There is always outrage when a Christian baker, florist or photographer refuses to provide their services for a same-sex wedding. Various state anti-discrimination laws have ruined Christian wedding businesses with large fines and legal fees, and also led to many others receiving abuse from LGBT activists.
The issue is now before the US Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a saga which began in 2012 when Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding. They were then sued under Colorado state law which bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public accommodations. The Court is considering if the law violates the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
But businesses being forced to serve people whose beliefs/lifestyles they disagree with would appear to only go one way. Since the election of Trump, his supporters have found themselves the target of abuse and discrimination. Trump supporters are easily recognisable in public, proudly wearing the iconic Make America Great Again caps.
The wearing of this cap got one Trump supporter Greg Piatek, 31 kicked out of New York City bar The Happiest Hour after Trump’s inauguration. After receiving rude service from a bartender they were formally asked to leave by a senior staff member who told them “Anyone who supports Trump — or believes in what you believe — is not welcome here! And you need to leave right now because we won’t serve you!”
Piatek decided to sue the bar in the Manhattan Supreme Court claiming they “offended his sense of being American”. The lawyer for The Happiest Hour argued the eviction was lawful because state and city anti-discrimination laws only protect religion, not political belief. The judge hearing this case agreed and dismissed Piatek’s case proclaiming that “Here the claim that plaintiff was not served and eventually escorted out of the bar because of his perceived support for President Trump is not outrageous conduct”.
This ruling could have ramifications around the United States and could mean that Trump supporters may have to hide their political beliefs for fear of falling afoul of their employer or dealings with other businesses.
A similar ruling was made in Australia in the past week, the Fair Work Ombudsman ruled that a Canberra party business did not break any workplace laws when it ended its relationship with contractor Madeline when she posted a Facebook frame on her profile picture of ‘It’s okay to vote no’ during the Marriage Law Postal Survey. The Ombudsman ruled that political opinion was not a protected attribute under Australian law.
This disparity between discrimination laws based on traditional left and right wing attributes does appear to be a double standard and an example of one rule for some and another for others. Surely our society has to decide if all workplace/business discrimination is wrong or the classical liberal principle of freedom of association should reign supreme.
*Update: A representative for the bar “The Happiest Hour” sent the following statement to The Unshackaled:
“At the Happiest Hour we firmly support womens’ rights, marriage equality, gun control, the environment, and regard for the truth- we don’t discriminate. What’s gotten lost in this story is that the guest wasn’t kicked out because he was wearing a Trump hat- he was asked to leave after being verbally abusive to our staff, which is something we don’t tolerate regardless of who you are. And this is after he spent almost $200- the 20% tip he left would seem to indicate he was satisfied with the service he received.”