Distribution of same-sex marriage licenses just began in Maryland today, and already a Christian-owned business is complaining that it won’t be free to deny business to same-sex couples. Matt Grubbs runs Discover Annapolis Tours, which until now provided trolley cars to transport wedding parties and guests from churches to receptions. Because he refuses to provide this service for same-sex couples and their families, his lawyer has advised him to abandon this wedding service entirely, which will cost him $50,000 a year in revenue. Grubbs believes the government should grant him an exemption to discriminate:
GRUBBS: The law exempts my minister from doing same-sex weddings, and the Knights of Columbus don’t have to rent out their hall for a gay wedding reception, but somehow my religious convictions don’t count for anything. [...]
We’re a Christian-owned company, and we just can’t support gay marriages. We’re not trying to make a statement. We’re not trying to make a point. We’re just trying to be faithful Christians.
Of course, the National Organization for Marriage was quick to claim that it had foreseen this “consequence” of marriage equality:
The ballot shown to Maryland voters used 25 words to described the redefinition of marriage but over 70 words claiming false religious exemptions for people and institutions who disagree with redefined marriage.
Sure enough, as we warned, citizens in Maryland who disagree with redefined marriage are now being forced out of the public square and are NOT protected under the redefining marriage law passed in Maryland.
There was nothing “false” about the exemptions for religious leaders and institutions, but as Jeremy Hooper points out, the law never promised a right for bus vendors to discriminate. In fact, if a same-sex couple decided to have a non-legal commitment ceremony before the marriage equality bill passed, it would have been just as illegal for Grubbs to deny them service then as it is now. Maryland law says that it’s illegal to for businesses to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation, and the legality of marriage doesn’t change that.
Women were once prohibited from owning property. People of color were once denied use of the same facilities and services as white people. Now anti-gay Christians, led by NOM, are trying to use their faith to justify blatant discrimination against same-sex couples. If the discrimination is more important than the revenue to Grubbs, that is his choice, but it does not make him a victim.