Small Business Against LGBTQ Discrimination Coalition Grows to 750 as Anniversary of Historic Ruling ApproachesBy Shane Stahl • March 16, 2018 • 12:20 pm
This week, Freedom for All Americans’ Small Businesses Against LGBTQ Discrimination coalition, which launched in December 2017 with support from 500 businesses, crossed a milestone by reaching more than 750 small business owners in states across the country, united in support of LGBTQ non-discrimination. The milestone comes as we near closer and closer to a decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, now at the U.S. Supreme Court.
This Sunday, March 18, marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises is a case that originated in South Carolina dating back to 1968. The defendant in the case, proprietor Maurice Bessinger, the Baptist head of the National Association for the Preservation of White People, claimed that serving African Americans violated his religious freedom The U.S. Supreme Court issued a historic 8-0 decision (Justice Thurgood Marshall did not participate) disagreeing with the owner, affirming that businesses open to the public must be open to all. Today’s businesses are echoing that sentiment, signing onto a Freedom for All Americans (FFAA) pledge affirming their opposition to discrimination and their belief that businesses should be #OpenToAll.
Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans, said today:
“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. 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.”
The news of the Small Businesses Against LGBTQ Discrimination coalition exceeding 750 members comes in the midst of “Open to All” Week, coordinated by the Open to All Coalition, which aims to elevate the broad support for nondiscrimination in advance of a ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. The Masterpiece case concerns a Colorado bakery that refused to sell a cake to a same-sex couple celebrating their marriage. This action was in direct violation of Colorado’s nondiscrimination law, and both the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the state appellate court ruled in favor of the couple.
Business support for LGBTQ inclusion runs high across the country. According to a November 2017 report from the Small Business Majority, nearly two thirds of small business owners believe that proprietors should not be able to cite their religious beliefs as a reason to deny goods or services to LGBTQ people.
Last fall, FFAA supported an amicus brief from small businesses supporting the plaintiffs in the Masterpiece case. That brief featured leading small business organizations, including Main Street Alliance and the American Independent Business Alliance. Collectively, more than 61,000 small businesses from across the country are represented on the brief. Click here to read statements from members of Main Street Alliance speaking out against anti-LGBTQ discrimination this week.
More information on the #OpenToAll campaign launched today is available at www.opentoall.com.