The Instigator
Con (against)
The Contender
Pro (for)

Religion vs LGBTQ in business

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/25/2018 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 474 times Debate No: 109702
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A look at the instances that businesses have denied sales to the LGBTQ community due to the owners religious beliefs. It is discrimination.

I believe that business policy trumps religion as a business is intended to be a service to the public. Most employers and government jobs will not allow religion to interfere with your job, so how can a business owner feel they should enforce their beliefs on the paying public?


I would like to begin by thanking con for participating in this debate. I hope to have an interesting, reasonable discussion.

I think there are several separate issues at play here because there are two kinds of cases by which we can categorize what is happening. For the sake of simplicity, I will use the wedding cake example, but the principals are not limited to wedding cakes. Here are the most common scenarios:
1) A religious baker refuses to bake a cake that displays a certain pro LGBTQ message that opposes the owner's religious views.
2) A religious baker refuses to bake a cake that goes towards a particular LGBTQ event with which the owner morally disagrees.
3) A religious baker refuses to bake a cake for someone simply because they are a part of the LGBTQ community.

It seems to be (correct me if you disagree) that this debate is not about what the baker ought to do, nor is it about what is currently the law. It seems that this debate is about what ought to be law. Given the above scenarios, which ones do you believe should be outlawed. I personally believe all of them should be allowed.

"A look at the instances that businesses have denied sales to the LGBTQ community due to the owner's religious beliefs. It is discrimination"
Discrimination isn't necessarily an immoral term. For example, I discriminate between different job opportunities in order to choose the best one. I might discriminate between two candidates based on their qualifications. It seems that discrimination is only immoral if it is based on an immutable characteristic. For the sake of argument, I will concede that those of the LGBTQ community have such immutable characteristics. It seems that only scenario 3 falls into this category.

The next question is: should the government prevent people from immoral behavior? I subscribe to the basic libertarian view based on the non-aggression principle. As long as I don't significantly, directly harm (nearly always physically) someone else, I ought to be allowed to do an immoral behavior. The non-aggression principle does not include things such as being offended or being denied something good (like a cake). Therefore, all three scenarios above pass the non-aggression principle. Whether or not you like it when people deny services or goods to people based on religious reasons (or any other reasons) is immaterial if the non-aggression principle is valid. Because of this, I must demonstrate that the non-aggression principle is valid.

It is partially difficult to support the non-aggression principal comes down to different sets of values. If one has a high level of regard for liberty, then one is more likely to support the non-aggression principle. If one does not value liberty, this principle won't be favored. As a conservative, I see liberty as the ends rather than the means. If con does not believe this, then con probably won't accept the non-aggression principle.

Therefore, my support for the non-aggression principle will be a pragmatic approach. In other words, since this principle generally helps society, it ought to be put in law. This can be violated in multiple ways, but I will only discuss the one relevant to this debate. If we were to deny that the government should only outlaw immoral behavior if it directly hurts others, this would actually undermine con's position. The government could potentially decide that things such as being gay are immoral and punish people based on sexual orientation. This would be possible on the negation but not the support of the non-aggression principle. Therefore, the same thing that protects the right of business owners to discriminate also protects the rights of the LGBTQ community. In fact, this freedom works both ways. If an LGBTQ person wanted to discriminate against people based on their religion, the owner would be protected equally.

The last problem with making any of the three scenarios illegal is that doing such would approach slavery. If I were to create my own business, that business is my property (unless I sell or give away ownership of it). This does not change, even if it is out in the public sphere. This is because you do not lose your property when it goes out in public. You don't lose ownership of your shirt for example when you step out of your house. Seeing as the business is my property, I ought to have the legal right to do what I want with my property. Such a business would then provide either a good or a service, both requiring labor. Unless you want to argue for slavery, no one has a right to my labor. If I sell someone something really cool, I am under no obligation to sell something else to his neighbor. Business as a voluntary agreement must be accepted by both parties. If not, it would be slavery or forced labor. To say that a baker must bake a cake for a particular gay couple is to essentially cause forced labor.

All of the above arguments support the idea that all three scenarios should be legal, whether or not you or I like them. You now have the burden of proof both to negate my arguments and support the idea that the above scenarios ought to be illegal. There are further arguments that I will give that will support all but the third and least common scenario.

The first and second scenarios are different because they not only force labor, but participation in a ceremony. If the KKK wanted a baker to make a cake for one of their events, should the baker have the right not to bake that cake if he feels it violates his morality? I doubt you would say that he should not be allowed to refuse such a service from the KKK. What if the KKK member requesting this cake for a racist ceremony happened to be gay? This certainly wouldn't change the fact that the baker ought to be able to refuse. Why should he be able to refuse? Because participating in such a ceremony by baking a cake would violate his conscience. If this is a legitimate reason to refuse to bake a cake for an event, then this remains legitimate if the baker feels that making a cake for a gay wedding is equally immoral.

The first scenario is the most common one today and actually has even further reasons to be allowed. Forcing a baker to make a cake with a particular message would constitute an egregious infringement on freedom of speech. Cakes like art, are generally recognized as both a good and speech. A painter should not be forced to paint a particular message, nor should a baker. For example, if someone asks for a cake saying "kill all Jews" or "I love the KKK", the baker obviously has the legal and moral right to refuse to make such a cake. If a potential customer wants a message saying "Support LGBTQ people" or any pro-homosexuality message, the baker as the free speech right not to make a cake with such a message. Considering this is the most common case of "discrimination" by religious people, it is the most important.

These are the reasons for my position. I would be interested in knowing where we agree and where we differ.
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