CNN’s Sally Kohn runs a small private for-profit business.
Indiana Bob runs a small private for-profit business.
Sally offers a product to the public as a speaker. Her product is inspirational speeches that conform to her worldview.
Bob offers a product to the public as a baker. His product is specialized wedding cakes that celebrate the holy union of marriage.
Sally is a very nice, very smart, very likable gay progressive.
Bob is a very nice, very smart, very likable practicing Muslim.
Sally will tell you she was born a lesbian.
Bob will tell you he was born a Muslim.
Sally’s speech is protected from the government by the First Amendment.
Bob’s religious faith is protected from the government by the very same First Amendment.
Because her speech is protected by the First Amendment, Sally cannot be forced by the government to alter her product — her speech — into something that violates her beliefs and conscience.
Although Bob’s religious practices and beliefs are protected by the same First Amendment, Sally is demanding the government force Bob into altering his product — a wedding cake — into something that violates Bob’s beliefs and conscience: a same-sex wedding cake.
Sally believes it is unconstitutional for the government to force her to alter her business product (inspirational speeches) in a way that violates her beliefs and her First Amendment rights.
Nevertheless, Sally also believes that freedom and equality demand the government force Bob to craft and deliver his business product (wedding cakes) in a way that violates his beliefs and First Amendment rights.
Because her speech is protected by the First Amendment, even though she offers her services to the public, the government cannot force Sally to serve everyone. For example, on her website, Sally offers to deliver “an inspiring tingle-in-your-toes speech,” but she could not be forced by the government and would not agree to offer that service to inspire or tingle anyone’s toes at a meeting of anti-abortion activists.
Nevertheless, Sally believes the product she serves the public (inspirational speeches) is more equal than the business product Bob serves the public (wedding cakes).
Thanks to her First Amendment protections, Sally does not believe she can be forced by the government to serve all of the public with her inspirational speeches.
Nevertheless, Sally believes Bob should be forced by the government to serve all of the public.
Sally believes her First Amendment speech rights are protected even when that right is turned into a for-profit business product.
Sally does not believe Bob’s First Amendment religious rights are protected when that right is turned into a for-profit business product.
Although she offers her product to the public, Bob would never dream of asking Sally to violate her First Amendment rights, her beliefs or her conscience.
Nevertheless, Sally would see the government punish Bob and the public shame Bob if he refused to violate his own First Amendment rights, his beliefs and his conscience.
Bob would never dream of trampling Sally’s First Amendment rights.
Sally wants the government to trample Bob’s First Amendment rights.
Breitbart News reached out to Sally Kohn for comment. Always a great sport, she told us…
“Any business can already discriminate in any way it sees fit — as long as it’s not discriminating on the basis of a protected identity. Period. So, for instance, a restaurant can say “no shirt, no shoes, no service” or even “no people wearing blue shirts” as long as the reasoning or motivation isn’t a protected identity. So you can’t deny service based or race or religion. That’s the law.”
Kohn adds that she “wants gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans to have that protected legal status — which they do under the laws in some states, but not most, and not at the federal level.”
She added, “I can’t refuse to give a speech to a group based on religion for instance. That would be illegal (and immoral). But I can refuse to give a speech based on a group’s viewpoints on an issue. Because for instance, whether you’re against *or* for abortion is NOT a legally protected class of identity.”
“Even still, incidentally, under my understanding of the law, if the Westboro Baptist Church wanted to come to my bakery and buy the same cake I sell everyone else, I’d have to sell them one. BUT I wouldn’t have to write “God Hates Fags” on it, just like I wouldn’t have to write a curse word on it if I didn’t want to. Because that’s not form of discrimination we legally/constitutionally protect against.”
“Free speech by the way doesn’t legally apply here because the government isn’t compelling any speech.”
“In sum, if you run a bakery and don’t want to follow the laws of our country and serve all people equally, get out of the bakery business. Certainly no one is forcing you to run a bakery.”
When I asked if like her right to not write “God Hates Fags” on the cake if a Christian baker was protected from the act of adding a same sex couple figurine and the name of the same-sex couple to the cake, she said she didn’t want to go into that.
“I don’t want to quote law,” Sally said, “but I’d be happy to refer you to a Constitutional lawyer who could explain this better than I could.”
Breitbart News politely declined the offer.
Laws can be unjust.
This is an ethical argument about who keeps and loses their First Amendment rights once that right becomes a for-profit business product.
This is about an American social compact that is supposed to go beyond the law when it comes to respecting one another’s sincerely held beliefs.
It is also about equal protection under the law — in this case the very first Amendment.
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC