We are in support of equality
Fifty years ago this week, the Supreme Court issued one of its fastest rulings ever in a landmark case, Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises. Piggie Park, a small barbeque chain which is still open today, wanted the right to refuse service to African American customers. The owner, a segregationist, claimed that the Civil Rights Act violated his religious freedom. The Supreme Court delivered a resounding rebuke of the barbeque chain on March 18, 1968, definitively ruling that restaurant could no longer discriminate.
Now, fifty years later, in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the bakery is claiming that the state’s nondiscrimination law, which requires him to serve same-sex couples, unconstitutionally violates his religious beliefs. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. In the near future/coming months, the Supreme Court will announce its decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case – a case that will decide whether businesses that are open to the public can refuse to serve LGBT people in violation of laws that protect all of us from discrimination.
When deciding cases, Supreme Court Justices don’t only listen to the attorneys’ arguments. They also take statements of support into account. We’re joining with many other organizations to launch a sign-on letter in support of equality for all – will you add your name?
Here's the letter:
On Dec. 5, 2017, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, a case that has the potential to shatter longstanding non-discrimination laws. Protecting people from discrimination is part of our country’s promise of equal treatment under the law for everyone. As a nation, we decided decades ago that businesses open to the public should be open to everyone on the same terms, and that no one should be turned away simply because of who they are.
This case isn’t about the cake. It’s about whether businesses can, in effect, post signs reading “we don’t serve your kind here.”
A ruling that our Constitution gives businesses the right to refuse service to customers based on religious beliefs or so-called artistic freedom would be an unprecedented setback for civil rights in our country. It would say there is a constitutional right to discriminate—which could be used not only against LGBTQ people but also against people of color and religious minorities, unmarried couples, single mothers, young people, people with disabilities and many, many others.
We, the undersigned, are in solidarity with the plaintiffs in this case, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, who are simply seeking to be treated like everyone else.