Penn Jillette Can’t Have His Gay Wedding Cake and Eat It Too

Should a gay baker be forced to bake cakes for someone like J.B. Stoner? Of course not, and the freedom to choose who you do business with is not limited to sexual orientation. Should an African-American baker be forced to bake cakes for a Stormfront “White Pride Worldwide” convention? Should a Jewish florist be forced to sell arrangements to David Duke for his next KKK gathering?

There is a difference between refusing service to bigoted hatemongers and refusing service to blacks, Jews, and gays.

If you own a business that uses public utilities and public infrastructure, then it participates in a system where it receives benefit from public money and also gives some of its money to the public. And so the public, via the government it elects, is permitted to enforce codes of conduct through laws.

We have lots of laws on the books that prescribe discrimination against people based on race and religion and other factors. That is because the people, though their representative government, believe that such behavior is contrary to the public good.

In the USA you can still form a private organization that is free to discriminate in any way it likes. It can even be a business at its core. It just has to be a de facto private club and not a public business. That's how the Boy Scouts still get away with being anti-gay, and how the Augusta National and the Moose Lodge can get away with not allowing women. If you want to open the "Straight People Only Baker Society", you can probably do so -- but not in the same way as you would operate a business with a public storefront.

(I am aware of the Women of the Moose -- that just means there are two organizations that discriminate by sex.)

So why do conservatives and libertarians keep trying to argue that discrimination based on race, religion, and sexuality is somehow the same thing as being intolerant of those who make hate speech? Ultimately, the issue is what is best for us all. And a lot of us think it's perfectly justifiable to refuse service to the Klan but not to gay people, and don't see both refusals as remotely in the same league.

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