Wednesday Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer earned high praise from Democrats across the country for vetoing a bill put forth by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.
The bill, had it passed, would have made it legal for businesses in the Grand Canyon state to refuse service to patrons based on their sexual orientation. It was allegedly inspired by episodes in other states in which florists, photographers and bakers were sued for refusing to cater to same-sex couples. The Arizona bill would have allowed much broader religious exemptions by business owners.
You may recall that I am a proponent of gay rights. I championed New York State’s coming of age in 2011 to allow for gay marriage. I believe that sexuality should be a non-issue when it comes to the government’s dealing with people.
But businesses aren’t government. And business owners should be allowed to discriminate — for any reason they choose.
Yeah. You read that right. I believe that private business owners should be allowed to discriminate against people on the basis of sex, sexuality, religion, color, height, or anything else they so choose.
Many businesses already have signs informing their customers that they may refuse service to any patron for any reason. It’s pretty standard. It’s primarily designed as a catch-all for when they have to kick out an unruly customer - or prohibit a customer who had previously been unruly from entering their establishment again.
So if they can refuse service to anyone for any reason, why can’t they do it for reasons which we find distasteful? Being a prejudiced bigot isn’t against the law. It’s just poor form. Unless you use that prejudice and bigotry as an excuse to break another law.
To those of you who are appalled, let me explain: I’m not saying businesses should ban gays. I’m just saying they should be allowed to. Just like homosexuals may choose to get their flowers or cake or whatever for their weddings from people they agree with politically. Just like there are certain businesses that I won’t spend money at because I don’t like the owners.
Capitalism should be a two-way street. And if I have the right to shop where I want, shop owners should have the right to accept my money or not. Allowing them to be openly discriminatory makes it easier for me to decide where to spend my money.
If I were to go to a florist, grocery store, barber or bubble gum shop, only to be greeted by a sign that says “we reserve the right to discriminate against gays, Asians, and people with red hair,” I know not to spend my money there. Why would I want to assist someone so un-American in fulfilling the American dream? I wouldn’t.
If we not only allow, but force prejudiced bigots to hide their hatred, we run the risk of giving money to people who could, in turn, take that money and use it to promote their agenda of hatred, through campaign contributions to like-minded bigots or some other nefarious means. I’d rather know that the person I was giving my hard-earned money to was using it for good.
So let the bigots be open with their hatred. It will only make it easier for those of us who live in the 21st century to promote our common ideals at the exclusion of those who prefer to live in the dark ages.
Scott Leffler is an open-minded capitalist living in a world full of diminishing closed-minded people. He invites — but would never force — you to follow him on Twitter @scottleffler.