Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, ruling in favor of a bakery that refused to sell a cake to a same-sex couple. However, in its decision, the Court did state that the principle of nondiscrimination is an important one, and placed the impetus for their decision on the initial action of the defendants, who they ruled violated the Free Expression Clause.
Although not a sweeping loss, the decision renews the call for federal protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Federal legislation, including the Equality Act, is currently pending in the United States Congress to correct this injustice.
Mayors in our coalition will no doubt be greatly discouraged by today’s decision, as it provides a continuing problem regarding the treatment of LGBTQ people. The majority opinion in Masterpiece, in fact, runs counter to the views of a supermajority of Americans – a recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that six in ten Americans (60%) oppose allowing a small business owner in their state to refuse products or services to gay or lesbian people if providing them would violate their religious beliefs.
Before Masterpiece was heard at the Court, and with the guidance of Freedom for All Americans, our Mayors Against LGBTQ Discrimination coalition elevated the voices of municipal leaders in an amicus brief that included more than 150 mayors representing 50 million constituents from big cities and smaller municipalities across the country. Read the brief here.
The day of arguments at the Court, December 5, over 30 mayors signed a statement as part of the #OpentoAll movement, comprised of municipalities, businesses, and other groups. The statement said, in part:
“As mayors of cities large and small, we hold a special responsibility to protect our residents and ensure their equal participation in public life. Discrimination, whatever the cause, serves no purpose but to divide our communities. Equality for our LGBTQ residents does not reduce our freedom of speech nor our religious expression – it enhances it.”
In addition, several members of our coalition wrote op-eds, speaking in favor of the principle of nondiscrimination and supporting the couple at the center of the case; among them, Lydia Lavelle of Carrboro, NC, Chris Roberts of Shoreline, WA, and our group of co-chairs, including Ed Lee of San Francisco who tragically passed away before the end of 2017.
The fight is far from over: We must continue working for our vision of a future where no one faces discrimination because of who they are. For now, the most important thing you can do is to voice your support of LGBTQ people and speak out against the ruling: share our Facebook and Twitter posts on your social media.
With your support, we will keep fighting to make nondiscrimination a reality for all LGBTQ people nationwide.
Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination is a program of Freedom for All Americans, the campaign to secure LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections nationwide.