Change can be very disorienting. It can be hard to reconcile how the world was when you first began to understand it with how the world is now. For instance, you might have grown up in a time when it was acceptable to scream homophobic slurs out the window of your car at people you suspected might be gay, whereas now it’s very nearly almost legal for those same homosexuals to get married in Australia.

For some, coming to terms with that change means broadening your perspective and attempting to empathise with the parties involved. For others, it means digging your heels into the dirt and trying to resist it in increasingly incoherent ways. Even with Australia resoundingly saying ‘yes’ to marriage equality, the scattered remnants of the ‘no’ campaign are still trying to piss on everyone else’s parade, namely by ensuring that they never, ever have to acknowledge that they lost.

Resigned to the fact that marriage equality will be legislated, conservatives are focusing on what they believe to be the key issue of the bill: making sure Australia’s existing anti-discrimination laws don’t apply to you if you’re choosing not to provide a wedding-adjacent service to gay people. While this might sound so ridiculous as to almost be offensive, don’t worry: staunch culture warrior and militant columnist Miranda Devine has provided a gravely serious, concrete, real-world example that should put to bed any concerns you might have about this being total nonsense.

In a particularly diarrheic outpouring in the Daily Telegraph laughably titled ‘Yes vote means a new minority needs protection‘, Devine introduces us to Belinda, an “outspoken No voter who owns a beauty salon in Perth“. Belinda (not her real name) was going about her day on Wednesday last week when she was “floored by a gay wedding request“. According to Devine, Belinda received a Facebook message on the salon page from a man named Brad, asking if he and his partner could get all their stuff waxed:

My partner Chris and I have started planning our big day for Jan now the vote thing is over, So excited! We’re looking for a discreet boutique to do a full body wax to make our honeymoon extra special. Do you offer deals?

Yep, truly horrifying stuff. Belinda, who is opposed to gay marriages because of her Catholicism, says she believes the whole thing to be a gee up:

It’s not genuine. They know I’m an active No voter and they think they can goad me… Are they going to turn up at the shop tomorrow? Where do I stand now if there are people out there deliberately trying to force me to participate in gay weddings?

It’s that classic prank you know and love: asking someone who provides a service in exchange for money if they can provide that service in exchange for money. In answer to the second of your rhetorical questions, Belinda, I would say you stand in a pretty weird position if running your business requires you to ask everyone who gets their balls waxed if they are doing it because they are attending a gay wedding.

So it seems like the first big example we have of someone being forced to act against their conscience is someone… not actually being forced to act against their conscience? Not a hugely compelling argument. Labor is destined to cede some ground on this issue and there will very likely be some protections written into the final version of Dean Smith‘s bill, but it’s disappointing that we’re in a climate where it’s somehow acceptable to single out a form of discrimination we think is OK.