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Masterpiece Cakeshop Case up today, could have sweeping consequences for LGBTQs
From press releases
2017-12-05

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From a National LGBTQ Task Force press release:

National LGBTQ Task Force: Masterpiece Cakeshop Case Could Roll LGBTQ Rights Back A Half-Century

( Washington, DC, December 5, 2017 ) — The National LGBTQ Task Force was out at full strength on the steps of the Supreme Court to rally for the court to uphold the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in the lead up to the court hearing oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case is about showing that religion should never be an acceptable reason to refuse services to anyone.

The Masterpiece Cakeshop case is one the most dangerous cases for the LGBTQ community in recent years. Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force described it in stark terms, "This case has the potential to roll us back more than a half-century to a time when LGBTQ people were in the closet, afraid to be ourselves. We refuse to return to those ugly days."

Naomi Washington-Leapheart, the director of faith work at the Task Force, started the rally off in prayer calling for, "Divine interruption to these attempts to use government to exclude and punish vulnerable communities." After which she told the crowd, "We will not stand by while our rights are eroded before our eyes! We are here to turn over these tables of discrimination! We are here fight back against bullying done in God's name. We are here to denounce any notion of piety that compels hospitals and businesses and social service agencies to turn people away. We are here, and we won't go back!"

Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan, the Task Force's director of trans and disability justice, told the crowd she and the Task Force were here, not for cake, but for those that are disabled and would be at risk of discrimination if the court ruled in favor of Masterpiece. She spoke about queer homeless youth that would be at risk of increased bigotry and abuse at the hands of those in the foster care system if the court ruled in favor of Masterpiece and for the trans community that would be put at increased danger and would face even greater levels of discrimination.

During Rodriguez-Roldan's speech, she slammed the plaintiffs and the hate group representing them — Alliance Defending Freedom — for "using God's name, in vain, as an excuse to perpetuate bigotry and to oppress their fellow human beings. They seek to deny a fundamental promise of this republic: That everyone has the right to be who they are in the world, free of injustice, and oppression."

Task Force Senior Policy Counsel Candace Bond-Theriault, who was an author of the SCOTUS amici curiae brief that a coalition of groups including the Task Force signed onto, also spoke to the crowd. Bond-Theriault expressed how, "It's important to consider the sweeping implications that a ruling for Masterpiece Cakeshop will have for LGBTQ people of color." She spoke about how she understands this personally, telling the crowd, "As a Black queer woman, I know that members of my community will most be harmed if the justices choose corporations over individuals and allow discrimination against protected classes to become constitutionally protected."

The National LGBTQ Task Force is the oldest national LGBTQ advocacy group in the country. The Task Force builds power, takes action, and creates change to achieve freedom and justice for LGBTQ people and their families. As a progressive social-justice organization, the Task Force works to achieve equality and equity for all and toward a society that values and respects the diversity of human expression and identity.

The National LGBTQ Task Force amici curiae brief was joined by: GLAAD, Basic Rights Oregon, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity, LGBT Technology Partnership, National Coalition for LGBT Health, National Equality Action Team, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, SisterSong: National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Witness to Mass Incarceration.

From The Human Rights Campaign:

Supreme Court Arguments Today in Crucial Masterpiece Cakeshop Case; Decision Could Have Sweeping Consequences for LGBTQ People

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the following statements ahead of oral arguments this morning at the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case, which will be decided by next June, will either protect the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people — or it could set a dangerous precedent giving businesses a license to discriminate.

"At its core, this case is a cynical effort to manipulate the First Amendment in order to provide a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people and our families," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "The Trump-Pence administration's decision to back discrimination in this case is another attack in their all-out war against the LGBTQ community. At every turn, they have sought to undermine the civil rights of LGBTQ people. It's crucial that the justices reject discrimination and stand on the side of fairness and equality."

"In the United States, businesses that are open to the public get to decide what to serve, but not who they serve. The First Amendment cannot and should not be distorted as a weapon of discrimination," said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. "The ramifications of allowing people to pick and choose who they will serve could have severe consequences not only for LGBTQ people, but other minorities as well. Such a decision would put into jeopardy long-standing laws against discrimination across the country."

The case involves Jack Phillips, a baker who refused to serve a gay couple in violation of Colorado's statewide non-discrimination law. Represented by the SPLC-designated hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, Phillips — who lost before the Colorado Supreme Court — was granted the Supreme Court hearing to make a claim that he should be able to discriminate against LGBTQ people on religious freedom and freedom of speech grounds. The Trump-Pence Administration has also entered this case to back the baker's claim. Masterpiece Cakeshop is one of the most significant Supreme Court cases of the year, and the outcome could have sweeping consequences for every single LGBTQ American and millions of others.

HRC organized two major amicus briefs in the case featuring the nation's leading bakers, and chefs; as well as top businesses who oppose discrimination against LGBTQ people — the central issue in the case. The first brief from "Chefs for Equality" included more than 240 bakers, chefs, restaurateurs, and other culinary industry leaders from all 50 states, plus Washington, DC. They joined together to relay a very simple message: businesses must welcome all. If a business is open on main street, it must be open to everyone, regardless of who they are or whom they love. Backed by food professionals from Orlando, FL, to Seattle, WA, and Dallas, TX, to Philadelphia, PA, the brief was also signed by some of the most prominent names in the culinary industry, including Elizabeth Falkner, Jose Andres, Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Berman of Georgetown Cupcake, Carla Hall, Padma Lakshmi, Christina Tosi, Anthony Bourdain, Tom Colicchio, Duff Goldman, Sam Kass, and many more. The brief was authored by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, an international law firm headquartered in Washington, DC.

Additionally, dozens of major corporations spoke out in another HRC-led amicus brief. These companies sent a powerful message to the Supreme Court, as well as LGBTQ people and allies across the nation. With one voice, they made clear that a business owner's personal beliefs should never be reason enough to discriminate against a customer because of who they are or whom they love. The business brief was authored by Steptoe & Johnson LLP, an international law firm headquartered in Washington, DC, and was signed by major corporations from a diverse spectrum of industries, from Apple and Intel to Levi's and Mass Mutual. The full list of signatories includes Affirm, Inc.; Airbnb, Inc.; Amalgamated Bank; Amazon.com, Inc.; American Airlines; Apple; Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc.; Choice Hotels International, Inc., International; Cisco Systems, Inc.; Citigroup Inc.; Deutsche Bank; Glassdoor, Inc.; Intel Corporation; John Hancock; Levi Strauss & Co.; Linden Research, Inc.; Lyft Inc.; Marriott International, Inc.; MassMutual; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams; MongoDB, Inc.; National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; NIO U.S.; PayPal Holdings, Inc.; Pfizer Inc; Postmates Inc; PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP; Prudential Financial, Inc.; Replacements, Ltd.; salesforce.com, inc.; SurveyMonkey; The Estee Lauder Companies Inc.; Uber Technologies, Inc.; WeddingWire, Inc.; Weebly, Inc.; Witeck Communications; and Yelp Inc.


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