In renewing the push for legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Maryland, people are revisiting the debate over religious exemptions. I heard someone argue today that forcing a homophobic florist to sell them flowers "by court order" is perfectly appropriate. Beside the fact that people in the wedding industry are salivating over the prospect of making money off of queer nuptials, advocates of forcing social change on that hypothetical florist are missing a more fundamental point.
Once you have declared that government imposition of a preferred outcome trumps individual liberty, you have conceded the religious right's entire argument. Once you have declared that government should force people to reorder their private affairs to adhere to a certain code of conduct regarding homosexuality, you do not have much ground to complain when the Pat Robertsons of the state or country choose that code of conduct. The government has spoken, so tough noogies for you. We can avoid that difficulty by accepting that society has enough room for both those who want equal rights for those in same-sex relationships and those who do not want to participate in solemnizing such relationships.
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