This article was originally published at www.DanielPakkala.com

In my home state of Georgia, Governor Nathan Deal is facing quite the vexing decision. House Bill 757 has been passed through the Georgia Legislature and now awaits the Governor’s decision. Dubbed the ‘religious liberty’ bill, it would allow for religious officials to refuse to conduct marriage ceremonies if it violates their free exercise of religion. However, Governor Deal’s pressure stems from the growing presence of the film industry here in Georgia. Because of Georgia’s low taxes, Georgia has been an attractive spot for big names in the film industry like Disney, AMC, and Starz. However, these big names, along with Fox and the NFL (the latter which has an eye on Atlanta to host a future Super Bowl), have all come out defiantly against the bill — even threatening to leave Georgia and take their business elsewhere if the bill gets signed into law.

I firmly believe anyone of any sexual orientation has the same natural rights as anyone else. A gay couple’s love, commitment, and partnership is no different to that of anyone else’s. But the fundamental question that must be answered by any who disagrees with me is the following: do you have the right to force someone else to labor for you? I say no.

An example to provide context to my position:

Suppose I start a bar. Except at my bar, the only people allowed in are individuals between the ages of 21 and 30. If you’re older than 30, you can’t come in. Period. I do this because I want to create a young and vibrant atmosphere. I want my bar to be known for only having young people in it. The law however says an individual over the age of 21 can drink, so is my bar denying people over the age of 30 their right to drink? Of course not. They can go on down to the next bar who will gladly take their business.

If you reject this conclusion, then you have to justify why anyone has the right to someone else’s services. After all, you have a right to an attorney, but does that mean you can compulse any attorney you want into representing you? You have the right to bear arms, but does that mean anyone selling guns must sell you one? (I assume my friends on the left will be much more hesitant to accept that one.) Taking this issue and applying it logically to other examples exposes the cognitive dissonance that exists towards those who say religious officials do not have the right to refuse to wed a gay couple.

Who owns the religious official’s services?

Who owns the religious official’s services to conduct a religious ceremony other than that very person himself? If we’re all born with the same rights, as the argument goes in favor of the pro-gay marriage crowd, of which I am a part of, how does that not also get applied to the religious official who believes that it is wrong? Does he not also have rights? Is his freedom of religion not also protected? Is that freedom lesser? How can one right be more important than another?

To me, this issue is very simple and can be sorted out peacefully — a religious official doesn’t want to conduct a marriage ceremony for you? A baker doesn’t want to bake a cake for you? A bartender doesn’t want to serve you a drink? Go somewhere else. There are hundreds, if not thousands, who are willing to take your business and do it with a smile. (Why would you want to compulse someone into doing something for you that he doesn’t want to do to begin with?)

I stand on the side of the religious official who does not want to perform a ceremony, not because I agree with him — I don’t — but because I do not believe in aggression against peaceful individuals, and I do not believe it is “freedom” when its exercise comes at the cost of someone else’s rights.

Everything the government does, it must accomplish with the use or threat of force. Belligerent and intolerant is not the one who peacefully declines to give his services, but the one who calls upon force to seize them.

The free market is on the side of the gay couple.

We live in an age where a majority of the American population supports gay marriage, and the trend is only going upward. Fortunately, the free market is the most responsive venue to changes in public opinion like this. It is also a place where differences can be settled peacefully, without the need of the state’s coercive force. If a baker doesn’t want to bake a cake for a gay couple, then his competitor now has an advantage over him. If the rest of us make consumer decisions based on our politics, we may think twice about giving our market endorsement to an establishment that doesn’t align with our beliefs. Extrapolate this idea to the millions of other market actors, yourself, the reader, included, and you get a society that rewards with marketshare those that serve the gay and the hetero couple equally. Eventually, the establishments that refuse to serve gay couples close down after suffering tremendous losses in marketshare to their pro-gay competitors. Or maybe they become so small that they becomes negligible.

The anti gay marriage religious official doesn’t have to have his rights stripped away from him. Leave him his freedom and his beliefs. We don’t have to agree with them. We may even think they’re backwards and stupid. But they’re his nonetheless, and his right to have and exercise them in peace are no different than yours.

Government and its use of force is never the answer. We must reject violence whenever there is a peaceful alternative.

 

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