Let’s say you own a grocery store. Because you think smoking is an unhealthy habit, you make the decision that your store shouldn’t sell cigarettes or other tobacco-related products. However, you happen live in a state where a lot of people choose to smoke. Because smokers have a lot of political clout, they convince the state legislature that their “right” to buy cigarettes supersedes your right as a store owner to choose which products to sell. In response, the legislature passes a law that says every grocery store in the state must sell cigarettes and other tobacco products – even if the store owner has personal or moral objections to selling them.
What if you decide to sell tobacco products but have an employee that finds smoking or using tobacco immoral and refuses to sell them when customers ask to purchase them? Should you be able to fire the employee or should his religious or moral beliefs supplant your right to sell legal products to customers?
In a perfect world most people would recognize that the law passed in the first example is tyrannical and would be outraged that a store would be forced to sell a product the owner finds objectionable.
In the second example most people would realize no one has a right to a job; therefore, if an employee objects to a product that a business sells, the employee is free to find work elsewhere.
Sadly, we live in a time when most people choose to be victims and believe that when one of their “rights” has been violated they should be able to force their supposed rights on others via laws, regulations, or judicial fiat. When that happens, you get laws like the one that went into effect this week in Washington state that pits the rights of drugstore owners, employees, and consumers against each other.