If you thought the wedding-cake issue is over, not by a mile. Here in a nutshell is the ruling and the list of changes it could make across the nation affecting race, religion and even states’ rights.
The case: A couple in Colorado went to a baker asking him to make a cake for their same-sex wedding. He refused based on his religious beliefs.
The Supreme Court ruled in his favor.
Now let’s look at the results of that ruling and what the ruling did and did not do: First, it calls into question all those LGBT nondiscrimination laws in states and cities across the country since the court found that the baker’s religious rights were higher than the Colorado LGBT nondiscrimination law.
But here’s the real damage: The ruling allows almost anyone to discriminate for a variety of reasons due to his or her religion. Some religions do not allow interracial marriage — the baker, hotel, florist, etc., can now all discriminate. What about devout Catholics, Jews and Muslims refusing to give housing, employment or public accommodations to other religions based on their beliefs? So the court opened a can of worms, but again it left the barn door open in its ruling, stating that “gay people’s rights and dignity must be respected.” So what does that mean?
Last month during the signing ceremony at The Smithsonian as I donated my personal papers and artifacts, there was a question-and-answer part of the program. The question was, “What is the most important issue for the LGBT community?” I replied, “The Equality Act — something that has lingered since first introduced in 1974. The act is known by several names since it has lingered. Its importance might have changed this ruling. Simply put, the act adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in the United States that include race, creed, religion and sex. Without it, we can still be discriminated against by that baker, candlestick-maker or hotel manager. All they have to say is, “It’s against my religious beliefs.”
Time to get our priorities in order.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarkSegalPGN or Twitter @PhilaGayNews.