In the WSJ, Roger Pilon offers a libertarian take on businesses that decline to provide services for same-sex weddings.
With nationwide same-sex marriage now in its pocket, the gay-rights movement is turning quickly to the next item on its agenda: outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation. That is where many libertarians who strongly supported same-sex marriage step back for a more measured approach. It is one thing to prevent government officials from discriminating against same-sex couples—that is what equal protection is all about—quite another to force private individuals and organizations into associations they find offensive.
The public-accommodation cases are closer calls. Because they represent their businesses as open to the public, the Kleins and Giffords shouldn’t be able to deny entrance and normal service to gay customers—and neither has done so. If a same-sex couple had walked into that bakery hand-in-hand and ordered bagels, they would have been served without objection. But it is a step further—and an important one—to force religious business owners to participate in a same-sex wedding, to force them to engage in the creative act of planning the event, baking a special-order cake for it, photographing it, and so on.
No one enjoys the sting of discrimination or rejection. But neither does anyone like to be forced into uncomfortable situations, especially those that offend deeply held religious beliefs. In the end, who here is forcing whom? A society that cannot tolerate differing views—and respect the live-and-let-live principle—will not long be free.