I’ll admit it: I haven’t even read the so-called “religious freedom” law recently passed in Indiana. But just judging by the commentary I’ve read, the general topic is worth discussing: many fear that allowing businesses to freely discriminate would lead to groups like the gay community being pushed to the fringes of society.
First of all, please let us acknowledge that there is a difference between being a bigot and not wanting to be associated with something you find to be morally unsavory. A wedding boutique, for example, may decline business from a gay couple for religious reasons. That does not mean that they hate the couple. If they owned, say, a restaurant, there’s a good chance they would be happy to serve that same couple. It’s like a Muslim deciding that he doesn’t want to sell you some grain because you told him you were going to use it to make beer. You may think it’s a silly reason, but he’s not doing it to try to harm you.
But for the sake of argument, let’s talk about bigoted business owners. Does the sudden existence of a law going to change the way they feel about gays or any other group? Don’t you think that they would figure out a way to not serve the people they despise? Even with anti-discrimination laws in place, there are a plethora of excuses to refuse to do business with someone without revealing the actual reasons.
So in reality, anti-discrimination laws don’t solve the problem of bigotry, they only mask it.
Now look at the consumer side of it. Why would a gay person want to willingly and knowingly do business with someone who hates him? Why not support those businesses that treat everyone with respect and dignity? Personally, I would prefer if every bigoted business (or any person for that matter) hung signs in their windows describing the groups they hate. It would make my decisions on whom to associate with much easier.
But what if that business is the only one of its kind within 200 miles? Well, that sounds like a great opportunity to open up a competing business in the area. Advertising would be easy: “Unlike the alternative, we don’t irrationally hate anyone.”