Good music and superior mixologists.
There are certain grounds on which discrimination suits can be validly brought. Sexual orientation is one, political affiliation is not. Technically you can be fired for being a Democrat or Republican; whether the EEOC would see that as unjust termination is uncertain.
I think there’s a lesser standard for bars, but it depends on whether they’re considered places of public accomodation (like, if they’re not open til 11 pm and don’t serve food, just liquor, vs they’re open for dinner and serve food as well) or simply services.
I’m inclined to think the bar is allowed to restrict based on stated political actions; if a council member tried to use eminent domain to force your bar to close, and then took a seat at the bar, could you justifiably tell him to take a hike?
There, I think, is a careful distinction. Every business provides some kind of service, true, but participation in a ceremony is something different.
I give full credence to the concept that a minister should be protected from performing something against his or her conscience in the exercise of official duties. This was the content of a Tennessee law, not sure if it passed. A rabbi may refuse to perform a wedding between a Muslim woman and a Christian man, on the very honest basis that neither of them are Jewish. A priest may refuse to perform a wedding for a couple with one spouse whose prior marriage was not annulled, on the basis of priority of Canon Law. So clergy may justifiably discriminate - and, even as detestable as it sounds, a denomination that believes racial intermarriage to be a sin cannot be compelled to perform a mixed-race wedding. So I think that fundamentally the consciences of clergy are protected from being forced to perform gay marriages - and likewise their respective institutions are free to penalize them for performing or refusing to perform, whichever goes against the stated duties and expectations of the church.
But houses of religion are distinct from businesses in that they’re not truly bound by the idea of being “public” places. You can walk into a shop and just browse around, walking between aisles, flipping through magazines, but a priest is allowed to ask you to leave or at least sit down once Mass begins. If someone takes offense at what a pastor says in a sermon, they don’t have grounds to sue her over it. There may not be legal precedent or term for it - and Lord help us if we get to the point that churches are told they can’t act like churches - but I think the expectation is that attending church services, or attending classes, or attending a movie, elicits different behavior than going to a bar or a hotel or a restaurant or a strip club. And the proprietor reserves the right to enforce expected behavior.
Again, that’s behavior, not belief. Can I ban a known pedophile (say I know him from the sex offender registry) from sitting in the Playland by himself at the McDonald’s I franchise? Absolutely, because he makes me and everyone else in there uncomfortable. I’d have less of a case if he sat with his wife in a booth away from that area.
I will defend freedom of conscience in other areas, but I think the provider’s right needs to have a reasonable limitation. Not serving a gay couple in a restaurant is odd and stupid - from my own experience waiting tables, one of my favorite regulars was a lesbian couple who told me that ours was the only restaurant in town they felt welcome. My duty is to take their order, make them feel welcome, and let them otherwise be. But they didn’t ask me to officiate their wedding. Can I serve this table without violating my conscience? Absolutely. I’m of the mind that even pedophiles and serial killers have the right to eat. That said, I did ask a family who insisted on sitting their kids at my bar to leave - I didn’t like them putting a 2-year-old in a bar stool tall enough that I couldn’t reach the floor, nor talking to their 5 and 8-year-olds about how good certain liquors were. They complained, the manager offered them a table, expressing the same concern. I followed up with the local police department, asking whether it was legal for a restaurant to ask kids not to sit at the bar. I was told that our conscience was respected in this, so long as safety concerns were satisfied.
The problem with arguing conscience is, as some have pointed out, its openness for abuse. That makes it hard to set limits.
Say you run a small community bank, catering to local small businesses and families primarily. Can you turn down a loan to a gun store? To a smut store? Unfortunately, it seems that your personal opposition to firearms or pornography being honored would depend upon who is looking at your case, which abrogates an objective decision.
Consider a convenience store owner who has an obviously young girl (say 10 years old) come in to buy a condom. Must the owner sell this, knowing that its to be used in the commission of what is objectively a crime (since the girl can’t give consent) and, by any decent moral calculus, the abuse of a child? I suppose the “easy” way out is to call the police and ask for protection for the child, but otherwise there is no required age for the prophylactic so no legitimate reason to not sell it (nor, really, does the clerk have the legal right to ask for ID to verify age).