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Friday, September 29, 2017

The Legalization of Discrimination

Written by  David Egan

A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

This fall, the US Supreme Court is going to decide whether or not businesses can legally discriminate against you because of your sexual orientation. The case in question–  Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission –  is likely to be scheduled for oral argument this December.

In July of 2012, two men walked into Jack Phillips’ Colorado cake bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, and asked him to make a wedding cake for them. Phillips refused, saying “I don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings…”. His potential clients brought suit against him. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission decided that Masterpiece Cakeshop was in violation of the state’s public accommodations law. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed that decision. Phillips petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear his case. To the surprise of many, they agreed to do so, despite having refused a similar petition in 2014.

Masterpiece Cakeshop argues that their First Amendment constitutional rights to freedom of speech and the exercise of religion were violated. The success of their argument before the Supreme Court would allow businesses that use artistic skills when serving customers or clients to pick and choose who they could serve based on, among other things, sexual orientation.

In preparation for the hearing, people and organizations who support or oppose the petitioner’s case can file written statements, called “amicus curiae briefs,” that cover what the court defines as “relevant matter” not dealt with by the parties which “may be of considerable help.” Amicus briefs are a way to lobby the judicial branch. They are frequently cited in court decisions and are considered an effective way in which to influence the court’s decisions.

Fifty-one amicus briefs have been filed to date in this case.

Organizations that have filed in support of Masterpiece Cakeshop include: Indiana Family Institute; Cato Institute; US Conference of Catholic Bishops; the United States (yes, our own government!); National Black Religious Broadcasters; National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; members of Congress, including 11 US senators led by Ted Cruz, and 75 members of the House of Representatives; American College of Pediatricians; Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs on behalf of America’s Orthodox Jewish community; Christian Legal Society; Center for Public Justice; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod; National Association of Evangelicals; Rabbinical Council of America; Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; the states of Texas, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana , Maine, Missouri , Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin; and CatholicVote.org.

Briefs filed in opposition to Masterpiece Cakeshop: None.

If you want to preserve your ability to buy freely in the marketplace, act now! Here are some thing to do.

1) Support the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU represents the two men (and by extension, you) against Masterpiece Cakeshop. The ACLU needs money, and lots of it, to win this pivotal case. Your course is simple: contribute to the ACLU (Aclu.org).

2) Join the ACLU’s People Power, to connect with resistance events and support event organizers. Get out in the streets and show your support for freedom from discrimination (Peoplepower.org)!

3) Use the Indivisible Guide to influence members of Congress (IndivisibleGuide.com).

4) Call your elected officials. Ask them to file an amicus brief against the petitioner (USA.gov/elected-officials).

The opposition to same-sex marriage and to the LGBT community has not gone away. Quite the contrary: it is strong, well-financed, and ready to stand before the Supreme Court to guarantee its “freedom” to discriminate against you. We need to continue to use our money and our voices to stop them!

Next time: Writing your own wedding vows.

David Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a historic Baltimore wedding and event venue. Visit chasecourt.com, 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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