Anyone who follows me on social media or has read my writings for other places knows that I support gay marriage. Unlike Barack Obama, my position on the issue didn’t “evolve.” I voted against what became Article XII, Section 15 in the Louisiana State Constitution, which outlawed gay marriage in Louisiana, in 2004.
Having said all that, I also support State Rep. Mike Johnson’s (R-Bossier City) HB 707 which would protect Louisiana businesses from punishment by state and local over their views on marriage. Especially after the events in Indiana last week, we must protect the views of everyone on this issue to live according to their conscience.
One of the most persuasive arguments to support gay marriage is that we must support freedom for everyone. It’s an argument I agree with and not only on gay marriage. My default position on nearly every issue is freedom. I believe just as strongly in a florist’s, wedding photographer’s, and caterer’s right to refuse to offer a service for a gay wedding as I do in a gay couple’s right to get married.
I give credit to Johnson for limiting this issue to marriage. Gay rights opponents would have a point if this bill was giving license to discriminate against gays in everyday business. But this bill narrows it to just one specific act, marriage. No government should ever compel a person, whether individually or through their business, to act against their conscience.
Do any of the following examples seem fair or morally right to my readers:
- A florist is fined $1,000 for refusing to offer a floral arrangement for a gay wedding.
- A bakery is facing a $150,000 fine for refusing to offer a wedding cake for a gay couple.
- A Catholic couple is fined $13,000 for refusing to host a gay wedding ceremony on their farm.
- A photographer is fined $7,000 for refusing to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony.
I disagree with the decision of the business owners to not take part in a gay wedding ceremony. I have attended gay weddings. But, I also disagree with criminalizing and punishing the decision of these businesses through the state. There is nothing stopping gay couples from finding bakeries, florists, photographers, and reception halls that cater to gay weddings.
In a free society, businesses should be able to decide the terms of who they will serve and when they will serve. It’s a shame that legislation like HB 707 is necessary to protect freedom of association and freedom of conscience. For me, the true test of freedom is if I’m willing to speak up and fight for the rights of those who I oppose. That’s why I have to support HB 707.
Before you make your decision on HB 707, I urge you first to read the bill itself. I also urge you to read State Rep. Mike Johnson’s op-ed from Friday, explaining why he filed the bill.
Then ask yourself why should the state have to power to force one side of the gay marriage to accept nothing less than total capitulation. That mindset will lead to a frightening precedent.
Louisiana must make a stand for freedom and tolerance this session. The Louisiana legislature must approve HB 707 and Governor Jindal must sign it into law.