GoFundMe bans fundraising for religious business owners charged by state for refusing to cater a gay wedding

The new policy is phrased neutrally, as a ban on donations for anyone formally accused of “discriminatory acts,” but it’s obvious who the target is. Last week they shut down fundraising pages for Sweet Cakes by Melissa and Arlene’s Flowers, two Christian-owned businesses facing discrimination charges for declining to provide services to same-sex weddings, and caught hell for it from conservatives online. With good reason. Until this week, GoFundMe banned fundraising “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts,” but Sweet Cakes and Arlene’s Flowers weren’t accused of crimes. They were accused of violating civil antidiscrimination statutes. Even if they had been accused of crimes, only a truly lunatic supporter of gay marriage would treat politely refusing to bake a wedding cake as on par with the sort of crimes people typically think of as “heinous.”

So GoFundMe had a dilemma. It could either violate its own policy by keeping Sweet Cakes and Arlene’s Flowers off the site despite the fact that no crime had been committed, or it could reinstate the fundraising pages for those businesses and piss off fanatic, boycott-ready gay-rights activists. In the end, they made the smart business decision by finding a third way. They’d change their policy in the name of keeping those pages offline, knowing that it’s safer for a company to cross social conservatives than to cross the left and their media allies on gay issues.

The previous policy barred “Campaigns in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.” The new policy bans “Campaigns in defense of formal charges or claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory acts.”…

“GoFundMe may want to appear as if it has a neutral policy prohibiting funds from being raised for certain activities,” said Mr. Weber in an email. “But it is apparent that GoFundMe is seeking to slap several words onto their ‘policy’ merely to cover up the reality that they actually dropped the Kleins’ page [for Sweet Cakes by Melissa] because they were scared of cranky LGBT activists.”

Kristen Waggoner, the Alliance Defending Freedom attorney representing Arlene’s Flowers, said in an interview Tuesday that GoFundMe’s decision to drop the page, even though Ms. Stutzman has not been charged with a crime, raises questions as to whether GoFundMe is discriminating on the basis of religion.

“We’re looking at legal options that she might have,” said Ms. Waggoner. “There have been other campaigns on GoFundMe that haven’t been shut down. To me, this may be discrimination based on religion.”

I think that’s more of a talking point than a legit legal claim in the works but it’s a clever tu quoque regardless. Anyway: Will GFM pay any price for this? A small one, maybe, as some religious/conservative charity steps into the fundraising breach the next time a Christian business owner is sued over gay wedding service. Samaritan’s Purse already has a leg up on the competition. To really punish GoFundMe, though, you’d need righties to refuse to use the site entirely, not just in the small universe of cases brought against religious business owners for discriminating against gays. How likely is that? A year after a nascent conservative boycott of Mozilla over Brendan Eich being forced out for his position on SSM, has Mozilla’s business been damaged?

Incidentally, with Sweet Cakes having gone out of business in protest of being forced to participate in gay weddings, the Kleins are facing a mind-boggling $135,000 fine and trying to feed their five kids on a garbage collector’s salary. Maybe they’ll end up living on the street. That’ll show ’em for being so “hateful.” In lieu of an exit question, and presented without comment, enjoy this man-on-the-street episode from the Daily Signal.