SCOTUS reminds us the fight for equality is far from over
“Our nation decided more than 50 years ago, that businesses should be open to all, and today this ruling, while narrow, chips away at our right to equity and our value of being a society where no one should be rejected for being Black, Brown, low-income, a woman, or a member of the LGBTQ community,” stated Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force.
WASHINGTON, DC, June 4, 2018: On June 4, in the case known as Masterpiece Cakeshop, the United States Supreme Court ruled against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for not, in the Court’s view, taking a more neutral stance on religious beliefs. While this limited ruling addressed only the actions of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the National LGBTQ Task Force is both concerned that the Court’s action will lead to future cases that may weaken the rights of LGBTQ people. Yet, we also find solace in the fact that in Justice Kennedy’s ruling he reminded everyone that religious objections alone do not grant a right to deny services to others:
“Nevertheless, while those religious and philosophical objections are protected, it is a general rule that such objections do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.” — Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
“This case was never about cake, it’s about whether religion, or speech that has a religious viewpoint, can override longstanding anti-discrimination laws that have been put in place to prohibit the egregious bigotry business owners historically have displayed towards people of color, women, religious minorities, and LGBTQ people,” stated Candace Bond-Theriault, the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Senior Policy Counsel, Reproductive Health, Rights & Justice and author of the Task Force’s Amicus brief.
“At the end of the day, discrimination is wrong and the Supreme Court held up that view,” Carey stated. “Today’s narrow decision, while disappointing, has to do with the specifics of this particular case. The fight for full equality continues, and this reminds us we must always be vigilant.”