Task Force: Supreme Court cake shop case could roll back LGBT rights half a century; activists speak out
The Washington Post reports:
When is a wedding cake not just a cake, but a statement of profound religious beliefs? That’s the question being debated today at Supreme Court as it hears oral arguments about LGBT rights yet again.
This fight is much different than the one settled two years ago in Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared that states cannot refuse to perform or recognize marriages for two people of the same sex. Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is not explicitly about marriage but rather about whether there can be exemptions to nondiscrimination laws.
While the wedding cake baker is asking for a narrow exemption, the cultural shift revealed is broad: Conservatives have changed how they engage in politics and law, transforming U.S. culture wars.
The question is whether a Colorado cake baker, Jack Phillips, has a First Amendment right to be excused from his state’s nondiscrimination laws, which say that public accommodations — like bakeries — may not refuse to serve people based on characteristics that include race, color, disability, sex or sexual orientation.
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Task Force comments
On the steps of the Supreme Court, the Task Force emphasized how the case would hurt all LGBTQ people — especially people of color and the transgender community.
“This case has the potential to roll us back more than a half-century to a time when LGBTQ people were in the closet, afraid to be ourselves. We refuse to return to those ugly days,” says Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force.
Remarks prepared for SCOTUS protest, December 5, 8-11AM
(Washington, DC, December 5, 2017) — The National LGBTQ Task Force was out at full strength on the steps of the Supreme Court to rally for the court to uphold the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in the lead up to the court hearing oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case is about showing that religion should never be an acceptable reason to refuse services to anyone.
The Masterpiece Cakeshop case is one the most dangerous cases for the LGBTQ community in recent years. Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force described it in stark terms, “This case has the potential to roll us back more than a half-century to a time when LGBTQ people were in the closet, afraid to be ourselves. We refuse to return to those ugly days.”
Naomi Washington-Leapheart, the director of faith work at the Task Force, started the rally off in prayer calling for, “Divine interruption to these attempts to use government to exclude and punish vulnerable communities.” After which she told the crowd, “We will not stand by while our rights are eroded before our eyes! We are here to turn over these tables of discrimination! We are here fight back against bullying done in God’s name. We are here to denounce any notion of piety that compels hospitals and businesses and social service agencies to turn people away. We are here, and we won’t go back!”
Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán, the Task Force’s director of trans and disability justice, told the crowd she and the Task Force were here, not for cake, but for those that are disabled and would be at risk of discrimination if the court ruled in favor of Masterpiece. She spoke about queer homeless youth that would be at risk of increased bigotry and abuse at the hands of those in the foster care system if the court ruled in favor of Masterpiece and for the trans community that would be put at increased danger and would face even greater levels of discrimination.
During Rodríguez-Roldán’s speech, she slammed the plaintiffs and the hate group representing them — Alliance Defending Freedom — for “using God’s name, in vain, as an excuse to perpetuate bigotry and to oppress their fellow human beings. They seek to deny a fundamental promise of this republic: That everyone has the right to be who they are in the world, free of injustice, and oppression.”
Task Force Senior Policy Counsel Candace Bond-Theriault, who was an author of the SCOTUS amici curiae brief that a coalition of groups including the Task Force signed onto, also spoke to the crowd. Bond-Theriault expressed how, “It’s important to consider the sweeping implications that a ruling for Masterpiece Cakeshop will have for LGBTQ people of color.” She spoke about how she understands this personally, telling the crowd, “As a Black queer woman, I know that members of my community will most be harmed if the justices choose corporations over individuals and allow discrimination against protected classes to become constitutionally protected.”
The National LGBTQ Task Force is the oldest national LGBTQ advocacy group in the country. The Task Force builds power, takes action, and creates change to achieve freedom and justice for LGBTQ people and their families. As a progressive social-justice organization, the Task Force works to achieve equality and equity for all and toward a society that values and respects the diversity of human expression and identity.
The National LGBTQ Task Force amici curiae brief was joined by: GLAAD, Basic Rights Oregon, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity, LGBT Technology Partnership, National Coalition for LGBT Health, National Equality Action Team, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, SisterSong: National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Witness to Mass Incarceration.