I have heard over and over again that the gay couple in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case are fighting for their “rights.” Curiously, nobody has been able to explain which rights, exactly.
What right did Jack Phillips violate by declining to decorate a wedding cake? Was it their right to cake? Well, even if such a right existed — it doesn’t but I wish it did because I love cake — he still would not have infringed upon it. He was willing to sell them any cake in the store. The only thing he couldn’t do, in good conscience, was decorate the cake to advance a message he finds morally objectionable.
What right, then? Their right to a custom-decorated cake? Now we’re getting strangely specific, aren’t we? But nobody is claiming that everyone has a right to custom designed dessert dishes. There seems to be a wide agreement that a Jewish baker is within his rights to decline to make a cake for a Nazi rally, and a black baker would be similarly justified in not designing a special cake to commemorate the next Klan meeting. In fact, cake designers have all sorts of parameters determining the kinds of cakes they will and won’t make, and nobody has ever had a problem with it. Clearly there is no right to cake, nor a right to a designed cake.
So, what right was infringed upon? Where is this right? Can someone point to it? Was it their right to be served? It’s true that we do generally have that right in modern America, though I don’t think we should and I certainly don’t think the Founders ever intended that we would. A business owner ought to be able to turn away anyone, at any time, for any reason. If it’s a bad or unkind reason, let the market punish him for it.
But that’s not the way things work in our “free” country. A person does, usually, basically, according to our modern laws, have the right to be served by an establishment that’s open to the public. Now here’s the good news: the gay couple were served. They were allowed to enter the store and they were allowed to purchase any item they desired. They could have walked right in and shouted, “We’re gay and we’re buying cookies!” And nobody would have stopped them from buying the cookies. Or cake. Or whatever they wanted. Phillips did not refuse to serve them. Rather, he refused to serve an event.
Ah. So that’s the right? They have a right to compel someone to provide a service, or create a product, for any event they’re planning? But wait. Nobody even pretends that this is a universal right. Again, it is understood that a Jew cannot be conscripted to serve a Nazi rally, a black person cannot be forced to serve a Klan meeting, a Muslim cannot be compelled to serve a conference of pork enthusiasts, a gay man cannot be told that he must create special cupcakes to be enjoyed at the next Westboro Baptist demonstration.
We see that every “right” so far suggested does not, and cannot, exist. But then comes the qualifier, and this appears to be the entire legal argument against Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop: you do not have these rights — unless you’re gay. The gay lobby is not seeking equal protection under the law. They already have it and then some. What they want are special protections.
This is not a matter of fundamental human rights, and they know it. Instead, they’ve lumped it into that vague, ever-changing and expanding category called “gay rights.” But there is no such thing. You are not bequeathed some unique set of rights based on your sexual proclivities. If the rest of us do not have the right to force a baker to make a custom designed cake for an event that he finds personally objectionable, neither do you.
There are no “gay rights,” “women’s rights,” “trans rights,” etc. Rights do not come in different styles and flavors. There are human rights, and only human rights, and we all share them. Free speech and freedom of religion are human rights. The right to custom cakes is a “gay right,” which is to say it is a non-existent, specialized right, meant to put one group above another. So, in this conflict between the two, “gay rights” must lose. It’s as simple as that.