Gay Marriage, Wedding Cakes, and Freedom of Association

Gay Marriage, Wedding Cakes, and Freedom of Association, by Jeff Jacoby. It’s about freedom of association, not gaydom.

And if a caterer turns down a request to prepare the meals for Trump’s inauguration? Or a florist declines to provide the floral arrangements? Or a calligrapher says “thanks but no thanks” to addressing the invitations? I’d back them, too, and for reasons having nothing to do with Trump or Republicans or inaugurations — and everything to do with freedom of association.

The right to discriminate — to choose with whom we will and won’t associate — is vital to human liberty. A dressmaker who can’t say no to a commission to design a gown isn’t free, and it doesn’t matter whether the gown is for a first lady or for the brides in a lesbian wedding. A liberal baker who declines to create a lavish cake decorated with the words “Congratulations, President Trump” is entitled to as much deference as a black baker who declines to decorate a cake with the Confederate flag, or a Muslim baker who declines to decorate a cake with the message “No Muslim Immigrants.”

Freedom of association, like all freedoms, isn’t absolute. Common carriers, innkeepers, and vendors open to the public are barred by law from refusing to serve customers because of their race, religion, or sex, for example. But when it comes to providing personal services to others — whether the service is cleaning homes or singing the national anthem or taking photos — coercion is anathema. It would be ludicrous for the Trump committee to sue Andrea Bocelli or Phoebe Pearl to compel their involvement in the inaugural. It is just as ludicrous, or ought to be, to sue florists and bakers to compel their involvement in weddings they prefer to avoid.

If leftist gays have their way with Christian bakers, then wouldn’t this be fair: