A chill has just fallen upon the markets in Vermont as business owners can now be forced to do business against their consciences. A Roman Catholic family was recently sued by two lesbians from New York who wanted to use The Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville, Vermont as the site for a homosexual “wedding” reception. An employee from the inn informed the inquirers of the owners’ feeling about hosting such a reception and politely turned them down.
That polite refusal brought down the wrath of the ACLU and Vermont Human Rights Commission upon Jim and Mary O’Reilly, who could not match the resources the two giants brought against them. They settled out of court, giving $10,000 to the commission and $20,000 to a charitable trust run by two lesbians. They also agreed not to host any more receptions.
It seems painfully clear that liberals are content with abrogating the freedoms of some in order to enforce the “freedoms” of others in the name of equality. The implications of this decision are chilling.
Business can only operate in an atmosphere of freedom, and contract without coercion. The recent decision against the O’Reillys demonstrates how government is dictating the terms of a contract to owners and with whom they must do business. If owners insist upon honoring their consciences, they must either conform, or get out the business altogether.
Another consequence of this decision is that it sends the message that owners can expect to see an array of disproportional powers brought against them. Small owners now know they can be punished by government and have legal action taken against them if they dare disagree with the homosexual agenda. So much for land of the free.
Finally, business owners are now feeling the tyranny of an ideological agenda that has entered into the markets and violates all the rules, exercising a kind of commercial “terrorism” against any who oppose it. Business owners in Vermont now know that all it takes is a single phone call from an out of state activist to shut down their operations. As in the case of O’Reilly’s Wildflower Inn, an activist need not even speak to the owners but to a mere employee, and they may see their life’s work threatened.
In such an atmosphere of intimidations, markets cannot be free. The chilling message taken from this case against the Wildflower Inn is that the free market in Vermont is no longer free.