Sell them the damn flowers.
Good. It is a gay rights victory and, in the larger sense, a human rights victory. Anyone may become the target of “my faith disapproves of you.” I have more than once been a target of it myself.* It isn’t fun. More important, it isn’t right.
justify having once declined a client for ideological reasons
The prospective client, a so-called think tank,** opposed just about every ideology I embraced. There was no way I was going to create literature promoting their odious cause. I was within my rights. Forcing me to play ball with them would have constituted compelled speech, and speech is something government is not allowed to compel.
But suppose I owned a printing company. If the same organization wanted me to print their flyers, I’d do it even though I wouldn’t enjoy it. Printing is not speech. I’d print anyone else’s fliers, and the law requires—so far—that I treat all people with equal fairness.***
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A florist is more like a printing company than an ad agency. Anyone should be able to buy flowers. The event for which the flowers are destined is none of the merchant’s business. Don’t approve that Adam and Steve are betrothed? Tough. All Adam and Steve want is the same basic product you’d sell to anyone else. Sell them the damn flowers.
Do not try telling me assembling and selling bouquets is compelled speech. You might have a case if Adam and Steve wanted you to create a 10,000 square-foot tableau spelling out with roses a 200-word, custom essay in support of same-sex marriage. So far, that one hasn’t been tested in the courts.
The RESPONSE Agency used to schedule the company Christmas dinner around, if you can imagine, Christmastime. That changed when I hired a Jehovah’s Witness as a production manager. The JWs, you may know, abstain from Christmas activities. I moved the event to January and called it an “annual dinner” so that he and his spouse could join us.
He didn’t demand that I do it, and no regulation I’m aware of required it. Had I continued holding the dinner in December and told him, “Oh well, we’ll miss you,” I’d have been within my rights. Nor was I motivated by respect for his beliefs. On the contrary, I hold religion, all of it, in low regard, and have no interest in showing it the least degree of deference. I just figured that, since I had some flexibility, I might as well be nice.
I’d even have sold him flowers. He never asked.
* To be fair, my obnoxious personality may have played a part.
** So-called, because I saw no evidence of think, only of tank.
** We could multiply what-ifs. What if I were a printer and Neo Nazis wanted me to print an anti-Semitic poster? You can bet I’d feel within my rights to decline. Double standard? Maybe, but I would argue that declining to reproduce hate speech falls in another area. If you want to use that to argue that arranging flowers for a same-sex wedding constitutes hate speech against people who are anti-gay, well, good luck with that. I might add that I’m making a moral argument here. For the legal side, ask an attorney specializing in speech issues.