The Norman Transcript

Columns

December 13, 2013

Can discrimination be legal?

NORMAN — Marriage between members of the same sex, a once radical idea, is increasingly accepted even where it hasn’t been enshrined in law. But a significant number of Americans continue to object to gay marriage as a matter of religious conviction. Should they be able to act on their beliefs by refusing to do business with gay couples?

In the vast majority of cases, the answer must be no. The owners of restaurants, hotels and other public accommodations shouldn’t be able to refuse to serve gay couples, married or not, any more than they should be able to deny service to interracial couples or those from different religions. But the situation may be different for providers of services whose work involves the creation or communication of a message.

Elaine Huguenin, a wedding photographer, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling by New Mexico’s highest court that she was required by a state public-accommodations law to take pictures of a female couple’s “commitment ceremony.” Last week, a judge in Colorado ruled against a baker who had refused to supply a gay couple with a cake for their wedding reception.

Although religious scruples were at issue in both cases, the issue is primarily one of free speech. The 1st Amendment protects not only the right to express one’s own views but also a right not to be compelled to convey someone else’s.

In her petition to the Supreme Court, Huguenin warns that the decision against her threatens other “expressive professions” including “marketers, advertisers, publicists and website designers.”

Much as we support same-sex marriage and oppose discrimination, we do see a distinction between businesses that provide the same product or service to all comers and those that collaborate in the creation of a personalized message. We acknowledge that drawing that line will sometimes be difficult.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Sign petition to put shelters in schools

    Every successful grassroots initiative requires a plethora of volunteers who are willing to do whatever it takes, and the movement to build storm shelters in every Oklahoma public school is no different....

    August 2, 2014

  • Congress should close gaps

    Of all of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the most unsettling was that the government was accumulating vast numbers of records about the telephone calls of American citizens. In ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Border obsession overlooks trade

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines recently by ordering 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. This bravado comes at a price: $12 million a month. Perry plans to send the bill the federal government. That’s one way to finance your ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Intercession badly needed in this world

    Yesterday was my feast day, or as the Italians call it, my “onomastico.” Since I live in the United States, it went completely unnoticed. If I lived in Italy, however, I would have been showered with cards and phone calls. That’s because ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Porch leap looked muchbigger as a kid

    It’s no secret that porch designs have changed over the years. Drive through new Norman developments and look at the porches. Most only have room for a potted plant and a spot to drop those UPS packages, no place for a porch swing or ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Keeping the war buried

    International outrage over the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine on July 17 does not appear to have affected either the actions of pro-Russia forces in that country or the material support Russia is offering the rebels. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Gaza’s victims: civilians and peace

    After more than two weeks of fighting between Hamas and Israel, there is no question which side has the upper hand. Thursday’s strike on a U.N.-run school for Palestinian children increased the Palestinian death toll to more than 760. By ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014