But there is a fine distinction here, which is being ignored. The distinction is that, if a homosexual couple enters an establishment to eat, a simple transaction is taking place. The restaurant sells food and gets paid an agreed-upon price to do so. Barring other public disturbances, there is no issue here. The owner of the restaurant is not involved in the ideology, beliefs or convictions of his patrons. He is providing a service, and not being made to participate in any ideological venture. The homosexual diners are entitled to sit at the table and talk all day privately, about their agenda and desire to overturn constitutions, referendums, and the rest. The owner of the restaurant is not a participant, contributor, or involved in any way in their ideological bent. As far as the restaurant is concerned, it is doing nothing but providing a service—that is, serving food. What it need not provide, is active participation in an ideology that is not its own.
The crucial difference comes when the baker is asked to participate, not just render a service disconnected from ideological engagement. This in fact happens when the baker is forced to participate in the gay marriage event by baking a cake. If a gay couple wants a cake which reads, “gay is ok,” now they are asking the baker to participate in their ideological convictions. The baker, at this point, is not simply serving food to the hungry, a completely non-ideological free-market transaction. He is being asked to involve himself and create an ideological object, “the gay cake,” that professes an aim and way of life that he finds objectionable. This is no longer just a cake, but a political and ideological statement. There is a big difference for freedom of conscience between baking a cake and producing an “ideological cake.” Burger King, not long ago, chose to produce a “Gay Whopper,” grand. But no one should force Wendy’s to produce the same. Wendy’s produces burgers; if it wishes to produce an ideological burger, this can only be done freely by the corporation itself. They cannot be forced by the government or judges to do so. Similarly, I would object to forcing, on grounds of discrimination against believers, any effort to make a hamburger establishment produce a “faith-based whopper.”
Merely providing a service is non-active participation in the ideological mindset of a customer. Forcing entrepreneurs to create visible signs is seeking to coerce an individual or business to take ideological stands. These entrepreneurs or individuals, for moral or business reasons, have a right to refuse this ideological coercion. It matters little if they, rightly or wrongly, find an ideological transaction objectionable.