By Diana Hsieh
New York has properly legalized gay marriage. Melisa Erwin and Jennie McCarthy have improperly filed an anti-discrimination complaint under New York law to force a private business to host gay weddings.That's completely right, and there's more in the rest of the post.
The targets of the complaint, Robert and Cynthia Gifford, owners of Liberty Ridge Farm and opponents of gay marriage, refused to host Erwin and McCarthy's wedding, citing religious freedom as justification.
Every individual has a right to live by his own moral standards, even irrational ones, so long as his actions don't violate the rights of others. But this issue is not primarily about freedom of religion and conscience; rather, it is about freedom of association and contract.
Erwin and McCarthy claim that Liberty Ridge is in violation of NY law, which forbids a business that serves the public to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. But the inalienable rights of gays to forge a marriage contract does not include the right to force others to do business with them. It is just as wrong for Erwin and McCarthy to impose their values on the Giffords by forcing them to host gay weddings as it was for the government to impose the Giffords' standards on gays by legally banning gay marriage.
As it happens, I discussed the political right to discriminate in the 23 January 2011 episode of Philosophy in Action Radio. The question was:
In the essay "Racism" in The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand mentions that public institutions and government agencies should not discriminate against or on behalf of individuals. In her talk of private property, however, she says that government should not attempt to prevent private racism in private establishments and that a man's rights are not violated by a private individual's refusal to deal with him. My question is: How are his rights not violated if the owner discriminates against him?My Answer, In Brief: A person's rights are not violated because someone else doesn't want anything to do with him – even if his reasons are vicious.
Download or Listen to My Full Answer:
- Duration: 5:30
- Download: MP3 Segment