The Daily Evergreen

Right to discriminate

MARISSA MARARAC | Evergreen columnist

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In this day and age, it is getting harder to accommodate every person’s sense of equality.

Aside from Oregon voting on whether to become the 18th state to allow same-sex marriage, Oregon may also vote on whether the state should let companies have the option to refuse to work those weddings. The refusal is due to companies’ and owners’ religious beliefs, according to Reuters.

People are entitled to their own opinions on religion and sexuality, and those opinions should be able to cross over to businesses by the owners.

The Protect Religious Freedom Initiative serves to protect Oregon business owners from having to participate in same-sex ceremonies, as stated by the Oregon Family Council.

The Initiative does not allow businesses to deny someone all services. It will only exempt a person from having to support same-sex ceremonies in violation of deeply held religious beliefs, as stated in section one of the initiative.

The owners of the companies are not saying that they will not serve to lesbians or gays at all. They only want the option to stand for their personal opinion to say no to participation in same-sex weddings.

One instance where this issue arose was at a bakery in Salem, Ore., last year.

In the case of the Sweet Cakes bakery, owners Melissa and Aaron Klein refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple because it went against their religious beliefs, according to an article by KATU.  

The company was sued and the state labor department found “substantial evidence and unlawful discrimination” because private businesses are not allowed to discriminate people based on their sexuality.

It is right to have a law that prohibits discrimination toward anyone. However, it would also be acceptable to give business owners the right to not participate, and therefore not serve, at or for same-sex weddings if it goes against the owners’ religion. The bakery did not say that they would not make cakes for the customer. They could make a cake for any occasion, as long as it’s not one for a same-sex marriage ceremony.

A growing trend shows that business owners with religious beliefs are being forced to compromise their individual conscience rights and serve those same-sex weddings or face penalties levied upon them by the state, according to the initiative.

Having these consequences given to business owners violates their First Amendment right, freedom of religion. It would be taking away the right for those owners to express what they’ve come to know as true.

Another instance that happened regarding a refusal to be associated with a same-sex wedding was in Richland, Wash.  

In March 2013, floral shop Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts refused to sell flowers to a longtime customer for his same-sex wedding because of religious reasons, according to ABC News. The florist, Barronelle Stutzman, was looking at being fined $2,000.

Clearly since he was a longtime customer, the refusal to serve him was not the problem, only the refusal to service him in participation of the wedding. 

In both of these instances the owners’ First Amendment freedom of religion was broken because they could not express how they felt about same-sex marriages.  

Everyone is entitled to personal opinions and beliefs, and everyone should be free to express those beliefs. 

If a same-sex couple wishes to be married, then they should have the same right as any other couple to do so.

This initiative is not to discriminate those who are involved or wanting a same-sex marriage, it is to protect the rights of those business owners who wish to not go against what they believe in. 

Marissa Mararac is a junior communication major from Tacoma. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.

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