More than any other topic including the Stars and Bars, public accommodation laws have stirred debate on the Revo. While Nota and I have argued that they play a role, we have struggled to know where to draw the line. Well, I know I have.
I know for certain that laws that prohibit posting signs on diners that say “NO COLOREDS” are justified and appropriate. I do not think, however, that any Christian baker should be required to make a cake with two little brides or two little grooms on top. The bottom line is that I know there is a limiting factor but I don’t know where to draw the line.
Over at Ace of Spades HQ, Gabriel Malor draws the line quite nicely, I think. Public accommodations apply to things like common carriers, inns and pubs. Why? These services are a necessary part of life and, in extreme circumstances, life depends on them. Nobody ever needs a wedding cake to live.
Regular listeners to the podcast know that I go off on public accommodation laws from time to time. I think they cover way too much. Under the English common law, which is where the notion originates, public accommodations were common carriers and inns and pubs. The reason common carriers, inns, and pubs were required to be open to any with the ability to pay is literally because it was matter of life and death. You have to let people have access to food and water, shelter, and travel. But that was it. It wasn’t every business.
The modern trend to declare everything a public accommodation, including membership organizations that any idiot can see are private groups, abandons the notion that people have a right to associate with only those who they care to and also to not associate with those those they don’t. Discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, and sexual orientation is abhorrent. But so is using the government to force groups or businesses to associate with individuals that they would rather not.
Well said and, as far as I am concerned, is a nice, bright line for all to see.