The Right To Do Business

If you run a bakery should you have to do business with everybody? If you are in any kind of business should you be forced to do business with everybody in spite of your reasons for refusing that business?

This seems to be the basic issue with the recent gay marriage couple suing a bakery for refusing to furnish a wedding cake to their recently legalized union. The bakery in Lakewood, Colorado was determined to have unlawfully refused to do business with the gay couple.

What a mess!

First of all, I would like to temporarily remove the notions of race, gender, or sexual orientation from the basic issue. The issue is fundamental to our rights in this country. One of our coveted rights is our ability to buy whatever we want from any merchant we choose. Once again, this is fundamental.

For the same reason, don’t you think there is a similar freedom for merchants to be able to choose those to whom they will market their goods?

Discrimination, you say? Of course it is discrimination. Having the latitude to discriminate about your decisions encompasses the whole definition of freedom, and therefore is the basis of our Constitution.

So, here we go. Why should not the bakery not be able to choose the people with whom they do business? Certainly, their proposed gay customers had the choice of dozens of bakeries to do their wedding cake. Why is one side of the transaction process handcuffed by  law, and the other not have similar restrictions?

My answer is that the bakery had to have a local business license to do business with the general public. That’s the rub right there. A license to do business with the general public necessitates the condition that you must do business with the whole of that public, and you cannot discriminate in which customers to serve.

The basic question is this. If you are in a business that sells to the general public should you be forced into doing business with that entire public?  Is the notion of “No Shirt – No Shoes – No Service” a constitutionally legal position? The ideas are related.

Why do we not have the right to discriminate among those with whom we do business? What do you think?


10 thoughts on “The Right To Do Business”

  1. if a business owner did have the right to only do business with those he agreed with, why is it so difficult to get rid of the laws banning discrimination against any other group? Apparently people who support banning gays from christian shops have no problem with forcing racists to serve black people, or fundamentalist shops to serve other regions. You can’t have it both ways. if it is illegal not to serve everybody else, it should also be illegal not to serve gays.

  2. Hi TJ. I agree with you. Although I believe we should have the freedom of choosing merchants, I also believe we should have the freedom of choosing our customers. As a matter of fact, as a contractor you have those rights. If you as a housing contractor do not want to build a house for someone you don’t like, that’s OK. How is this different from the wedding cake deal?

    Right now, the law is having it both ways. If you as a licensed business person refuse to do business with a f group of people, you are breaking the law. However, someone you don’t like does not have to come to you just because you are in the business.

    The right to discriminate does not work both ways. You can choose your merchant, but as a merchant you cannot choose your customers.

    I happen to believe that people should not be discriminated against. I know that if I want a particular item, it is within my rights to choose where to get that item. I also know that the merchant I choose cannot refuse me.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. what gets me is the idea that “sincerely held religious beliefs” are an adequate standard certain state governments have decided to use to judge whether a group of people get an exemption from the law. It implies that religious beliefs are more important then other beliefs. What is the difference between many different types of sincerely held belief? Why is religion given special status?

  4. “sincerely held religious beliefs”

    This is not only illogical, it is ridiculous for a legal standard for anything. Who defined sincere? Maybe we should think in terms of eliminating the category of non-profit or non-taxable organizations. Or, we can just go to a system where only individuals pay taxes, and any organizations or corporations don’t. After all, it is the consumer who winds up paying all the taxes, anyway.

  5. I agree so much with this “Of course it is discrimination. Having the latitude to discriminate about your decisions encompasses the whole definition of freedom, and therefore is the basis of our Constitution:”

    I’d take faith out of the equation; there are non believers who don’t want same-sex marriage because they know what it portends, and that is two men marrying one woman, loving your dog enough to marry…why not? “They deserve to marry…they love each other so much”
    Ridiculous assertion, but …..who’d have thought we’d have two men marrying? Think the Founding Fathers ever gave that a thought?

    By our Constitution, I do not think we could legally deny anybody marriage…

    My question for the last few years has been “Why would any gay couple want a baker who didn’t celebrate their union baking their cake?” Particularly a photographer! Who wants people who don’t champion that cause taking pictures ?? Would the pictures be unbiased, fair? Who knows what someone might do?
    Awful that a photog might only take non flattering pictures, right?
    Also awful for gays to have spat on priests and pastors in the days following the SCOTUS decision.
    Or is that okay?

    Hard for me to imagine walking into a shop to buy something and be told I can’t shop there. How awful. I would feel like DIRT. It happened to blacks for YEARS, but do NOT let my liberal Black girlfriend hear anybody equate same-sex marriage with CIVIL RIGHTS; she’ll take your head off immediately. And I’ve seen her do it.

    Are we going to get to a point that I can’t afford to shop in a Beverly Hills store but can stroll around….until they realize I can’t afford anything and I’m asked to leave? Hm…kind of stream of consciousness talking there….but do I have a point?

    I hate this whole thing.
    I am worried about the children of gay parents, many of whom write today how miserable they felt growing up and not having parents of each sex.
    I am worried about how far this “everybody can marry!” thing is going to go.

    I’m tired of seeing pinning Christians and Jews with calls of BIGOTRY for fighting for their values.
    But, no….this is the law of the land now, and we’re done.

  6. Wow! What a comment, Z. However, if the states were to pass laws against polygamy, they would be perfectly legal. As a matter of fact it is still illegal for a man to have multiple wives, a situation called polygyny. Polyandry is the opposite situation with a woman having multiple husbands.

    Just because there is no Constitutional requirement about sex and marriage, it is perfectly legal, and necessary for the individual states to outlaw multiple marriage partners. Of course, many men would love to be married to someone like Sophia Loren simultaneously with other men. I happen to think that Loren is one of the most beautiful woman in history, although I cannot rule out younger versions of Elizabeth Taylor who had more marriages than an Arab Sheik. Uh, oh. My fantasies are telling, aren’t they? Marilyn Monroe, too?

    Remember, just because something is logical doesn’t make it right, moral, or legal. We have the power to determine those things. Don’t we?

  7. Gad, I hadn’t realized how LONG my comment was…like a whole POST, sorry !:-) You might say today that states can pass laws against polygamy….50 years ago, who’d have thought we’d pass laws saying two men or two women can’t marry but the Supreme Court would over rule it?
    Sophia Loren? You have great taste!!! I like that you appear to mostly like brunettes 🙂

  8. Z: ” I like that you appear to mostly like brunettes”

    So, you caught that, huh?

    Feel free to make a multi page comment if you want.

  9. I vote for business freedom. I see no difference between no shoes and no homosexuals. Capitalism takes care of itself. The public votes with their wallet on whether they will do business with a business that does not cater to gay weddings. Let the economics take care of it.

  10. Kid: This is the same dialog I had with myself 😉 If you have the freedom to deny shirts and shoes; homosexuals; other races; or just anything you want that is a real social problem. Why should I, as a fat person, be discriminated against at an ice cream parlor that might want to exclude fat people? Or black people? Or Democrats? OK, I can see the ban on Democrats.

    This is one of those slippery slopes. As a business person in the business of serving the public, you need to serve anyone that is willing to pay for your services. However, I believe you can reserve the right to CONTRACT your services to whomever you wish. If you are a housing contractor, you should be able to pick and choose your clients.

    Thanks for your comment.

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