New York’s recently passed same-sex marriage law has raised some concern among the religious right that the religious exemptions hammered out in the hours before the vote took place are inadequate because they fail to protect individual businesses — photographers, caterers, DJs — from refusing to do business with a gay or lesbian couple.
There are two things to say about this: 1) New York actually prohibits businesses from discriminating against people because of sexual orientation or gender identity and 2) very few businesses would turn away new clients in today’s economy. As this article from New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor demonstrates, businesses are far more interested in making money than using their personal beliefs to push away potential clients:
Crowe and Forester both had long careers in photojournalism before turning to wedding photography. Forester once shot 40 weddings in a single year, when the economy was better. Crowe, a stay-at-home dad, shoots about a dozen weddings per year.
They say their personal feelings about gay marriage are irrelevant. Business is business. And if they choose to bypass a civil union or, later, a gay wedding, for any reason at all, court is the last place they’d expect to end up.
“There’s a lot of websites that are gay friendly for anything,” said Forester, who worked at the Monitor and Boston Globe before starting his freelance career. “Gays are very savvy about any kind of business decision that they make. There are gay cruises, gay vacations, a whole network out there, so I don’t know if they’d even be seeking out someone who necessarily doesn’t do it. I think it’s a red herring. It’s a non-issue.”
Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia have all enacted same-sex marriage legislation with religious exemptions and fears of lawsuits “have not been borne out.” “There have been very few lawsuits, and the lawsuits that are filed usually have been resolved amicably,” William Eskridge, a professor at Yale Law School, recently said in an interview with Reuters.