Those who understand the courage and sacrifice it takes to start and operate a small business understand that the business’s message and identity is its business. None of us should go into a store and tell the owners that they should do things this way or that way. We speak with our money, and if a business is meeting the needs of the market, it is rewarded. If it isn’t, we quit going, and the business shuts down. In the free market, that’s how we, as a community, speak to our businesses. What we do not do is twist their arms and make them do things that violate their consciences.
So what is the harm in not protecting individuals and business owners? Under so-called “protective” laws like Proposition 5, the Alliance Defense Fund has received calls requesting legal assistance from countless business owners nationwide who are having their arms twisted. These businesses all have competitors that customers can use, but they are being targeted because someone doesn’t like what they believe and will use the sword of the state to extract their pound of flesh—all in the name of “tolerance,” naturally.
If we, as Americans, are truly devoted to the idea of freedom, then let’s collectively dedicate ourselves to protecting the God-given, constitutionally protected freedom to express only those ideas and messages that we wish to express.
Recently, a federal appeals court reminded us all that “tolerance is a two-way street.” The lack of tolerance for religious and moral beliefs in Proposition 5 should put every citizen of Anchorage—and America—on edge. No one should be forced to celebrate behavior that directly conflicts with their beliefs.
If the choice is between preserving everyone’s rights of conscience, on the one hand, or the threat of harsh punishment for failing to adopt the beliefs of a small group of activists under the guise of “non-discrimination” on the other, the decision is clear. Freedom wins. Right?
Austin R. Nimocks is senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that has defended marriage and religious liberty in courts throughout the U.S.
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