Several recent court cases have resulted in small business owners, who create the wares and services that they sell, being ordered by a judge to sell their custom-made products (e.g., wedding cakes and floral arrangements) or services (e.g., wedding photography) to gay couples despite the small business owners’ refusal to do so based on their religious principles.
If the business in question sold standard, mass-produced items, such as rings, then denying gay couples the right to purchase such things would be clearly discriminatory in the same way that a realtor would be discriminating if they refused to show a house that was for sale to any and all interested potential buyers. The sexual orientation of the buyers should not be an issue in that sort of transaction.
However, the sensitivities of gay couples who claim to feel slighted is not the real issue. The plaintiff in a recent wedding cake related suit, one David Mullins, is reported to have said:
Being denied service by Masterpiece Cakeshop [the defendant] was offensive and dehumanizing especially in the midst of arranging what should be a joyful family celebration.
While vigorously defending the plaintiffs’ claims that they have a right not to be offended, the judge, the ACLU, and others in the LGBT community seem to be ignoring (in this particular case) the rights of the baker who chose not to fulfill the plaintiffs’ request. Most people would immediately think of the 1st Amendment’s protection of freedom of religion, but in truth that is not the most relevant part of the Constitution here. It is the 13th Amendment, Section 1, which should be the controlling part of the legal debate in this situation.