Thousands of Voices Relay Support for LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in U.S. Supreme Court Case

By Adam Polaski • October 30, 2017 • 6:59 pm

Today friend-of-the-court briefs were filed in the U.S. Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a same-sex couple in Colorado denied service at a bakery, in violation of the state’s LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination law. The briefs speak with a unified message: Americans want to be sure that all people, including LGBTQ people, are treated fairly and equally when accessing public businesses.

At the heart of the Masterpiece case is the question of whether nondiscrimination laws can continue to be enforced without sweeping and dangerous exemptions.

Thousands of people spoke out – including elected officials, faith leaders of all different religions from every single state, state Attorneys General and city officials who say that cities are strengthened when no one faces legal discrimination, and businesses large and small who support the fundamental concept that businesses open to the public must be Open to All.

Freedom for All Americans supported the development of multiple briefs filed today – including a faith brief, a municipal leaders brief, and a small business brief. The faith brief features 1,300 clergy from approximately 50 faith traditions across the country, representing half a million congregants. The municipal brief features mayors from big cities and smaller municipalities across the country – many of whom were activated through FFAA’s Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination program. And the small business brief features leading small business organizations, including Main Street Alliance and the American Independent Business Alliance.

Kasey Suffredini, Acting CEO & President of Strategy for Freedom for All Americans, said today:

“In seeking an exemption from his obligation to serve everyone equally, the business owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop is asking the Supreme Court to grant him a sweeping license to discriminate. The dozens of friend-of-the-court briefs filed this week and signed by thousands of experts, scholars, and organizations showcase the diverse support for equal treatment and fairness for all. Nondiscrimination laws allow states and local governments to protect their residents from unequal treatment. These laws ensure all of us can participate in public life, and nothing should undermine that promise in America.  Our work to achieve an America where every single LGBTQ person lives free from discrimination will be enormously impacted by the outcome of this case. As hostile legal challenges wind their way through our courts and the administration seeks to undermine equality, it’s incumbent upon us to share stories that illustrate the devastating consequences of discrimination and mobilize our allies.”

These briefs are a powerful assertion that protecting all people from discrimination is an American value. They demonstrate that a broad and diverse array of people throughout the country support LGBTQ equality and equal treatment in places of public accommodation. And they communicate a vital moral imperative to the nation.

Take a look at some of the impactful briefs below, then see the full list at the end. 

Nearly 1,300 Faith Leaders in Every Single State

More than 1,300 clergy and religious leaders representing every single state signed onto a brief making the religious case for LGBTQ non-discrimination without exemption. More than 85 national religious leaders signed the brief including the leaders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Alliance of Baptists, Muslims for Progressive Values, and Reconstructionist Judaism. The presidents of ten seminaries and the leaders of 40 religious organizations also signed the brief.

“I am not a lawyer, so I do not know the fine legal arguments of the case; I know only that my faith tells me that discrimination against persons, even those with whom I disagree, is wrong,” said Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, Co-Executive Director of the National Coalition of American Nuns. “If someone, whose political, social, or religious views I did not share, came to my house, I would surely offer them a cake and a comfortable cup of tea, as Jesus would do. So why would I not sell them the same?”

FFAA contributed to outreach on the brief alongside the Religious Institute and the National LGBTQ Task Force. Read the Brief.

151 Mayors, Cities, Counties & Jurisdictions

Another major brief is one featuring the voices of 80 individual mayors, 70 cities and counties, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the non-partisan organization of the 1,400+ cities in the country with populations of 30,000 or more. Many of the mayors involved are a part of Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination, a program of Freedom for All Americans. The brief is led by the County of Santa Clara, the City of New York, and the City of Los Angeles. One hundred and two individual jurisdictions are showcased in the brief, representing more than 50 million constituents across the country.

“Equal treatment under the law is a bedrock principle of this country,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Ken Yeager. “Business owners have a legal obligation to treat each of their customers the same. When they open their doors to the public, they cannot pick and choose whom to serve.” Read the brief.

Small Business Leaders

Small business owners joined together today to send a clear message that businesses open to the public must serve all. Main Street Alliance, the American Independent Business Alliance, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce submitted the brief in the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case today, and collectively represent more than 61,000 small businesses across the country. The brief argues that nondiscrimination laws – which enjoy strong support among small business owners – are fundamentally good for business and essential to the communities in which businesses operate. Read the Brief.

Bakers, Chefs, and Restaurateurs

The Human Rights Campaign coordinated a unique and powerful brief of bakers, chefs, and restaurateurs supportive of LGBTQ non-discrimination. The argument the bakers and chefs make is that culinary artists are not granted permission by the First Amendment to refuse service to someone based on their identity. “The fact that food preparation involves talent, skill, and artistry does not necessarily entitle it to First Amendment Protection,” the brief argues, adding that there is no basis in the law allowing an exemption for wedding cakes. The brief’s signers include
celebrity chefs Jose Andres, Elizabeth Falkner, and Carla Hall.  Read the Brief Here.

Major Businesses

Thirty-seven major businesses signed onto this brief underlining the importance of non-discrimination laws for sustaining a thriving economy and powerful workplace. Companies including AirBnB, American Airlines, Apple, Deutsche Bank, Levi Strauss & Co., Lyft, SurveyMonkey, Uber Technologies, Inc., and Yelp, Inc. added their names to the brief. The brief reads, “Amici share a belief that non-discrimination laws ensure all Americans are treated with dignity and respect. Non-discrimination laws also improve profitability, productivity, and creativity in the workplace. The broad and ill-defined exemptions from non-discrimination laws proposed by Petitioners will burden amici and their employees. Petitioners’ positions will create uncertainty and impose unnecessary costs and administrative complexities on employers. Commerce will also be disrupted if businesses are required to interrogate their customers when providing goods or services to ensure businesses are not adopting or endorsing a message with which they disagree.” Read the Brief.

All Briefs Filed in Support of LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission


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