A recent appellate court ruling upheld a $135,000 fine levied at an Oregon bakery for refusing to bake the cake for a gay wedding in 2013.
This news reminded me of Gary Johnson’s position he took on the issue in the Fox Business Libertarian Presidential Forum hosted by John Stossel leading up to the 2016 election. Austin Petersen called Johnson out on his position regarding business owners’ right to serve who they want. Johnson doubled-down. Here’s the exchange between Petersen and Johnson:
Governor Johnson has stated that bakers should be forced to bake wedding cakes for people that they disagree with, homosexual couples. And this is a big problem because we’re running for president as a Libertarian.
Is he correctly quoting you?
Yes, but I think that if you discriminate on the basis of religion, I think that that is a black hole. Look, I think you should be able to discriminate for stink or you’re not wearing shoes or whatever. But, I’ll tell you what, if we discriminate on the basis of religion, to me, that’s doing harm to a big class of people and right now-
Should a Jewish baker be required to bake a Nazi wedding cake?
Johnson went on to answer “yes” when Stossel asked for an answer to Petersen’s question. Johnson cited fears of a utility company who was the only provider in an area refusing service to a minority. Petersen responded,
This portrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the free market. You have to allow the marketplace to work. The government cannot stamp out bigotry.
Gary Johnson went on to become the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee. This was a failure on the part of Johnson and the LP establishment by throw property rights out of the window to attract more politically-correct voters. I think this was the beginning of the unraveling of the LP. Austin Petersen has since left the LP and is currently running as a Republican for Senator in Missouri. It makes me wonder if libertarians missed an opportunity to stand up for private property rights as the LP nominated Johnson whose position on this issue is a clear violation of property rights. The appellate court ruling against the bakers in Oregon should serve as a reminder to libertarians: this is what happens when you don’t stand for property rights and free markets.