The reports are almost predictable by now: a same-sex couple walks into some kind of business that caters to wedding clientele but is owned by a Christian. The couple asks for services and if the business refuses on moral grounds, they are threatened with protests, lawsuits, or worse. The scenario has played out effectively for several years in the U.S, and has become so effective that activists will even troll for the storyline.1
Such tactics aren't limited to the United States. In Northern Ireland, the Christian-owned Asher's Baking Company was sued because they wouldn't bake a cake sporting pro-homosexual propaganda for a political event.2 The judge sided with the homosexual group and fined the bakery.
However, there's a story out of Canada that flips the whole narrative on its head. In northeast Canada, a lesbian couple were distraught that Today's Jewellers wanted to continue creating the custom-designed wedding rings they had ordered even though the Christian owners do not believe in homosexual marriage. The couple had worked with one of the store's jewelers, ordering their rings and even placing a deposit, but after finding out the owners were vocal supporters of natural marriage, they said "the bands seem tainted."3
When Non-Discrimination is Somehow DiscriminationCBCNews reported the story of same-sex couple Nicole White and Pam Renouf, who walked into the Mount Pearl, NL jewelry store after searching nearby St. John's for wedding rings. Today's Jewellers was recommended to them because they craft custom designs. The store not only served them, but served them so well that White and Renouf recommended them to their friends. White said "They were great to work with. They seemed to have no issues. They knew the two of us were a same-sex couple."
The whole thing came unhinged when one of the couple's friends visited the store himself and saw a sign on the wall that read, "The Sanctity of Marriage is Under Attack." He sent a picture of the sign to White and Renouf, who then wanted their money back. White stated:
It was really upsetting. Really sad, because we already had money down on the rings, and they're displaying how much they are against gays, and how they think marriage should be between a man and a woman. …
I have no issues with them believing in what they believe in. I think everyone's entitled to their own opinion. But I don't think they should put their personal beliefs inside their business.
Arguing the Bakers' Case for ThemThis story illustrates what Christians have been saying throughout the whole debate on serving homosexual unions; it has nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with forcing others to accept a single point of view. According to the article:
White said the rings were meant to be a symbol of love, but now the bands seem tainted.If custom made rings are compromised because of the views of the ringmaker, then how is the baker or photographer not also tainted because of the product which they are being forced to create? There's a reason why wedding photographers can take pictures of your wedding that you paid for yet still hold the copyright to the images themselves. You cannot reproduce those images unless the photographer gives you his or her permission because the photos are more than a product on a shelf; they contain they reflect the personality and the creativity of the artist.5 The other point is clear as well. Serving same-sex couples even if one doesn't agree with them is not enough. You cannot even hold to a contrary opinion.
"I think every time I look at that ring, I'll probably think of what we just went through," White said.4
One good thing from this story is it may show a way for other Christian-owned businesses to diffuse future "gotcha" attacks by activists who want to shut them down because of their beliefs. At The Federalist, Bruce Takawani recently posted his ideas on how Christian businesses can protect themselves from lawsuits by branding your business using scripture and scripture passages, plastering them on all your flyers, your delivery van, and even on company t-shirts. Given the reaction by White and Renouf above, such a suggestion just may work.
2. McDonald, Henry. "Northern Ireland Bakers Guilty of Discrimination over Gay Marriage Cake." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 19 May 2015. Web. 20 May 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/19/northern-ireland-ashers-baking-company-guilty-discrimination-gay-marriage-cake.
3. News, CBC. "Jewelry Store Sign Prompts Same-sex Couple to Ask for Refund." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 17 May 2015. Web. 20 May 2015. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/jewelry-store-sign-prompts-same-sex-couple-to-ask-for-refund-1.3077192.
4 CBCnews, 17 May, 2015.
5. Streissguth, Tom. "Who Owns the Copyright on Wedding Pictures?" LegalZoom: Legal Info. LegalZoom.com, Inc., n.d. Web. 20 May 2015. http://info.legalzoom.com/owns-copyright-wedding-pictures-20832.html.
Image source: https://scontent-lax1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/11230238_10155496136245034_5838615754670842879_n.jpg?oh=2978135687d836001211531e1df368ac&oe=56048063
Image courtesy Kurt Löwenstein Educational Center International Team from Germany CC BY 2.0.