Serving LGBTQ+ couples as a florist

American businesses should not have the right to refuse service and discriminate against LGBTQ+ couples. Very few states prohibit discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation (1), and every day people face hatred and inequality because of who they love. In the past few years in the U.S.A, there have been multiple incidents where businesses refused to serve somebody because of their sexual orientation. Many people who have declined service to same sex couples say that it was because of their religious beliefs. Businesses should not be able to refuse service to LGBTQ+ couples based on personal beliefs, because the 14th Amendment requires equal treatment under the law, discrimination spreads fear across the LGBTQ+ community, and religious freedom should not intrude on the rights of others.

Businesses being able to refuse service to same sex couples causes stress and fear in the LGBTQ+ community. First of all, approximately 3.5% of Americans identify as queer, therefore same sex marriages are higher than ever (2). This might not sound like a lot, but that’s more than 9 million peotple. 92% of the LGBT youth say that they “hear negative messages about being LGBT” (2). If closeted gay people know that they will face hatred and businesses can kick them out because of who they are, they might fear coming out in the first place. This is obviously a huge problem, because we don’t want to spread fear among the LGBTQ+ community.

As stated in the fourteenth amendment, all citizens of the United States are guaranteed equal protection. Our public accommodation laws are critical to guaranteeing that all citizens have equal access to products and services. “Public accommodations laws do not simply guarantee access to goods or services. Instead, they serve a broader societal purpose: eradicating barriers to the equal treatment of all citizens in the commercial marketplace,” wrote the Washington State Supreme Court, ruling for a gay couple was denied wedding services by a florist, “Were we to carve out a patchwork of exceptions for ostensibly justified discrimination, that purpose would be fatally undermined.” (3) Making exceptions to the 14th amendment weakens the constitution as a whole, and it’s unfair to say that a law applies to some but not others.

Religious freedom should never intrude on the rights of others. Although religious freedom is very important in our country, it can not be used to discriminate against someone that you disagree with. “You can say to whomever, ‘I think gay people shouldn’t be able to get married. It’s a sin.’ You just can’t turn people away because of who they are.” said attorney James Esseks (4). In July of 2012, a Colorado baker named Jack Phillips refused to make a wedding cake for two gay men because of his religious beliefs. The two men decided to take legal action against him, and by the end of fall the supreme court will decide if what Phillips did was legal or not. “Religious liberty gives you the right to your beliefs but not the right to harm others.” said Louise Melling, Deputy Director of ACLU, who defended the two men in their suit against a Phillips (5). Religion shouldn’t play a role in a public work place, and should never be used as an excuse to discriminate against others.

Letting businesses discriminate against same sex couples does no good for our society. It spreads fear across the LGBTQ+ community, weakens the Constitution, and lets religious freedom intrude on the rights of others. If you’re still having trouble understanding, just imagine walking into a shop and being told to leave because of who you are. Imagine the feeling of getting told you couldn’t go somewhere because of who you love. It would be an awful feeling, and sadly in our country people experience this every day. Discrimination based on sexual orientation should be illegal across the whole USA. We need to take a step forward as a nation, and stop this from being allowed.