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OPINION: Freedom of speech does not equate to freedom of discrimination

Tamlynn Torchon

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On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Colorado bakery that refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding. The case was decided by a 7-2 majority vote, according to the New York Times. This decision was made with consideration of the “sincere religious beliefs” held by the owner Jack Phillips, according to Justice Kennedy. This decision was also made during this year’s Pride Month, which is a sad coincidence for the LGBT community- a community that the U.S. should be celebrating.

First, let’s note that this ruling goes against Colorado Anti-Discrimination Laws, as this state is part of the 20 states that have enacted protection laws to fight these instances. This ruling, however, does not violate the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that private businesses who serve the public are prohibited from discriminating against a person on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or disability. Note that sexual orientation or gender identity are not mentioned, which means that this decision is federally legal and it overrules any state decision. It also does not matter that same-sex marriage laws do not provide protection in this case, either.

Was the decision right? Legally-speaking, yes it was. Morally-speaking, it depends on one’s personal beliefs on marriage, faith, business practices and government intervention. Many echo Jack Phillips’ sentiment of religious freedom, which falls under freedom of speech: why serve someone who does something that goes against one’s seriously-held faith?

Freedom of speech is the ability for one to freely express themselves without the fear of repercussions of any sorts. It is a highly-valued principle in the United States that everyone must fight to protect. However, freedom of speech does not- and will never- equate to freedom of discrimination or hatred.

This case is not the first time bakeries have refused to serve people based on their sexual orientation, and it is controversial for several reasons: it is discriminatory, it shows some preference for Christian values over others and, most importantly, it questions the efficiency or legitimacy of freedom of speech and expression. That same-sex couple is exercising their freedom of speech in celebrating what is perhaps one of the best moments of their lives: marriage, which is something everyone of all or no faiths can understand. Ultimately, businesses are about a profit; money or cake as objects do not care about any social construct humans fuss over, and perhaps we should all emulate that interesting factor.

The United States is, arguably, a secular state, and that secularism guarantees peoples’ rights to practice any religion, or not practice at all. Phillips’ strong belief in his faith should not give him leeway to turn away people for a difference of opinion on how marriage should be. It is a bit hypocritical, even in Christian terms. Within Christianity, God Himself gives us, His children, the freedom to choose how to live in this world. Even if you hold no religious ground, it is a bit dehumanizing to base someone’s worth of receiving your service on their personal life, which does not affect your own in any way, shape or form. Seriously, how does someone’s sexuality affect you or your family if you’re not directly involved with this person? If this situation happened reversely, where a store run by a same-sex couple refused to serve a religious person or couple, would you be as supportive of this ruling?

If a religion encourages you to dehumanize or withhold service to others for whatever reason, maybe it’s time to question that religion or the general understanding of it. Let’s remember that in the end, we are all God’s creation, and we all deserve happiness in this already-challenging world we live in. Perhaps it is time to demand that businesses clearly showcase who they are and aren’t willing to serve so that potential clients can save time and retain their dignity by purchasing at stores that do want their money, regardless of their lifestyle.

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1 Comment

One Response to “OPINION: Freedom of speech does not equate to freedom of discrimination”

  1. Hemi on July 5th, 2018 12:12 pm

    Hey what’s up, know you from BC…to be honest there are quite some errors in article.

    “Freedom of speech is the ability for one to freely express themselves without the fear of repercussions of any sorts. It is a highly-valued principle in the United States that everyone must fight to protect. However, freedom of speech does not- and will never- equate to freedom of discrimination or hatred.”

    One word. Blacks. History shows that this statement is not as universal as it should be, and thus disqualifies it because not all experience it. Race and Color predates gender identification and same sex marriages. Thus it is obligatory based on this statement that that be fulfilled first and to the fullest.

    “It is a bit hypocritical, even in Christian terms. Within Christianity, God Himself gives us, His children, the freedom to choose how to live in this world. ”

    There are many scriptures that detest same sex marriages and other sins, whether hetero or homo and Christians must abide by not condoning the acts or services…it is not that they discriminate, bit rather it is direct from the Word of The LORD. Yes freewill is a factor but God sets guidelines to what to abstain from. In addition, there are non believers that wouldn’t agree to these acts or services either.

    “Let’s remember that in the end, we are all God’s creation, and we all deserve happiness in this already-challenging world we live in. Perhaps it is time to demand that businesses clearly showcase who they are and aren’t willing to serve so that potential clients can save time and retain their dignity by purchasing at stores that do want their money, regardless of their lifestyle.”

    Lets remember that we are not entitled to anything, but being born and dying. Happiness is like all other possibilities that fade…I agree with the notion of just finding out who wants to serve who and what…if they don’t want to serve a certain people, then let them…that is their loss of money, support, recommendation, etc…just as long as it is not hatred towards the person, and refusal of service doesn’t have to be assumed that the business hates them, but rather does not support or condone their lifestyles, practices and way of being..

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OPINION: Freedom of speech does not equate to freedom of discrimination