Claire Healey tells us of a bakery in Oregon closed its doors over the Labor Day Weekend because of, as she puts it, “relentless harassment by LGBT activists”. Last January, Melissa and Aaron Klein, the proprietors of Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused to bake a cake for Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, a lesbian couple.
LGBT activists then proceeded to boycott Sweet Cakes by Melissa and threatened to boycott any business that did business with Sweet Cakes by Melissa.
I certainly agree with Claire that the LGBT activists who threatened the lives of the Klein’s children must be condemned. The Kleins also received vicious hate mail. Those responsible for such conduct should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
But with that said, the Kleins decided they would rather close their business than to serve a lesbian couple. Nearly half a century ago, Lester Maddox, the future Governor of Georgia, decided he would rather close Pickricks, his family restaurant in Atlanta, than comply with the Civil Rights Act and serve black people.
Now I’m sure many will find such a comparison odious. It will be argued that equating the struggles of African-Americans and the LGBT community is not on the same moral plane. It will be argued that this isn’t a matter of bigotry. After all, Melissa Klein says she has nothing against lesbians and homosexuals. This is a matter of her morals and beliefs. Yet Lester Maddox said he had nothing against blacks either. It was simply a matter of his morals and beliefs which he was prepared to defend with an ax handle.
And herein lies the difference between Lester Maddox and the Kleins. Maddox was willing to engage in violence against black people who wanted to eat at his restaurant and had the money to pay for the food he was selling. Meanwhile, the Kleins have refrained from such behavior. Nevertheless, the Kleins were wrong to refuse to bake a cake for the Bowman-Cryers.
Claire laments that “Christians can practice their faith, but only if it doesn’t inconvenience LGBT supporters.” However, it is troubling that one’s religious faith is defined by shunning others. It seems to me that refusing to engage in commerce with someone who wants to buy your product and has the means to do so is both contrary to the principles of the free market and an unChristian thing to do.