Are Christians Legally Required to Bake Gay Wedding Cakes?

What Would You Say?

You’re in a conversation about marriage and religious freedom and someone says, “Discrimination is illegal. It doesn’t matter if you oppose same-sex marriage, you have to bake the cake.” What would you say? Even before the Supreme Court redefined marriage, some states and cities passed laws making sexual orientation a protected class. Today, some believe these laws require florists, bakers, and photographers to participate in same-sex weddings. Is this true? Now that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, does that mean wedding businesses must participate in same-sex weddings? In most places, the answer is no. And here are three reasons why. Declining to serve a gay wedding is different than refusing to serve gay people. Whether it’s flowers, photography, or cakes, there is a difference between a business that says, “I won’t serve you under any circumstances” and one that says, “I’m happy to serve you, but I can’t provide the service you’re requesting to anyone.” Non-discrimination laws were created to protect people not events. They require businesses to serve everyone, but they do not require businesses to do anything that might be requested. We all have different convictions and boundaries. We don’t have to understand why someone feels the way they do in order to respect it. Just societies don’t force people to do or say things that violate their beliefs just because their beliefs might be unpopular. Which leads to the second point. The First Amendment protects unpopular beliefs. Popular beliefs don’t need protection. Same-sex marriage was once a very unpopular, but things have changed. Does that mean the freedom to express support for same-sex marriage has changed as well? No. Because the First Amendment protects our right to say and do things that are unpopular. We don’t need legal protection to sayc “tacos are wonderful” because we all agree, tacos are wonderful. We need the First Amendment to protect our right to say things others will be offended by. We all benefit when all of us are free to disagreement but none of are afraid of being punished for it. After all, if you can force someone to do something they don’t want to do, eventually that power will be used to make you do something you don’t want to do. Should a progressive web designer be forced to create a website for the National Rifle Association? Should a pro-life contractor be compelled to build an abortion clinic for Planned Parenthood? Should an African American caterer be required to serve food at a KKK gathering? Of course not. In the same way, forcing someone to participate in a wedding they find morally objectionable is a violation of who we are as a country and in most cases, the courts agree. Which leads to the third point. Courts are protecting religious freedom While these cases are not over, courts are overwhelmingly making decisions that favor religious freedom and disfavor government coercion. Courts have held that nuns cannot be forced pay for birth control; that print shops cannot be forced to print messages on a T-Shirt they disagree with; that firemen cannot fired from their jobs because of what they believe about marriage, and that chaplains cannot be fired for stating the Christian position on sexuality. While some courts have said businesses must participate in same-sex weddings, the United States Supreme Court has said otherwise. There is likely more to come. But in the meantime, while the lawyer are arguing, let’s agree on one thing; we are and should be free to say “no” when we feel we must. So next time someone says the law requires you have to do things that violate your conscience, remember these three things. Declining to serve a gay wedding is different than refusing to serve gay people. The First Amendment protects unpopular beliefs. Popular beliefs don’t need protection. Courts are protecting religious freedom For What Would You Say, I’m Joseph Backholm Disclaimer: This video should not be construed as legal advice. If you have a specific question about a situation in your business, you should consult a lawyer who is familiar with the laws in your area. Several organizations offer free legal advice to those whose religious freedom is being threatned including the Alliance Defending Freedom, First Liberty, and the Beckett Fund. We encourage you to contact them if you have questions.