I was invited to participate in a debate with Micah Clark, the executive director of the American Family Association-Indiana. Set on a mock-up boxing ring, it will air tonight on Indianapolis Fox affiliate Channel 59 at 10:00 p.m. This is the editorial of my talking points which will accompany the posting online.
While the debate question was "Should a business be allowed to turn people away?" the subtext is "Should this store be allowed to refuse service to this individual in this case?" The Human Rights Ordinance adopted by Marion County in 2005 says no. So the real debate is why this legislation should stand.
The bakery owners, David and Lily Stockton, have deep convictions backed by their faith that made them refuse to fill an order that would have been part of a celebration for National Coming Out Day. Their concern was that it would set a bad example for their daughters. Those daughters--who are young adults--are probably old enough to discern for themselves the nuance of spiritual obedience. The Stocktons passed up the chance to teach them by example how to accept and celebrate the diversity of people and instead taught them the wrong lesson.
We are human beings and we will make mistakes. When those mistakes have the potential to cause harm, we make laws to prevent them from happening. My rights as an individual end at the point they cause another person harm. Discrimination is wrong regardless of its target because it causes harm; it is not defined by its object. All laws are designed to guide our behavior; they exist to bring out the best in us. This ordinance does exactly that by requiring that we treat all individuals the same. It is a nonpartisan issue that has the full support of the mayor's office.