Is It Just a Cake ?

In his regular column yesterday, David Brooks proposed that citizens don’t need lawyers to adjudicate the culture wars that began back in the 1970s. Instead of litigating, Brooks asked, why not talk? Anticipating arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission made later that day at the Supreme Court, Brooks wrote that the baker in question, Jack Phillips “is not trying to restrict gay marriage or gay rights; he’s simply asking not to be forced to take part.”  The litigants, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, might — instead of choosing to sue — have been “neighborly” instead. They might have embraced Phillips, invited him to their home, and persuaded him that gay people are really no different from straight people. Furthermore, Brooks argued,

It’s just a cake. It’s not like they were being denied a home or a job, or a wedding. A cake looks good in magazines, but it’s not an important thing in a marriage. Second, Phillips’s opinion is not a strange opinion. Barack Obama was elected president arguing that a marriage was between a man and a woman. Most good-hearted Americans believed this until a few years ago. Third, the tide of opinion is quickly swinging in favor of gay marriage. Its advocates have every cause to feel confident, patient and secure.

Given that context, the neighborly approach would be to say: “Fine, we won’t compel you to do something you believe violates your sacred principles. But we would like to hire you to bake other cakes for us. We would like to invite you into our home for dinner and bake with you, so you can see our marital love, and so we can understand your values. You still may not agree with us, after all this, but at least we’ll understand each other better and we can live more fully in our community.”

But noooooooooOOOO! as John Belushi used to say back in the day. Instead, Craig and Mullins chose to “take the problem out of the neighborhood and throw it into the court system.

For the rest of this post, go to Public Seminar.

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