Opinion: Protect the speech you hate, not just the speech you love
This article is part of an ongoing opinion series featuring members of the university’s College Republicans organization. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual contributor, and are not representative of the College Republicans as a group.
Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing an article continually surfacing on my Facebook feed titled “Canada’s supreme court rules that LGBt rights come before your religious beliefs.” Many of my liberal friends have been sharing this to point out that the result of the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which decided that a Christian cake shop owner has the right to deny making a wedding cake for a gay couple, was an example of the prevalence of homophobia in the United States.
The narrative is that through the decision for the Law Society of British Columbia v. Trinity Western University case, Canada is denying homophobia and making a firm statement that the rights of the LGBT community are more important the religious beliefs, something that the U.S. was not willing to do. However, upon taking a closer look, the cases are founded on the same logic and legal background, but the parties were different.
For reference, the story of the Canadian case is that Trinity Western University, a Catholic university, was opening a law school and wanted to be accredited by law societies throughout the country. Trinity Western is an all-boys school that requires every student to sign a pledge saying they will not engage in premarital sex or any homosexual acts. Their application to become an accredited university was denied on the basis that their university is homophobic. Trinity Western then sued the Law Society of British Columbia for religious discrimination, and when the case went before the Canadian Supreme Court, Trinity Western lost.
But it’s not a win for the LGBTQ community as the left paints it out to be. Neither the university and nor the law society are governmental organizations and as private citizens they each have the right to discriminate as they want. Trinity Western can discriminate against gay men and the law society can discriminate against the university for their religious beliefs. Therefore, the Canadian Supreme Court does not have the power to force the Law Society of British Columbia to accept the university’s application for accreditation.
Similarly, the U.S. Supreme Court cannot force Masterpiece Cakeshop to bake a cake for a gay couple. In both cases, a private entity is denying another private entity of a service and the government should never be able to step in and change this.
Additionally, in both cases we are dealing with luxuries, not necessities. Both the U.S. and Canada have passed legislation to prevent discrimination on the basis of race, sex and sexual orientation in the workplace, education and housing because these things are necessities for everybody. In these situations, discrimination is legally not allowed but in terms of dealing with the exchange of luxuries between private individuals, discrimination is a constitutional right and this has been upheld in both cases.
The only difference between these two cases is that in one the homophobic party is doing the discriminating and in the other the homophobic party is being discriminated against. While the left can cheer one as a victory and the other as an abomination, they are founded on the same legal logic.
As a member of the LGBT community, it is hard for me to support free speech for people who disagree with my way of life, but free speech is designed to protect the speech we hate, not the speech we love. When the government starts censoring the words or actions of private citizens and corporations, it is a slippery slope toward tyranny and I do not want to see this country head in that direction anytime soon.
Free speech is one of the hallmarks of America and I will continue to defend it for the LGBT community, for Catholic institutions, for my fellow Republicans, for Democrats, and for anyone else in this country. That is what America stands for.
Rebekah Allan is the Secretary of the Delaware Federation of College Republicans. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.