Balance needed between religious and civil rights.

The Supreme Court of the U.S. recently heard arguments in a case that weighs anti-discrimination rights against religious rights. The specific question is: Should a Christian web designer who is morally opposed to gay marriage be forced to design a website that celebrates the marriage of a gay couple? Colorado law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation by any business that offers its products or services to the public.  The web designer argues that she is not discriminating against the couple, she is discriminating against the website content being proposed.

Even though I am an atheist and support equal rights for all, I look at this as a case where the web designer is in the minority and the gay couple has the vast majority on their side.  I would guess that 90+% of web designers would be very willing and able to design the website for the gay couple.  Additionally, this is not about purchasing a standard product or service – like renting a room, buying something off of a shelf at a store, hiring a taxi,  or buying food in a restaurant.  It is asking a person to use their creative talent to create something that promotes an act that they are morally opposed to.

If we force relatively small minorities of people to act in opposition to their sincerely held religious beliefs, especially when the person who feels discriminated against has many completely voluntary, peaceful alternatives, then we will be putting ourselves in an unnecessary situation where the minority will feel aggrieved and will fight without end.  In a pluralistic society, which is what we have in the U.S.  we should look first to find voluntary, peaceful solutions to our differences.  The force of government should be used only as a last resort when no other reasonable alternatives exist – which is not the case here.

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