Videographers Fight State Over Right to Decline Service to Gay Couples

P. Gardner Goldsmith | October 24, 2018
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How long will this go on?

Americans have seen Hobby Lobby fight in the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) to assert the right to not comply with a federal Obamacare mandate that the “closely held” corporation buy health insurance covering contraceptives and abortifascients.

Americans have witnessed the sad spectacle of the folks behind the Colorado-based Masterpiece Cakeshop fight in the SCOTUS so they could deny service to a gay couple who demanded the company engage accept pay to provide them with a wedding cake.

Now, Carl and Angel Larsen, and their small film company, Telescope Media Group, have gone to the 8th Federal Circuit Court to appeal a 2017 US District Court ruling that they must enter into an exchange of money for services, according to the mandate of the Minnesota government. The New American’s Dave Bohon offers this on the case:

(I)n 2016 the Larsens filed a lawsuit against Minnesota’s human rights ordinance, which would require them to go against their Christian convictions and serve same-sex couples who ask them to film their wedding ceremonies… In 2017 U.S. District Judge John Tunheim dismissed the lawsuit, claiming that the couple’s plan to post a notice on their company website that they would not serve same-sex weddings was “akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign” in a business, and ruling that their intent would amount to unconstitutional discrimination against homosexuals.

At first blush, some might think, “How dare those business people discriminate?” Indeed, they might agree with District Judge Johnny T.

Or they might realize that all of these cases are drawn from the same cloth, a smothering blanket that, since 1964, has been thrown over private enterprise and the freedom of association for everyone who engages in any kind of market transaction.

Hidden within some of the positive provisions of the federal Johnson-Era act (provisions that made sure minorities were not prevented by states from voting, for example) was what is known as the “Public Accommodations” section of the law. It, along with a 1946 SCOTUS ruling in Marsh v. Alabama essentially pushed what is private property into the umbrella of “public property”.

Of course, even the most basic civics class should distinguish for students the difference between that which is “public” – i.e. it is operated by the government and gets tax money showered on it – and “private” – that which is not supported by tax cash.

By magically “determining” that all places that are “open to the public” are de jure (by law) “public” spaces, the federal government has destroyed the right of free association, for only if one can deny association is one truly capable of employing his freedom to associate.

If one enters the dating market, does one have to accept every proposition from every suitor?

Where does it stop?

Today, many collectivists direct great ire and umbrage at those who might prefer to do business with one person over another. But, as economist Walter Williams has noted, he “discriminated” against many women when he chose one women to whom he would propose marriage.

Should people be forced to do work for others, forced by government law from Lyndon Johnson’s corrupt administration? Forced into a form of servitude, even though they are receiving compensation?

Should the government dictate that a business person never decline anyone, even someone who cannot pay for the services, because that would be “economic discrimination”?

How about a buyer? Should a buyer be forced to buy from anyone?

The new case before the 8th Circuit is prima facie evidence that the US economy is not free, that it is, in fact, a fascist economy where most businesses are dictated to by the state, even as people believe they are privately owned.

As further evidence of this, we can turn to the toweringly ignorant, politically obnoxious statement of the Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner, Kevin Lindsey who said this of their persecution of a couple who just want to shoot films for customers with whom they choose to do business:

For us it is truly about conduct. Everyone should have the right to be protected under the law when they buy goods and services.

Congratulations, Minnesota politicians, you have working for you a man who doesn’t even know that the 14th Amendment’s “Equal Protection Clause” applies only to the laws states pass to protect people from aggressive acts against others.

Denying service or association to someone is not an aggressive action.

In fact, the state is engaging in aggressive action by trying to force the Larsen’s to offer services to those the state commands. If the Larsen’s don’t comply, they will be fined up to $25,000, plus a criminal penalty of $1,000 and possible jail time of 90 days.

Is that a free market? Is that freedom at all?

Look, most Americans dislike cruel discrimination based on racial or other kinds of unjust prejudices. And if that is the case, why can’t we allow people to show us how they feel about potential customers, and we can adjust our commerce accordingly?

Unless, as I noted, the government wants to force customers to do business with others.

In that case, the government could force people to have to buy from neo-Nazis if the skinheads are the minority.

It’s absurd. But so is the Public Accommodations Section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and very few people are bothering to notice that point as cases like this wind their way through the courts.