” in WA state. Gay marriage is not. Once the state(citizens) force the state’s hand to enforce the laws they pass, you must comply with that law. There were many Christians who disdained allowing blacks to dine in common restaurants with them, in the South, after the Jim Crow laws were abolished.
      They were finally forced, by law, to comply. Same thing here.

      Is it right to allow gays to marry? Absolutely outside and beside the point. The question is…is it legal? The answer is, “Yes”. Like it or not. Then abide by the law, ‘We the People” voted for. Don’t like it? Change the law. Otherwise, you, like Paul, will find yourselves kicking against the goads…not God’s… but the states. The people are the law of our land, not Christians. Blasphemy? You do not live in a Christian legal system, so you must deal with the law of the land.

      (To Christians, and I am one): Our founders did not establish a Christian nation, they established a system of checks and balances, secured and established upon… not God’s Will… but as stated in the Preamble, the will of , “We the People”. Those, who are the god of this country, establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility(read the Preamble)and that is who you are fighting. The US Constitution has not one mention of God. Wake up and deal with this reality. Salt is a very small ingredient in the stew. Lets flavor what we can, and deal with, or change, what we cannot.

      DocReits

      Reply
    • Iz
      Iz says:

      As the woman half of an interracial couple I say it would not be.Why should a baker be forced by law to bake us a flan/german chocolate cake?

      Reply
  10. Tionico
    Tionico says:

    FASCISM defined: government control of private means of production. Here we have a private means of production, Arlene’s Flowers, and government are attempting to control which work that means of production will perform and for whom. In other words, we are living under a fascist government. Like it? Fine.. move to Cuba, North Korea, China….. they’ll be very happy to impress their requirements and limitations upon you, and “reeducate” and “reprogramme” you when you fail to comply.

    Meanwhile how’s about leaving we current occupants of this place to live out our faith before our God as WE each believe we ought. As the article said, you like doing flowers for sodomites? Fine. Hang out your shingle and wait for the calls to come flooding in.

    Reply
  11. B
    B says:

    While legislators are on a roll to define words that used to mean something well understood by most sane Americans, why not re-define water – any thing that’s liquid; food – anything you can put in your mouth; marriage – a commitment between two people – aw heck, everybody just enjoy football, but in the game of life – bring your own “goal posts.”

    Reply
  12. Rick Wilson
    Rick Wilson says:

    Your article was full of platitudes about why it is OK to discriminate. It is also full of facts that have nothing to do with the situation – i.e. What does it matter if the person doing the discriminating is a ‘grandmother’; would she be less valued if she were single or only a parent or … ? By forcing someone to ‘go down the road’ to get the services others can easily get at your place of business, does, in fact, treat that new person in a way that makes his/her life more difficult. It seems so obvious, if you do not want to serve the public, then do not pretend you do! Unless there is a health issue (threatening behaviour, no shoes, etc.) then why not welcome new business. I guess the larger issue is still that it seems this organization exists nearly solely to focus on the sex habits of others – is that really what you all spend your time fixating upon? Really?! I sure wish you would spend as much time working to help the poor, advocating something other than war to help solve the world’s problems, and on and on. Maybe yo could even read a good book (perhaps The Good Book and stop underlining the sexy parts!)

    Reply
    • Tionico
      Tionico says:

      You fail to regard the faxts in the case. There was no “get down the road” involved. The florist in question actuallly helped the two men find a florist who was willing to serve them.

      Further, it wasn’t an issue of “just selling” flowers to the two men, No, it was an issue of becoming a part of the function, contributing to it, supporting it. Sort of like a man who has a car being asked to drive a pair of bank robbers to the bank then back home after they rob the place. That driver is called an “accessory” to the action, as he was an essential participant, furthering the action. He is criminally liable. So you don’t think sodomy is on the same level as bank robbery? Well, that just shows your ignorance of God’s Word and values. HE condemns them both. Same thing in HIS eyes. This individual (you are correct, the ancilliary details are moot) simply decided she could sell them the car, but not drive it to the robbery with them inside it. And you want to punish HER for that decision? YOU are the wrongdoer.

      Reply
        • Col Temp
          Col Temp says:

          No Joe, But it is still something God calls a perversion and depravity. Christians are clearly called to avoid and abstain for these or showing acceptance of them.

          Reply
          • Joe
            Joe says:

            How does making flowers like you do for anyone else “show acceptance” for them? When I got married, I certainly didn’t ask for any approval from my florist. I just wanted the freakin’ flowers.

    • Col Temp
      Col Temp says:

      Yes Rick, and you and your organization spend all your time trying to force others to agree with you.
      You show your discrimination by wanting to force others to agree with you.You say you want to serve to public yet demand that they only believe what you want them to belive.
      As they say, its starts here and what are you going to do when they come for you and your beliefs?

      Reply
      • Joe
        Joe says:

        Yes, that must be why we’re passing constitutional amendments forcing people to adhere to our beliefs.

        Oh wait, that’s Christians. Never mind.

        Reply
  13. NANCY
    NANCY says:

    You’ve nailed it, Joseph. 1.) Let’s flood Attorney General Bob Ferguson with phone calls at his office number: 360-753-6200. Please be respectful but make it clear that we think he is out of line and that Barronelle should not be coerced to engage in activity that goes against her conscience and long-held beliefs about marriage (not homosexuality). 2.) Also, directing letters to Ferguson’s office will leave a more visible and lasting impact. If you can send multiple letters, even better! His address is: Bob Ferguson, Attorney General, PO Box 40100, Olympia, WA 98504. I suggest you include some dried flower petals to help him remember why we are writing. 3.) Pray for Barronelle, everyone, and send her cards and notes of encouragement to her shop: Arlene’s Flowers, 1177 Lee Boulevard, Richland, WA 99352. Do not tie up her phone with non-business calls as we don’t want to disrupt orders coming in. 4.) If you live near Richland, start using her services for your special occasions. Begin early to order for Valentine’s Day so she can be prepared beforehand to satisfy the orders. We don’t want to overwhelm her but support her. 5.) Go to the Alliance Defending Freedom and see the video of Barronelle discussing her situation and case. She is a gem!!!

    Reply
    • Joe
      Joe says:

      God created Adam & Eve. God also created the races, separated them by continents and confounded them by language. If someone had a religious belief about marriage (not race) that the races should stay apart, should they be able to refuse service to interracial ceremonies based on their beliefs?

      Reply
      • Col Temp
        Col Temp says:

        short answer is yes.

        While short sighted by them , they would quickly be out of business as many will not go there. No one is denying them their rights only refusing to participate in that specific ceremony.

        this case is not about discrimination its all about a hard left liberal AG and Governor who what to push an agenda. Paying back the small minority that give them lots of money to get elected.

        Reply
    • Col Temp
      Col Temp says:

      Probably just like the initiative process.
      Unfortunately there are plenty of AG just waiting to be appointed in Seattle who are as out of touch as this one.
      Washington hasn’t become California 2 but its certainly working its way there.

      Reply

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