Masterpiece Bakery, Red Hen and Free Markets

The latest development from Washington, D.C. includes a northern Virginia restaurant named the Red Hen and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Shortly after Sanders arrived at the restaurant last week, co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson told her that they would not serve her and her party because they disagreed with her politics. Specifically, the owner was unhappy with the Trump administration’s refusal to have taxpayers pay for elective surgery and hormones for transgendered soldiers.

So Sanders and company left and only made note of it in a Tweet:

The owner would then go on to defend her actions saying, “People have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”

After the incident we then learned that the owner followed Sanders and her party to another restaurant to continue harassing her.

The difference between Red Hen and Masterpiece

The refusal by a business owner to serve a member of the Trump cabinet, and the celebration of this decision from the left, is oh-so ironic considering the reaction to a Supreme Court decision just a few weeks ago concerning a cake baker and who he would or wouldn’t make wedding cakes for.

The state of Colorado said Jack Phillips would have to make wedding cakes for anyone, regardless of his religious beliefs. Or face punishment for refusing. But in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phillips in determining that “religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views.”

But there are two main differences between Masterpiece Cakeshop and The Red Hen.

Masterpiece served customers who were gay. Phillips would make a cake for any reason other than for their wedding. The equivalent would be if Sanders asked the restaurant to cook for a Trump campaign event. The restaurant should have the right to refuse to do that, because they disagree with the President’s political message. But the restaurant won’t serve Sanders simply because of who she is and her job. That’s the exact opposite of what Masterpiece did. Red Hen said we won’t serve Sanders under any circumstance. Phillips just said he wouldn’t serve someone under a certain condition.

And the Masterpiece decision also centered around the deeply held religious views of Phillips. The Supreme Court has time and again protected the religious freedoms of Americans, which are guaranteed in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. In the case of Red Hen, the refusal of service wasn’t related to anyone’s religious beliefs; rather purely to political differences.

The market always works

And Red Hen has plenty of encouragement, even from elected members of Congress. For example, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) recently said this: “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

But the truth is when it comes to Red Hen or Masterpiece, the market will sort itself out. Kicking someone out of a restaurant, particularly for no reason other than political differences, may be reprehensible. But for someone just outside of Washington D.C. surrounded by a sea of anti-Trump vitriol, it might not be a terrible business decision.

The same is true in the case of Jack Phillips. If his refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding bothers you that much, and you don’t understand how someone could have religious beliefs that run counter to the endorsement of gay marriage, then don’t frequent his business. My guess is there are plenty of other options in Colorado.

Just like there are other options for restaurants in northern Virginia.

As Mississippi was passing legislation to protect individuals like Phillips from discrimination for their religious beliefs, restaurants and businesses in the Fondren and Belhaven areas of Jackson began putting up stickers on their front door or window that said something to the extent of “if you’re buying, we’re selling.”

Which, of course, any business is allowed to do, whether a state passes religious freedom laws or not. In fact, if a restaurant refused to serve someone simply because they were gay, odds are the media firestorm that that would create would cause real harm to the business.

Businesses should never be forced to promote a message that stands in opposition to their beliefs. Masterpiece shouldn’t be forced to make a cake for a gay wedding if they disagree with same-sex marriage, and Red Hen shouldn’t be forced to make a party tray for a pro-Trump rally if they disagree with Trump.


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