“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
-1ST Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The right to associate, or to not, has created such a stir that it has caused some lawmakers to force otherwise law abiding citizens to break the law by not sharing air with their disturbing brethren.
We have the freedom to pretty much do as we please, as long as it does not interfere with another’s, as far as it pertains to our person-hood.
We have a general understanding that we are not to be forced by The Federal Government to “associate” our thoughts, or our being, with anything that is incongruent with our self-actualized identity. Further, that we have not the power, through any government or personal conquest, to force others to bend to our thoughts or actions until a time as we can persuade them on such through the exchange of agreed upon goods, service or due process.
The problem has seemed to have presented itself where some of our fellow citizens have confused the word “association” with the word “acceptance.” The Freedom to acceptance exists nowhere in The United States Constitution. You are free to disassociate yourself with my thoughts and properties, just as I am free to run away screaming from yours. You have the freedom and the right to organize a large group of supporters to stand up for your right to be you just as I am to create the same to denigrate you doing so. The critical line is drawn at me forcing you, through the power of government, to shut your mouth on either side of the equation.
What seems to have happened is that we have become lazy and have come to a general conclusion (not legal) that those things, with which we do not agree that make us uncomfortable, are included in this protection. They are not, and never were. One of the most fundamental protections of The First Amendment is the right to be unpopular or wrong. This includes being hateful or counter-cultural. It also includes being traditional, religious or old-fashioned.
I think it is important to recognize that while you may not agree with who I am, I may not agree with who you are and that neither of us has the right to empower our government to force us to see it any differently.