Thank you, Justice Kennedy et al, for throwing us into a modern day Animal Farm, where some are "more equal than others."
In the June 4, 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission), baker Jack Phillips has been exonerated for refusing to offer his professional services to all citizens equally. He now has permission to discriminate against gays.
Kennedy, writing for the majority, said that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (which had ruled against Phillips), had not given due consideration for Phillips’ religious concerns. Kennedy believes the Commission disparaged Phillips’ religious argument, and possibly even his religious beliefs. So because Phillips might have been mistreated by his own state’s regulators, the federal government says he can mistreat gay people.
Kennedy added wording implying that this was a one-off case and that future cases in this category might not be ruled similarly. And to that I call, “Coward.”
There is nothing in the SCOTUS ruling to stop future cases from using this case as a precedent in support of religious extremists. For Kennedy to pretend otherwise is disingenuous and craven.
In Colorado, state law provides protection against discrimination based on disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry. What it does not protect against is religion discriminating against anyone, and yet that is the very protection SCOTUS just handed Phillips.
A Religious Free Ride: "Christians Only"
The LGBTQ community has come more and more into the gunsights of the religious "right" since the current president began his campaign. This is just one more bullet.
But—what if it weren’t a gay couple we were talking about?
Let's say Phillips subscribes to a white-supremacist religion in which people of color are deemed to be not quite human, and the engaged couple who walk into his shop is black. If he had refused to serve them, what would have happened? I suggest that if we think the chaos in Charlottesville was disturbing, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Allowing a business to turn away customers because they are black could easily start a race war that would spread across the country.
Or, say Phillips belongs to a fundamentalist Islamist sect in which women must be covered, must not go into public alone, must not speak to a man until spoken to, and must not conduct business on behalf of a man. A woman wearing Western-style clothing walks into his stop expecting to do business. He refuses to serve her. What happens next? I doubt that Kennedy et al would say, "Sure, that's fine, go ahead and discriminate against women." Even if SCOTUS agreed to hear this case, there's no way the baker would get a green light to deny the civil rights of a whole segment of society.
According to the Washington Post, Kennedy wrote: “religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, implying that religious beliefs and persons are less than fully welcome in Colorado’s business community.”
Um… excuse me? WHO is it who’s not welcome? Jack Phillips can proclaim his religious beliefs to all and sundry; that’s his right. But when SCOTUS says he can turn gay people away from his business, what kind of business is being promoted? I submit that it’s not one that Kennedy would have supported if Phillips’ religion were against people of Irish ancestry.
What SCOTUS should have done, given that Kennedy was so concerned about Phillps getting a fair shake, is to send the case back to Colorado for a re-trial under the condition that all parties’ concerns were given equal respect and consideration.
All Jack Phillips has to do if his religion is against marriage equality is not to marry a man. But where are the rights of citizens not to have others’ religion forced onto them? That famous first amendment guarantees us all this right—even “the gays.” And for pity's sake, Justice Kennedy. IT'S PRIDE MONTH!
I've heard a number of pundits insist that this ruling is not as dire as it sounds. And actually, that's probably true. Because as abominable as this ruling is, it isn’t the end of the world for gays. It’s just another day in the life.