Whatever Happened To The Freedom Of Association?

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The North Dakota legislature is considering SB2252 which would add gays to the list of classes protected from discrimination under state law. If the law passes, it would be illegal for employers, lenders and landlords to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Religious organizations, however, get an exemption. Gay activists are testifying in favor of the bill, as is the Chamber of Commerce which is strange because you’d think that organization would want to stand up for the right of businesses to make these choices.

The problem I have with these laws is that I don’t think the government ought to be taking away our right to choose who we want to associate with. Maybe this is just a quaint notion from a by-gone age, but I happen to believe that the freedom of association not only means that you’re to associate with whoever you want, you’re also free to choose who you don’t want to associate with.

In fact, it is this very right to association that gays are fond of invoking when they argue for their right to marriage. I believe gay marriage should be legal because I think consenting adults ought to be able to associate themselves with one another in whatever fashion they find agreeable. But if we’re to expect the right of free association for gays when it comes to marraige, why can’t we respect that same right of free association for businesses or individuals who might not want to associate with gays?

That’s not an attitude I would agree with, I would personally boycott any business or organization discriminating against gay, but I’m not in the supporting limits on choices simply because I disagree with them. Because otherwise what we’re saying is that we have freedom of association, except for certain associations mandated by law.

I think discrimination against gays is cruel, but I also get a chill down my spine when I read stories like this one about a baker under investigation by the government for refusing to make a cake for a gay wedding.

I think people ought to be free to make choices about their associations, even when their choices might be motivated by bigotry and hatred.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • nimrod

    A baker can refuse service to anyone except if they are in one of the new privileged classes of citizens. If you are heterosexual and overly demanding he can refuse service, but if you are homosexual and overly demanding he has to put up with it.

    • SusanBeehler

      I would think any business owner would be savvy enough to figure out how to decline conducting business with anyone. Obviously something was said which led them the customer to believe it was because of sexual orientation. Just like an employer in our state doesn’t have to give a reason for letting someone go, but if you say you are fired the minute you find out they are a “Jew” “Catholic” or “Mormon”, than you are probably not too bright as an employer and business owner.

  • Tim Heise

    Question: As a employer or landlord don’t you lose some of your freedoms by entering into the “public” sphere?

    • sbark

      Gotta show me that clause in the Bill of Rights or the Constitution……….
      but of course, those documents are trash, outdated, and as Justice Ginsberg states—not to be used as an example for an emerging 3rd world nation.
      ……but the USA, which is headed for 3rd world status…..just has to get rid of those documents and “join the village”

  • sbark

    ………the march toward gay affirmation via Govt action continues.
    Are LBGT’s then “normal” after the Govt says they are a special group?

  • wj

    Don’t be fooled by the claims. The bill does not have a religious exemption. The religious exemption thrown in the bill does not exempt churches and religious organizations from claims of sexual orientation discrimination. It only provides an exemption from claims of religious discrimination.

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    What’s the legal standard that determines “orientation?” Is it listed on drivers’ licenses?

  • ND Observer

    The baker can deny service to customers for bad credit, dishonesty, fraud, criminal activity, hostility, etc. etc. Business, like utility companies who have a geographic monopoly should be prevented from discrimination against a “class” of people so they cannot be denied access to products and services like power, water, electricity, phone, etc. But there are certainly options to buy wedding cakes. SB2252 is necessary to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public services. Let us not diminish the importance of denying people the right to housing, jobs and essential services to a wedding cake.

    • Jeremiah Glosenger

      SB2252 does not allow the baker, whose sincerely held religious belief strongly denounces such activity as this so-called “marriage”, the opportunity to be true to his religious convictions. The bill requires that he not refuse any form of service that he offers to the public at large based upon sexual orientation. There is no protection for individual religious liberty and numerous lawsuits flow from bills like this when they are passed. They actually shop around to find someone who refuses to recognize and accept their concept of “marriage.” ND law already protects ALL people from discrimination in employment based upon any lawful activity that they engage in outside of work–including homosexual activity. SB2252 only exempts the non-profit entities that are legally registered religious organizations–not the people in the pews. Note the text: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, OR
      prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
      speech” (emphasis added). This law only exempts the establishment of religion, but NOT the free exercise thereof by the adherents to the religious faith.

    • SusanBeehler

      Yeah like charging you so much property tax you can’t afford to live in your home anymore.

  • Mike

    Social engineering via government policy — a nightmare that fortunately fails historically.

  • Lynn Bergman

    Well said Rob! Next I’ll be forced to hire lazy smokers, those with multiple face piercings, obeese slobs… And the list will go on and on. Terrible message when we need new business startups in America and the freedom to hire those that best promote our business mission.

  • Dirty Harry

    Pandora’s Box is about to be thrown wide open. After setting this precedent, we will have any sexual activity deemed an “orientation”, thus part of a protected class. Those who engage in prostitution, polygamy, incest, pornography, adultery, etc. will simply claim to be “born that way” and we’ll have to accept their statements as fact without a shred of hard scientific evidence. Legislators are dangerously close to the edge of the slippery slope of sexual debauchery.

    The legislature needs to focus on real problems facing our state, not pander to a small group of people who have chosen an alternative lifestyle. Bigger issues, ladies and gentlemen. Bigger issues.

  • Paul

    Why did the link to this thread disappear?

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      It didn’t. It got pushed off the front page by more recent posts. You can find older posts by searching, or via the archives link.

      • Paul

        There are posts on the front page dated February 3rd, while this one is dated February 7th. Just asking.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          The front page is divided into two columns, one for ND-related posts and the other for non-ND posts.

          Lately we’ve been posting more ND-related posts, so those are going off the front page faster.

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