In his June 30 Washington Forum commentary, “A baker’s business — and artistic freedom — on the line,” Jim Campbell argued that if the Supreme Court finds against cake-shop owner Jack Phillips, who refused some services to a gay couple, it will infringe on Mr. Phillips’s artistic freedom. I disagree.
Mr. Phillips is free to make whatever cakes he pleases. The only freedom in question is his freedom to discriminate when it comes to choosing customers of a business serving the public. Nor is Mr. Phillips’s religious freedom infringed. No one will force him to bake for weddings that offend his religious sensibilities. The only right he doesn’t have is the right to deny this service to some but not to all. Honoring his religious beliefs may well mean giving up significant income, much as, say, refusing to work on the Sabbath does for many of us. It’s a choice people make all the time.
Mr. Campbell posited that if Mr. Phillips loses his case, a black woodworker could be compelled to fashion a cross for a Ku Klux Klan rally. I agree. Said woodworker would have to choose to make crosses for all comers or make no crosses at all and, I hope, thank his lucky stars that he lives in a nation that, finally, upholds equality under the law.
Keith Selbo, Warrenton
Jim Campbell defended a baker’s right to refuse service to a gay couple based on the baker’s religious beliefs. Using Mr. Campbell’s argument, a white supremacist could deny service to an African American couple based on his religious beliefs, and we all agree that would be heinous. So why is it okay to discriminate against the gay community? If you are running a commercial business, you provide service to any customer who walks in your door, and you do not withhold service based on the customer’s color, sex or orientation.
Let’s hope the Supreme Court sees it the same way.
Peter Keeble, Great Falls
As a liberal Democrat, I support marriage equality and same-sex couples when I believe they are being discriminated against. But, in the case of baker Jack Phillips declining to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding, I’m with Mr. Phillips. He was willing to sell the same-sex couple any item available in his store, but he refused to create a custom cake.
If your business provides off-the-shelf items for sale to the public, you should not be able to prohibit their sale to a willing customer. However, I believe merchants should be able to decline doing custom work without the need to provide a reason for declining.
Jim Beller, Rockville