Barry Saunders

If I ran a business, I’d choose profit over bigotry

Party girl Holly Golightly said it best in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” “I do not accept drinks from disapproving gentlemen.”

I am neither L, G, B or T, but if I were, that would be my response to the bakeries, pizzerias, florists or any other businesses whose owners felt uncomfortable with me being me, who felt that their religious objections override the U.S. Constitution. To paraphrase Miss Golightly: I do not accept pizzas, pictures, flowers or wedding cakes from disapproving businesses.

Like most of you, I haven’t read the Constitution since Miss McDuffie’s fourth-grade Social Studies class, so you’ll have to help me out with this one: Was there anything in it declaring that all men are created equal – as long as they don’t sleep with somebody you don’t think they should sleep with?

Didn’t think so.

Apparently envious of the vituperation being directed at the state legislature of Indiana when it tried to codify bigotry against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people, North Carolina’s legislature has proposed something called the Religion Freedom Restoration Act.

The legislation’s supporters say the act will protect people as they exercise the religious liberty guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Critics say it will give legal cover to businesses and individuals who discriminate against gays and lesbians.

N.C.’s brand

House Speaker Tim Moore said our legislature hasn’t decided how to proceed. You know why?

“I think we need to show that if we approve this bill, that it will improve North Carolina’s brand,” Moore said in an interview last week. “Anything we do, we have to make sure we don’t harm our brand.”

Brand? What the heck about our citizens, Tim?

As for harming our brand, though: that ship has sailed.

Now, Ls, Bs, Gs or Ts should demand the rights that are their birthright simply by dint of their being citizens of America. Having secured those rights, if it were me, I’d saunter into the nearest flower shop whose owner gave me the stink eye and tell him just where he could stick his begonias. (That’s guaranteed to be declared illegal.)

When the Supreme Court strikes down that Defense Of Marriage Act later this year and gays are allowed to marry in all 50 states, what gay couple would want their wedding catered by a bigoted caterer or flowered by a disapproving florist?

Anyone who has ever been forced to feign interest when your friend shows off her wedding pictures or jumpy video knows the damage a well-meaning wedding photographer or videographer can do: Just imagine the harm that can be done by one who doesn’t want to be there because he is convinced that the groom and the groom or the bride and the bride are both going to hell?

Don’t frighten horses

Everyone has prejudices, everyone has people with whom they’d prefer not to associate or serve – although if you’re in business, it seems incomprehensible that one’s bigotry would overshadow the profit motive.

Me? I subscribe to the philosophy of the late British actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, who asked, “Does it really matter what these affectionate people do – so long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses?”

Here are people even I, the most open-minded person I know, am naturally predisposed to dislike – at least until I get to know them:

▪ Handsome men who look as though they were high school homecoming kings – you know, dudes who look as though they actually enjoyed high school.

▪ Men who fasten that bottom button on their double-breasted jackets or iron a crease into their jeans.

▪ Parents who let their grubby-fingered progeny play in the chocolate waterfall at Golden Corral, turning my stomach and making me not even want to dip my strawberry in it.

▪ People who wear flip flops in public – despite that $10 pedicure, your toes are still hideous.