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Ahead of Supreme case, leaders, advocates unite to affirm businesses should be open to all
From a press release
2018-03-16

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Washington, D.C. — Celebrities, civil rights leaders, LGBT advocates, hundreds of businesses, faith leaders, and many others are uniting to celebrate "Open To All Week," affirming that businesses open to the public should be open to all — and not given a license to discriminate. "Open To All Week" coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1968 landmark civil rights decision in Newman v. Piggie Park ( which observed businesses could not discriminate against African Americans ), and comes at an urgent moment as the court is now preparing to hand down its decision in a similar case ( Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission ), involving a Colorado business that refused service to a same-sex couple. Influencers, civil rights leaders, and others this week are tweeting out selfies, holding "Open To All" signs to highlight what's at stake in the Masterpiece case, and how a loss would threaten the legacy of the Piggie Park decision.

Celebrities Rally Around #OpenToAll

"Nobody should be refused service just because of who they are or who they love," tweeted George Takei, who is among the many celebrity voices taking to Twitter this week, using the hashtag #OpenToAll to highlight what's at stake. Other celebrity voices joining the effort include Andy Cohen ( Bravo's Watch What Happens Live ), who recorded a video talking about #OpenToAll, Matt Bomer ( White Collar, Magic Mike ), Wilson Cruz ( My So-Called Life ), Jill Soloway ( creator of the Amazon original series Transparent ), Ross Matthews ( Chelsea Lately, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno ), Alysia Reiner ( Orange Is The New Black ), Sara Ramirez ( Grey's Anatomy, Madam Secretary ), Ashley Williams ( How I Met Your Mother ), Dustin Lance Black ( Milk ), Robbie Rogers ( United States men's national soccer team ), Drew Seeley ( High School Musical, Pitch Perfect ), and Nate Berkus ( The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Nate Berkus Show ), among many others.

Civil Rights + National Leaders Join #OpenToAll

Beyond the entertainment community, other prominent voices — including civil rights leaders, LGBT advocates, and other national political figures — are chiming in on the #OpenToAll front as well, including the Rev. Al Sharpton ( MSNBC's PoliticsNation ), Sen. Tammy Baldwin ( U.S. Senate ), Vanita Gupta ( Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights ), Rep. Mark Pocan ( U.S. House of Representatives ), and the Rev. Marie Alford-Harkey ( Religious Institute ), among many others.

Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund ( LDF ): "Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court rejected the use of religion as a justification for discrimination against Black restaurant customers in LDF's historic case Newman v. Piggie Park, a decision that helped destroy segregation in public accommodations. And yet, we find ourselves re-litigating these issues today, on behalf of a same-sex couple. A loss in Masterpiece Cakeshop would not only undermine the legal precedent set by Piggie Park, it would call into question civil rights protections shielding millions of Americans from discrimination, and could have serious consequences for people of color, LGBTQ people, and many others."

Jim Obergefell, lead plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges: "Through a series of landmark Supreme Court decisions, including my own, the court has cemented a legacy of love, affirming that same-sex couples, as all other couples, are worthy of the same protections and privileges afforded every other couple. Because of those decisions, we are free to love whom we love, and to understand what it truly means to achieve equal dignity in the eyes of the law. I hope in the coming months the court continues building on its legacy in the forthcoming decision in the Masterpiece case, by recognizing the significance of loving couples achieving equal dignity, and the importance of committing ourselves to the people we love, free from discrimination, humiliation, and indignity."

Louise Melling, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU: "The Supreme Court observed 50 years ago in its landmark civil rights case Newman v. Piggie Park that businesses don't have a constitutional right to discriminate against people just because of who they are. In the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, we are asking the court to hold that businesses that open their doors to the public must serve everyone on the same terms. Any other ruling would undermine the court's previous rulings, with consequences for millions of Americans, including LGBT people, people of color, women, and many more."

"Open To All" Coalition Unveils New Ads

As part of "Open To All Week", the nationwide Open To All campaign ( which includes more than 140 racial justice, civil rights, LGBT, faith, labor, and allied organizations ) has partnered with the Movement Advancement Project and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to unveil a new public education ad ( "Will We Go Back?" ) that looks at how the Masterpiece case could roll back the historic ruling in Piggie Park.

"Piggie Park wasn't just about barbeque. And Masterpiece isn't just about cake," said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project. "Businesses and their owners have a right to their religious beliefs—but that freedom shouldn't give businesses a license to discriminate."

More Than 750 Small Businesses Voice Their Support For #OpenToAll

Additionally, more than 750 small businesses across the country are voicing their support for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections as the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark decision in Piggie Park, signing onto a pledge affirming their opposition to discrimination and their belief that businesses should be #OpenToAll.

"Small business leaders from every corner of the nation and all walks of life are coming together to send an important message: businesses that are open to the public must be open to all," said Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans, which organized and led the pledge effort. "Strong businesses lead to strong communities. We will truly live up to our nation's promise of equal opportunity when businesses of all sizes can thrive and everyone is free to live their lives free from discrimination."

About Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is a case about whether laws against discrimination can continue to be enforced without sweeping exemptions. It involves a business that is open to the public refusing service to a couple because they are gay. In July 2012, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, together with Charlie's mother Debbie Munn, went to Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Denver-area bakery, to purchase a cake for their wedding reception. After they informed the bakery's owner that they were a same-sex couple, he told them he would not serve them. Because of his religious beliefs, he said he would provide such services only to heterosexual couples. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which found the bakery had violated Colorado law. The bakery admits that it had a policy of refusing service to gay couples seeking wedding cakes, but argues that it has a constitutional right to discriminate based on religious and free speech grounds. The Colorado state courts rejected this argument. The bakery sought review of the state ruling by the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case on December 5. The question before the Supreme Court is whether there is a constitutional right to discriminate, in violation of longstanding laws that apply to businesses that are open to the public, like Masterpiece Cakeshop. A decision is expected in June.

About "Open to All" Week

"Open to All Week" brings together businesses, civil rights and racial justice leaders, LGBT advocates, labor leaders, and allied organizations across the country united in the belief that businesses open to the public must serve everyone on the same terms. This year's inaugural "Open to All Week" is held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1968 landmark civil rights decision in Newman v. Piggie Park ( where the court unanimously ruled that business owners using their religious beliefs to justify discrimination against African Americans violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act ), and comes at an urgent moment when the Supreme Court is now preparing to hand down its decision in a similar case ( Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission ), involving a Colorado business that refused service to a same-sex couple. A loss in Masterpiece would threaten the precedent set by the Piggie Park decision 50 years ago and could take us back to a shameful era in our nation's history when businesses could claim a right to discriminate as they saw fit. A loss in Masterpiece would trigger consequences impacting millions of Americans, including LGBT people, people of color, women, religious minorities, people with disabilities, and others. For more information about "Open To All Week" and the importance of civil rights protections in public accommodations, please visit www.OpenToAll.com .


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