Although the payment development is not terribly interesting by itself, the broader issue of nondiscrimination legislation is an important one. In this case, it's pretty easy to predict that the commentary will break down along ideological lines. Conservatives will cite this case as further proof of the government's war on Christianity and an attack on religious freedom. Liberals will likely cite it as a victory for gay and lesbian rights. If you agree that discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation is absurd, it may be tempting to join with liberals in celebration on this one. But we must remember that it is always tempting to applaud government coercion when it is used against your opponents. The important question here isn't whether we prefer the views of gay people or the views of religious conservatives. The real question is whether we want government coercion being used to force any private citizen to provide a service against their will.
That's the focus of our piece today: Should we support anti-discrimination laws like the one in this case?
To answer this question, it is useful to consider the logical possibilities of these nondiscrimination laws. Specifically, we're going to concern ourselves only with laws that prevent discrimination by businesses that provide public accommodation (like hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, etc.), and we'll stick with the bakery example for our thought experiments. Also, note that the analysis and opinions expressed here wouldn't apply to the Kim Davis marriage license situation in Kentucky because she was acting as an agent of the government, which can't have religious beliefs, rather than as a private citizen.
So under Oregon law, discrimination is deemed unlawful if it occurs on any of the following protected characteristics, which are known as protected classes. The items in bold are the only ones that are recognized under Federal law:
- Race / color
- National origin
- Sex (includes gender, pregnancy and sexual harassment)
- Sexual orientation
- Retaliation for opposing an unlawful employment practice
- Association with a member of a protected class
- Marital status
- Physical/Mental disability
- Injured workers
- Family relationship
- Men accuse female-focused networking group of gender discrimination, and win.
- Bakery sued for refusing to write (religiously inspired) anti-gay phrases on cake.
- Bakery sued for not catering to the KKK leader's birthday party.