In her Feb. 18 column, Sue Lani Madsen disagrees with the state Supreme Court’s decision against a florist who refused service to gay citizens because of a purported violation of the florist’s religious beliefs. Madsen spuriously argues that the florist, like a conscientious objector, should be able to withhold services that would support an invidious purpose such as militarism or same-sex marriage.
In arguing that the florist belongs to a “protected class” as much as does a conscientious objector, Madsen misses the point of our having protected classes, which is to denote those protected against unlawful discrimination, not those permitted to engage in it. The court was entirely correct in deciding that neither the florist in question nor the florist’s religious freedom would suffer special harm from providing services equally to all citizens who might seek them. The florist is not required to sell flowers, only to do so without regard to race, religion, age, sexual orientation, etc.
Madsen might prefer that sexual orientation were not included in our state’s list of protected classes, but it is, and court after court has made clear that a claim of religious freedom cannot be a cover for subverting the law.