Friday, July 07, 2017

The Legal Backlash Against Same-Sex Marriage

Written by  David Egan

Same-sex marriage is under attack on several fronts. The conservative opposition has not sat idly by since the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Far from it. There were 85 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced by legislators in 28 states in 2016. This year there were 100 more.

Two of the most dangerous attacks are working their way through the courts right now.

Remember Masterpiece Cakeshop? Despite the Supreme Court having refused to hear a similar case three years ago brought by a wedding photographer claiming her First Amendment right to freedom of speech was violated, they’ve chosen to hear Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission this fall, with a decision to follow in 2018.

If cake baker Jack Phillips wins his case, we won’t be far away from having a federal law that will allow businesses to discriminate against you in the name of their “religious beliefs.” Want a wedding cake? Not from this baker, nor catering from “x” company, or photographs from “y,” or flowers from “z.”

Why did the Supreme Court chose to hear Phillips’s case? Perhaps it’s the influence of the conservative political climate, or the Republican-controlled Congress, or of Justice Gorsuch being added to the bench (even though he’s a one-for-one replacement on the conservative side). No matter. It’s going to happen.

In Mississippi, a law has been affirmed by a federal appeals court that would, among other things, allow clerks and judges to refuse to marry same-sex couples, allow private businesses to refuse to serve LGBTQ people if doing so somehow involves “recognition of” a same-sex marriage, and allow gay couples who attempt to celebrate their wedding or anniversary in a restaurant in Mississippi to be lawfully ejected.

This law, which the Republican governor of Mississippi fully supports, is considered to be the widest-reaching and most onerous of its kind in the country. It’s also the model for federal legislation –  the First Amendment Defense Act –  that Republications have waiting in the wings for just the right moment.

What can you do to fight all of this? How do you influence the Supreme Court?

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), says that, “Judges make independent decisions based on the law, but they look around at what’s going on around them and that changes their hearts and minds. Judges live in communities, and so a lot of what [they] are responding to is seeing people in the streets, seeing the protests and the press reports.”

Here are six ways you can make a difference:

1. Support the American Civil Liberties Union. Attorneys for the ACLU represent the same-sex couple (and by extension, you) against Masterpiece Cakeshop. They need money, and lots of it, to win this pivotal case. Your course is simple: contribute to the ACLU.
2. Join the ACLU’s People Power, a grassroots member-mobilization project for connecting people with resistance events and supporting people who want to create those events. Get out in the streets and show your support for freedom from discrimination!
3. Support Lambda Legal in their legal, education and advocacy work across the country.
4. Use the Indivisible Guide to influence members of congress and contribute to their work.
5. Be in touch with your elected officials at all levels: local, state, and national. Make your thoughts and feelings known. Write and, more importantly, call. Calling forces them to take time with you—which has more meaning than you might think—and brings them into dialogue. That matters.
6. Work toward supporting Democratic Congressional candidates in the mid-term elections in 2018. Do everything you can to end Republican control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Next time: more on choosing wedding professionals.

David Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a historic Baltimore wedding and event venue. Visit, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook! Send your comments and questions to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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