On Television: Removing Our Right To Say No

I was on television with Chris Berg last night on Valley News Live’s 6:30 Point of View program and, not surprisingly given the debate going on both here in North Dakota over SB2279 and nationally over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana, we talked about discrimination and gay rights.

At this point I’m sure you all have heard the arguments, but let me see if I can frame this in a way to help people understand that support for laws like the RFRA, and opposition to laws like SB2279, isn’t necessarily coming from bigots.

Consider this: When a person – man or woman – doesn’t want to have sex, we recognize that no means no. We consider any effort to force your way past that no to be heinous and criminal.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]In fact, I suspect that a large number of the people who support laws outlawing discrimination and compelling service are opposed to the military draft which compels the service of young men in the military. I wonder how they square that logic?[/mks_pullquote]

It doesn’t matter what the motivations are for declining sex. Maybe it’s for religious reasons. Maybe it’s a racial thing. Maybe the person being asked for sex is a homosexual and doesn’t want to have straight sex. Or maybe they just don’t feel like having sex. It doesn’t matter, because no means no. And sex isn’t the only area where we respect the right of a person to say no. We do not force people to work, even if they’d be better off with a job. We do not force people to exercise, even if they need to.

In fact, I suspect that a large number of the people who support laws outlawing discrimination and compelling service are opposed to the military draft which compels the service of young men in the military. I wonder how they square that logic?

But back to the issue at hand, why do we think it’s ok to trample on a person’s right to say no when it comes to engaging in commerce?

The oft-cited example of this sort of policy at work are the Christian bakers who don’t wish to bake cakes for homosexual weddings. They are being forced to do so by state laws, or face repercussions in the form of fines and worse. These people are being told that they do not have the right to say no.

In what world is that justice? We do not force people to have sex, no matter what their reason for declining sex, because we recognize that nobody has a right to demand sex from another person. No means no. Yet we have laws today in many states – not to mention SB2279 before the state House here in North Dakota – which basically outlaws “no” for certain protected classes.

Because we do have the right to demand another person’s unwilling service to bake a cake? Or take wedding photographs? Or cook a meal?

It shouldn’t matter why a given person might refuse to do these things. The only thing that should matter, as far as the law is concerned, is that they have the right to say no.

I get that the decision not to serve homosexuals is extremely offensive to many people. It’s extremely offensive to me, and I would gladly boycott any business making that decision. But I think we cross a line when we say, with force of law, that people are not even allowed to make that decision.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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