It is difficult to work up much sympathy for Memories Pizza, the Indiana pizza place that rushed to be known as the first business to announce that it plans on refusing to serve gay customers under the cover of Indiana’s new and poorly thought-out religious freedom law. Oh, I agree that it was thoughtful of the owners to help show that the law, regardless of the neutral words used, was intended to be a rallying point for anti-gay advocates who want to fight back against what they see as a frightening cultural shift that they don’t understand and can’t accept, but the owners are still, to be blunt, morons.
Announcing that the law would allow them to refuse to cater a gay wedding, they injected their biases into a debate they were neither legally, ethically, morally or intellectually equipped to participate in. Crystal O’Connor, whose family owns the small-town pizzeria, spouted off that “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” as the national debate over the law was heating up. Well, no, Crystal, you wouldn’t have to, and the law probably wouldn’t protect you if you did. Baking pizza is not the exercise of religion, and nothing in the Bible says “Thou shalt not send pizza to the reception of a wedding you disapprove of.”
I just heard one of the law’s supporters from a “family values” group that spends much of its time, words and money attacking homosexuality swear to Chris Cuomo on CNN that the law has nothing whatsoever to do with Indiana embracing anti-gay bigots (and tricking them into thinking that stunts like Crystal’s are acceptable). “It’s about conscience, ” he intoned, without giggling. But the law says nothing about conscience either.It prevents the government from substantially burdening the exercise of religion. Catering an event, religious or not, is not a religious act, nor is a wedding reception a religious ceremony. It is no more legitimate to say that your conscience forbids you from selling pizza to strangers than it is to say that your conscience forbids you from letting a transsexual into your cab. O’Connor, not surprisingly, doesn’t comprehend the law. Continue reading