Can businesses just say no?

I have a question. There was appropriate outrage when Arizona and other states considered bills that would allow individuals to not do business other individuals because the transaction would offend their religious sensibilities. For instance, a baker would not be forced to make a wedding cake for a same sex marriage. Now I read that the gay man who has cut New Mexico Gov. Susan Martinez’s hair three times – which, from what I know doesn’t really make him her stylist because most women are more loyal to their stylists than their husbands – refusing to touch another lock on her head because of her opposition to gay marriage.

There is certainly a difference between a state passing a law about such things and individuals choices. And there is a difference between discriminating against someone because of who they are and because of what they believe. But is that it?

I am wondering if there is some other principle that would help me think about these cases. I understand where the hair dresser is coming from but how about the pro-choice barista who won’t serve pro-lifers picketing at the Planned Parenthood office next door or the conservative restaurant owner who won’t sell hamburgers to the Occupy Wall Street people?

The stylist reportedly left a message for the governor saying, “I am going to let all gay people know,” he continued, “stop serving you, stop providing you with what you need.” Is this any different from a boycott?

Basically, should people be able to refuse service to anyone so long as they do not break the law (race, gender, etc.)? From an ethical standpoint are we free simply to support those we agree with and condemn those with whom we disagree?

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