Out Law by Angela Giampolo

Angela D. Giampolo, principal of Giampolo Law Group, maintains offices in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and specializes in LGBT law, family law, business law, real estate law and civil rights. Her website is www.giampololaw.com and she maintains a blog at www.phillygaylawyer.com. Reach out to Angela with your legal questions at 215-645-2415 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


In early December, SCOTUS heard oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The crux of the case is that bakery owner Jack Phillips sued the CCRC claiming his rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech have been denied when he refused to bake a custom wedding cake for a gay couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins. Citing his religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman, Phillips claims that because he sketches and sculpts his culinary creations, he’s an artist. Therefore, forcing him to make these cakes violated his right to free expression, speech and religious freedom.

It has been quite a roller-coaster year for the LGBT community, with some pretty high highs and some equally low lows. We saw a new president take office, and with it came stalling of the progress LGBT civil rights have made in recent years. That said, organizations like the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign and the Center for Constitutional Rights have had our backs, filing lawsuits on behalf of LGBT citizens to preserve the hard-won protections we’ve fought for.

On Nov. 22, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, released a proposal to kill net neutrality in the United States — and the public released an outcry of epic proportions.

Earlier this summer in “Matal v. Tam” (formerly “Lee v. Tam”), the United States Supreme Court struck down the restriction on the registration of marks that “disparage” under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote unanimously for the eight justices in holding that Section 2(a)’s prohibition on disparaging registrations violates a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.

 

In April, for the first time ever, a full panel of Circuit Court judges in the Seventh District in Illinois ruled that discrimination against employees due to sexual orientation was against Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, finding that discrimination based on orientation falls under discrimination based on sex. The opinion reversed a lower-court decision to throw out the case of an Indiana professor fired for being a lesbian, and set federal-level legal precedent that sex discrimination includes sexual orientation. 

In recent years, when the terms “LGBTQ” and “small business” are discussed in the media, it’s usually in response to a small but vocal minority demanding religious freedom to refuse service to members of the LGBTQ community, and the legal battles that follow. However, perhaps there are more important discussions revolving around business and the LGBTQ community — the power LGBTQ-owned businesses have in furthering equality.

On the final day of its session, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who refuses to make cakes for same-sex weddings on the basis of his “religious beliefs.” Unfortunately, we are going to have to wait to see if “religious freedom” includes the freedom to discriminate as the case likely won’t be argued until late in the next session, which begins in October. 

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