On Monday, Supreme Court justices voted to hear an appeal from a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because he doesn't support same-sex marriage. If the court rules in the baker's favor, it could legitimize widespread discrimination against the LGBTQ community in the name of "religious freedom."
Jack Phillips, the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, declined to create a cake for Charles Craig and David Mullins in 2012. The couple filed a civil rights complaint, arguing that Phillips discriminated against them because of their sexual orientation. When the state's civil rights commission found in the couple's favor, Phillips appealed and the case made its way toward the Supreme Court. Phillips argued that he was bound to "use his artistic talents to promote only messages that align with his religious beliefs.”
Ironically, the court announced that it would hear the appeal on the anniversary of its historic 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide—and the day after massive LGBTQ pride celebrations in cities around the world. Arguments will happen sometime this fall.
There are no federal laws that require business owners to serve all customers, and 21 states currently have laws that protect people from discrimination based on sexuality. Unfortunately, other states have passed laws designed to protect people who want to discriminate against same-sex and LGBTQ couples. Vice President Mike Pence signed one of these laws while he was governor of Indiana.
LGBTQ advocates have been worried since the 2016 election that President Trump would expand "religious freedom" exemptions to anti-discrimination laws, and while Trump has not done that yet, the Supreme Court could do much of the work for him if it rules in Phillips' favor.
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