Choices: Regarding businesses that object to serving homosexual customers

There’s a long-running debate about businesses discriminating against gay customers and whether or not they should be allowed to. My position is this:

If a shop doesn’t want to serve me because I’m gay, or won’t do things like cater or provide the flowers for a gay wedding, OK. Fine. I can cope; there are other businesses out there that will (and the beauty of our free market system is that we can start such businesses ourselves where it’s likely to be an issue).

BUT there is a condition; those businesses who want to do this must display this information in a prominent place – like in the front window – where it cannot be missed by any prospective customer. It must be displayed on the front page of their website and in a prominent place on their social media presences; again, in such a way that it cannot possibly be overlooked or missed. Consumers should be fully informed about their spending choices – prospective gay customers should be able to not waste their time with a business that won’t serve them. Likewise, straight customers who’d rather not give their money to such businesses should be able to have their spending decisions fully informed. Some businesses may go broke as a result, but that’s too bad – they hate making money, after all.

This system, of ensuring the consumer is fully informed of their spending choices, is called “capitalism”. Let the Invisible Hand of the Market do as it will.

PS (added 31 January 2016); the above does not apply to civil celebrants – they, when performing marriages, are officers of the State. They are public servants. If they object to officiating lawful marriages because of personal or religious reasons, they should resign. When you are a public servant, you leave your personal views at home and execute your duties to the best of your ability – if you can’t do that, find another job.

PPS (9 February 2017); the twitter user @Shoq has let me know that they object to the stance I have in this post – that I want to “normalise discrimination”. I do not; I do have ethical objections to forcing people to act in ways that are contrary to their religious views when the exercise of those views doesn’t cause appreciable harm to others (even if I consider those views to be awful and stupid). As I note above; a Christian refusing to provide me with flowers for my wedding would be a mild inconvenience, not “harm” – and you cannot expect me to believe that the wedding industry is so bereft of businesses that care more about money that I wouldn’t be able to find alternatives. Plus if they do it after I’ve paid for it, that’s breach of contract.

The primary issue I have with compelling Christians, who are acting as private citizens and not public servants, to act against their religious views is that the same rationales can also be used against other groups. The Fathers of Federation put section 116 in because they wanted an American-style protection against the State interfering with religion and religious belief (the success of this is up for debate); compelling Christians, when they aren’t acting as public servants, to do things their religious beliefs are not compatible with seems to me to violate the free exercise clause of s.116 – and it sets a precedent that could be used to, for example, ban Halal food (as a certain Senator from Queensland and her party are very keen on doing).

Note that I view people who, e.g., provide medical care to the community to be a form of public servant here; in this country such things are subsidised by the State after all. Same goes for education; if you want your Christian school to discriminate against same-sex-attracted students, stop pocketing taxpayer funds. Indeed, that extends to all such endeavours; if my taxpayer dollars are paying for it, you don’t get to hide behind your personal private beliefs. Set them aside, or give us our money back. No, I am talking exclusively about private businesses.

And the objective is simple; if you’re going to discriminate against me because of my sexual orientation, I want to know about it. I want my friends and family to know too. I want everyone to know. And then we can give our money, and organise others to give their money, to your competitors.

My stance here is not set in stone; if @Shoq, or someone else, argues me around, there’ll be another update to this post reflecting this.

To be honest, this is a pure thought exercise for me. The issue is done and dusted for us.

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