walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Catering and Civil Rights/Public Accommodation ... and Shaming

I got to thinking about this Indiana thing. As near as I can tell, the underlying claim is that business services associated with a wedding are somehow ... different, in a way that would make it somehow ... acceptable to discriminate in that context that would _not_ be acceptable to discriminate at a more obvious public accommodation such as a movie theatre showing movies to the public or a restaurant that serves meals.

Link Fu about catering and civil rights ... stuff. I'm NOT including stuff about hostile work environment, who qualifies as a supervisor, sexual harassment, etc. I'm looking for what happens when religion and catering run up against each other.


Rastafarian delivery driver asked by employee (caterer) to remove his head covering. He says he can't. They fire him. Employee found to be in violation.

Summary of the law:


This is interesting, because it points out the interstate commerce element.

"The Act designates two criteria for determining which establishments are involved. First, the Title invokes the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution to cover any business which either serves interstate travelers or sells a "subtantial" amount of produce which has previously crossed state lines."

I get that LGBT are not included in the protected classes list on Title 2. I get that.

In any event, the interstate commerce element, in conjunction with the developing national pressure for a boycott suggests a point of weakness here in the argument that catering a wedding differs in an important way from serving at a restaurant or selling tickets to a movie theatre.

Cake baker in Colorado wound up with a judgment saying basically can't refuse to make wedding cakes for gay couples if you make them.


Supporters of the cake baker who didn't want to make those cakes bought enough cookies that he took a break from making any wedding cakes at all.

A more complex California situation involving catering a wedding.


A discussion of California specific law and how it might apply; at the point this was written, the couple had not decided to pursue legal action. Service vs. business was thought to apply (which would suggest that caterers MIGHT be meaningfully different) and size of business also mattered.

Michigan summary of relevant law more generally about discrimination, with a focus on negative economic effects associated with allowing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression (including recognition of loss of younger generation independent of orientation because of the lack of protection for these categories).


It is interesting watching this national discussion while reading Jon Ronson's _So You've Been Publicly Shamed_. By passing a law explicitly permitting religious people to shame (through refusal to serve) based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression, Indiana's legislature and governor have opened themselves up to a national shaming of them for doing so (companies changing locations for conferences, making changes in where to place/expand HQs, etc.). In a shame war, commitment really matters, but so do numbers. I'm pretty sure I know how this is going to turn out, and I think that a lot of other people have figured that out, too, which is why Arkansas has abruptly slowed down the process of passing their version of the law.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.