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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 8, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 23
In response to this week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling
Section One
ALL STORIES
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In response to this week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling

Dear GSBA members and friends,
This morning [Monday, June 4, 2018] the United States Supreme Court ruled with a 7-2 vote in favor of a Colorado baker, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., who claimed religious objections to baking a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

While this decision is upsetting, we remain hopeful that this particular case was decided on narrow grounds based on the process in Colorado rather than on the major issues around discrimination. The Court's decision did reaffirm the core principle that business open to the public must be open to all. To be clear, the Court did not accept arguments that would have rolled back equality.

ACLU, who argued the case, issued the following statement:

Supreme Court upholds basic principles of nondiscrimination, reverses Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court today reaffirmed the core principle that businesses open to the public must be open to all in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The court did not accept arguments that would have turned back the clock on equality by making our basic civil rights protections unenforceable, but reversed this case based on concerns specific to the facts here. The American Civil Liberties Union argued the case on behalf of Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who were refused service at a Colorado bakery because they are a same-sex couple.

In 2012, Mullins and Craig visited the Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a cake for their wedding. After the bakery turned the would-be customers away because they were a same-sex couple, Mullins and Craig filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The commission found that the bakery had discriminated against the couple in violation of Colorado law, a decision the Colorado courts upheld. The Supreme Court today found that members of the Commission had made statements evidencing anti-religious bias, and thus had not given a fair consideration to the bakery's claims.

'The court reversed the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision based on concerns unique to the case but reaffirmed its longstanding rule that states can prevent the harms of discrimination in the marketplace, including against LGBT people.' said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU.

More information on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-colorado-civil-rights-commission

What this means
The Court decided that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had not given fair consideration to the bakery's claims.

What this doesn't mean
The court did NOT rule that the Constitution gives a right to discriminate.

Religious objections are not an excuse for discrimination - businesses open to the public must be open to all. Attorney General Bob Ferguson has reiterated that this case changes nothing in Washington state. 'Same-sex couples in Washington state will continue to enjoy protections against discrimination, and I will continue to enforce our state's law against discrimination.'

What you can do
o Attend the GSBA Public Policy Task Force to learn more about small business and LGBTQ advocacy issues, and how to engage with your government.

o Contact the Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit of the Office of the Attorney General if you experience any denial of service at a business.

More resources
o Supreme Court of the United States Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., et al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission et al. decision. - https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/584/16-111/

o Washington State Attorney General press release re: SCOTUS ruling - http://www.atg.wa.gov/news/news-releases/ag-ferguson-response-us-supreme-court-ruling-colorado-discrimination-case

o NGLCC press release re: SCOTUS ruling - http://nglcc.org/press-release/nglcc-decries-scotus-masterpiece-cakeshop-ruling-will-continue-asserting-american

While we are certain that some people may try to use this ruling as a reason to discriminate, we want to repeat - discrimination is never legal in Washington State.

We share the comments of our national partner, NGLCC co-founder & President, Justin Nelson:

'The success of America's society and economy depend on us upholding the social contract of mutual accountability and respect, yet the Supreme Court has now given a path toward state-sanctioned license to discriminate in this country. The LGBT community is a vital part of the American economy and deserves equal treatment under the law, and NGLCC will continue to advocate for our community's right to live their lives free from discrimination in their places of business and in their local communities.'

GSBA will remain vigilant in ensuring that LGBTQ equality is not rolled back, diminished, or otherwise threatened. That is, and always will be our commitment to you.

For Equality,

Louise Chernin
President & CEO
Greater Seattle Business Association

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NAACP statement on Supreme Court decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
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