A peaceful protest is planned for this afternoon outside a Riverview flower shop that recently refused service to a same-sex couple due to the shop owner's religious beliefs.That's the problem with the "human rights" legislation (in New Brunswick as well as in any other jurisdiction, including the Federal Human Rights Act) that it makes no difference between freedom from discrimination and the implied freedom to rub one's lifestyle in the others' faces. It sees no difference between outright discrimination (such as "no homosexuals allowed" sign at the door) and the person's fundamental right to say "no" to something he doesn't agree with - be that "no, I'm not printing this" or "no, I'm not putting this label on a bouquet". Just like a baker has the right to refuse to put a swastika flag on a cake, a florist has the right to refuse to put a homosexualist banner on a wreath. Saying no to a customer is not discrimination.
A debate has raged on social networking sites and throughout Metro Moncton in the last few days, with one side saying the now-married couple was clearly discriminated against while the other says the shop owner should be allowed to practise her religious beliefs and run her business how she wishes.
Attempts to reach the owner of Petals & Promises Wedding Flowers, Kimberly Evans, were unsuccessful yesterday, and the couple in question has declined to speak to media since the news became public. Attempts to reach the couple's wedding planner, who spoke about the issue earlier in the week, were also unsuccessful.
She says she respects everyone's right to religious freedom so long as it doesn't impede the rights of others, and she feels that anyone getting into business should realize they can't close their doors to a certain segment of the population.
The New Brunswick Human Rights Act prohibits anyone doing business in the province from refusing service to customers based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and a number of other criteria.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
The decision of a Moncton area flower shop owner not to accommodate a perverse couple has reignated the debate: