"Execute homosexuals if you must — but don’t dare refuse to bake them a cake before sending them to the gallows." Some could interpret this incredible statement as the position of many American businesses, as they successfully lobbied against a Georgia religious-freedom bill and indulged contradictions that, as one writer put it, belong “in the hypocrisy hall of fame.”
Last June America was given the unconstitutional Obergefell v. Hodges faux-marriage decision. Recent times have also seen something else unprecedented: the government punishing bakers and other businessmen for refusing to service events — faux weddings, to be precise — they find religiously and morally objectionable. As a result, some states have sought to protect these citizens by enacting religious-liberty bills, with Georgia being the most recent. But just as with Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) last year — which was watered down after criticism and threats from businesses — the reaction to the Peach State’s proposal was anything but peachy. And now Georgia governor Nathan Deal just announced that he has vetoed his state’s bill.
Over the last many months, the media-academia-entertainment axis had been hard at work trying to scuttle the Georgia measure. Most significantly for chicken-hearted politicians, businesses had been threatening an economic boycott because, you know, they really care. Of course, we might wonder what it is they care about, and the following examples provide an indication.
Virgin CEO Richard Branson cares so much about homosexuals that he tweeted, “Georgia must stop discrimination in the name of religious freedom.” Yet Virgin does business in countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and Oman, which, of course, would bake homosexuals before baking them cakes. In fact, the UAE and Saudi Arabia may give them the death penalty.
Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Inc., cares almost as much. He tweeted, “I agree and proud @SecureWorks joined against Georgia Bill that Shields Discrimination Against Gays.” Nonetheless, Dell does have offices in China, whose autocratic regime just banned the portrayal of homosexuals on television; and in Singapore, where homosexual activity is illegal.
Then there’s Microsoft, whose ideology is apparently as glitch-ridden as its software. Its president, Brad Smith, tweeted “We agree with the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce on keeping Georgia a great place to do business.” As American Thinker’s Trevor Thomas noted, however, “It seems that for Microsoft a ‘great place to do business’ also includes places like Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, of Newsweek’s ‘Top Twelve Most Homophobic Nations,’ Microsoft does business in nine of them.”
And it seemed that every corporation and large business association joined the phalanx of the feigners, among them being Google, Coca-Cola, Intel, Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group, Hilton Worldwide, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association. This is truly “astounding when we see that Hilton Worldwide has hotels in China, Egypt, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the like. [And] Marriott has hotels or resorts in Algeria, China, Egypt, and India,” Thomas tells us.
Others have also noted the hypocrisy. Describing this behavior as “cultural cronyism,” the Daily Signal’s Ryan T. Anderson writes, “Businesses in Georgia were always free to embrace gay marriage — to bake wedding cakes for gay marriages and make floral arrangements for same-sex nuptials — and many do, but now they want the government to force everyone in Georgia to do the same.” He continued:
But if every Hilton, Marriott, and InterContinental hotel in Georgia already hosts receptions for newlywed same-sex couples — why can’t Georgia protect the mom-and-pop bed-and-breakfast or local Knights of Columbus hall that has a different set of beliefs about marriage? This law doesn’t harm minority rights; it protects them in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage.
The hypocrisy of big business lobbying against the law is astounding. They want to be free to operate in Georgia according to their values, but they don’t want small-business competitors to be free to operate according to theirs. If all of the major corporations are already in favor of gay marriage, then this religious freedom law poses no threat. It merely protects the rights of those who disagree.
Yet it’s worse than that. In the ultimate example of situational (and geographical) values, these big businesses seek to impose on others one set of values in Georgia while casting that apparent imperative to the winds in nations that can’t be bullied.
And that’s the point: These corporations couldn’t care less about homosexuals — they’re gay about the dollar. The United States has a politically correct environment and media, so businesses make the requisite politically correct statements. Yet there’s a different dominant social code in Saudi Arabia and other such nations, so in those places these corporations behave differently. It’s public relations, not principle; chameleon color adaptation, not exercise of character.
Yet sadder still is when public officials further prove that the lust for money is the root of all evil and capitulate. Indiana governor Mike Pence ran scared after the 2015 attacks on his state’s RFRA, and now Governor Deal has given Georgia residents a raw deal in the area of liberty.
And what is the fear? Question: Is there even one example of a state losing a substantial and sustained amount of business after passing an RFRA? Again, these corporations will feel compelled to make their statements and burnish their politically correct credentials. But after they’ve washed their hands and essentially say “Hey, don’t blame us — we took the ‘right’ position,” do you really think they’re going to sacrifice pocketbook for principle? They don’t do this in Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Why, while the NFL threatened Georgia with the loss of the Super Bowl, Florida is a favored Super Bowl destination and Texas hosted one in 2011 — and both these states have religious-freedom laws.
Thus, it seems likely that had the Georgia bill been signed, the tantrum would have passed and the controversy faded, and it would’ve been business as usual. Unfortunately, we’ll never know because Governor Deal folded like a cheap tent. Public officials should remember that what corporations really care about is a friendly business environment; keep regulation and taxes low and the businesses will come.
As for protecting the relevant liberties, here’s an idea. Stop framing this as a “religious freedom” issue and a “Christians vs. homosexual lobby” battle. Instead, propose a “Freedom of Conscience Act” that would protect any businessman from being forced to service events he finds morally objectionable. And explain it thus: “For instance, a Jewish businessman couldn’t be compelled to service a Nazi affair; a black businessman couldn’t be forced to service a KKK affair; and a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim businessman couldn’t be made to service an affair centered on adultery, fornication, self-gratification, or homosexuality. It’s your business, your choice.”
Of course, we once had freedom of association in America, and involuntary servitude was supposedly made illegal long ago. So the fact that we’re even discussing this issue in the “land of the free” indicates that, in essence, we no longer are.