The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that the First Amendment allows a free-speech exemption to Colorado’s existing nondiscrimination law that would allow a business to deny service to same-sex couples.
In the case—303 Creative LLC v. Elenis—six of the nine justices decided to once again ignore years of precedent and public norms. The court’s decision allows businesses a license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people—a license this case was specifically engineered to create.
The court’s majority emphasized that the ruling is limited to the facts of the case. The case involved an artist who designs websites purported to offer “original,” “customized” and “tailored” creations in a manner “designed to communicate a particular message” that viewers would attribute to the artist. The plaintiff in the case told the court that she had received at least one request from a man named “Stewart” to create a wedding website for him and his fiancé, “Mike.”
Soon after the court’s decision was announced, a journalist for The New Republic magazine tracked down Stewart, who said he not only never made the request, but that he has been married to a woman for 15 years.
This was, in essence, a fake case concerning an imaginary conflict that was specifically engineered to usher in the radical, reckless ruling that is out of touch with the majority of the country. We must remain vigilant not to succumb to this manufactured division.
The most recent polling shows that more than two-thirds of Americans oppose permitting businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ+ people on religious grounds, and eight in 10 support federal nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community. We also know most business owners believe in treating all their customers with dignity and respect. This radical Supreme Court has again proven itself to be wildly out of step with the American people.
This decision comes at a time when LGBTQ+ people are under attack across the country, with more than 500 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation introduced nationwide, and more than 75 of those signed into law. Amid this legislative onslaught, we are also seeing rising anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment and increasing incidents of violence, intimidation and harassment—leading the Human Rights Campaign to declare a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans.
We at Silver State Equality call on all fair-minded business owners to condemn discrimination and stand on the side of equality. LGBTQ+ people are family members, co-workers, business owners, classmates and customers in every community. We will not allow this decision to roll back the equality we deserve and have fought so hard for, and we will continue working side by side with our partners to ensure freedom and inclusion for everyone.
André Wade is the state director of Silver State Equality, Nevada’s statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. SSE brings the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in Nevada and throughout the U.S. It strives to create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ+ people. Silver State Equality is a Nevada-based program affiliated with and supported by the Equality California Institute and Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. Learn more at SilverStateEquality.org.