We’ve seen a lot of misinformation about Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The enemies of equality see the decision as a license to discriminate based on personal religious beliefs and are calling for lawmakers to pass new religious refusal laws. Here’s what you need to know about the decision:
The ruling is not a defeat for equality. The Supreme Court ruled that a baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple didn’t get a fair hearing from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The commission harshly criticized the baker’s religious beliefs when it should have focused on whether or not his conduct violated the state’s law barring discrimination by businesses open to the public. The Court ruled that the baker was entitled to an impartial hearing.
Nothing in this decision invalidates existing protections for LGBTQ people. The Court went out of its way to acknowledge that government has the power to protect people from discrimination, as Colorado has done with its anti-discrimination law. Although Texas still has no such statewide protections for LGBTQ people, some cities and counties do. If you live in a city or county with a local non-discrimination ordinance, it is still in effect.
But the Court did not rule on the ultimate question—whether people can cite their personal religious beliefs as an excuse for discrimination. The baker and his lawyers at Alliance Defending Freedom asked the Court to create a constitutional license to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Justice Kennedy said the issue “must await further elaboration,” which means this issue is sure to come before the Supreme Court again.
Based on statements to the media Monday, we know the decision has emboldened anti-LGBTQ activists and legislators to pass more discriminatory laws. Now more than ever, we need to act to ensure that all Texans are protected from discrimination at work, in access to housing, and in public spaces like restaurants and stores.
We will be in touch soon with more ways to get involved in our fight to end discrimination and protect LGBTQ rights here in Texas, but if you’d like to keep up with the latest news regarding Masterpiece and our work, Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.
The Team at Equality Texas
We’re working to end discrimination and protect LGBTQ rights here in Texas. Join the fight.