Long long ago in a land far far away at the world’s Middle East then under Roman rule, a man with ivory white skin and long flowing blond hair (really, I thought you said he was from the Middle East?) proclaimed:

“Thou shall not eateth cake if thou expecteth to marry someone of thine own sex, for it is abomination. If thou eateth said treat, thou shall burneth in the flames of the deep hot confectionery hellhole for eternity!”

While the historical Jesus of Nazareth has been shown never to have asserted any mention of same-sex sexuality, same-sex marriage, or the purchase and consumption of baked goods for same-sex couples, people with same-sex attractions and love interests have suffered the ravages of religious persecution throughout the ages on “religious” grounds.

Throughout the ages, individuals and organizations have employed religious dogma to justify the marginalization, harassment, denial of rights, persecution, and oppression of entire groups of people based on their social identities. At various historical periods, people have applied these texts, sometimes taken in tandem, and at other times used selectively, to establish and maintain hierarchical positions of power, domination, and privilege over individuals and groups targeted by these texts and tenets.

The United States of America was founded on Christian justifications for oppression, utilizing so-called “religious” rationalizations for slavery, bans on interracial marriage, advancing racial segregation, against women’s enfranchisement and the rights of women to control their bodies, opposition to public schooling, banning public education and other services for people with disabilities, restrictions on immigration and voting rights, imposition of school prayer and so-called “Blue Laws” prohibiting Sunday sales, and many other areas of public policy. 

“States Rights” and “Religious Beliefs” have long served as the allied battle cries as well for state legislators to deny LGBTQ people the rights and privileges summarily granted to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Today, no national laws require all states to protect residents from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, counseling, insurance, and other areas based on sexual identity and gender identity and expression.

Currently only 22 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have passed non-discrimination laws in housing, for example, protecting people’s rights based on sexual orientation, and 19 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, based on gender identity and expression.

In terms of LGBTQ equality, how can anyone possibly defend the clear and undeniable contradiction between a religion’s expressed claims, in various forms, to love one’s neighbor as oneself, and how it is better to give than to receive, combined for example, with a baker’s refusal to bake a confectionery delight; a photographer’s refusal to preserve joyous moments; a caterer’s refusal to cook the pleasures of delectable sustenance; a florist’s refusal to arrange the beauties from the garden; a jeweler’s refusal of a band connecting human souls; a realtor’s refusal to show shelters signifying new chapters in one’s book of time, or a landlord’s refusal to rent; a shop owner’s refusal to sell the common and special objects supporting and enhancing life; a restaurateurs’ refusal to provide anyone a time away from the kitchen; an employer’s refusal to hire a fully qualified and committed employee, all these based solely on peoples social identities.

The Supreme Court’s recent 7-2 decision ruling in favor of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado and the owner’s refusal to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple as constitutional, while limited to the scope of this one case, nonetheless has wide-ranging implications.

Aside from legal issues, what can we infer from those religions that justify discriminatory treatment of other human beings? In this specific instance and extending further, religions promoting discrimination against same-sex couples purchasing wedding cakes are religions lacking moral authority!

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Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld  is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).


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