Local leaders and groups in Utah are responding after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake to celebrate the marriage of a same sex couple because of a religious objection.
The ruling was 7-2.
Salt Lake City Councilmember and Utah Senate Candidate Derek Kitchen was a plaintiff in the case that brought marriage equality to Utah in 2014 ( Kitchen v. Herbert). He said the decision will bring more discrimination.
“This decision from the Supreme Court today is a punch in the gut to Utah’s LGBT community and to all Utahns who care about fairness & justice. This decision allows any Bubba to invoke his religious views, and then use that as the legal basis to discriminate in a public business. This flawed ruling will surely bring about more discrimination, not less.”
Kitchen added, “This decision brings home why it is important that LGBTQ people are in the room when it happens–when decisions are made all across Utah, places like in the 105 member Utah Legislature. With the retirement of Senator Dabakis there will be NO LGBTQ lawmakers there when laws and policies are debated and made.”
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski was also disappointed in the decision:
“I am disappointed and surprised by the Supreme Court’s ruling today. The Court had the opportunity to reaffirm the long-standing principle in this country that businesses should be open to all people. With that said, I am also relieved that the Court was extremely narrow in their decision focusing on particular actions in the Colorado case and avoiding any negative precedent.
Salt Lake City proudly joined 102 cities in an Amicus brief arguing in favor of the couple in this case. I feel strongly, as I did then, that Salt Lake City will continue to participate in litigation which endangers the equal rights of any people in our community. Everyone should know, that if you do business in our City, you do business with everyone.
This issue remains unresolved and will likely result in future litigation. Today, LGBTQ people in this country must continue to wonder whether they may be refused service for who they are—and that’s simply unacceptable.”
Equality Utah, on the other hand, says the decision reaffirms the core principle of our civil rights laws-that businesses open to the public must be open to all, and cannot discriminate against same-sex couples.
“Although the Court ruled in favor of the cakeshop, the Court affirmed that ‘gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated . . . as inferior in dignity and worth,’ and that religious objections ‘do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services.'”
Their full statement reads:
The Court’s ruling in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop was based on concerns unique to the case: that the Colorado Commission on Civil Rights displayed “hostility” by calling the baker’s religious beliefs “despicable.” In ruling for the baker, the Court reminded us that “these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
In response to the Court’s ruling, Executive Director Troy Williams said: “For more than fifty years Americans have agreed that a person should not be fired, evicted or denied goods and services because of who they are. Today’s decision affirms these principles in that LGBTQ couples are to be afforded dignity and worth in society and in the law.”
“Although our country is increasingly divided, we continue to believe that Utahns are people of kindness and goodwill. This decision does not turn back the clock on equality, we will continue to advocate for the equal treatment of LGBTQ people.”
The Sutherland Institute seemed to agree. Their director for The Center for Family and Society, Bill Duncan, released the following statement:
“Today’s decision from the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission emphasizes an important principle of nondiscrimination laws: equal application of the law,” Duncan said. “Combined with past Court decisions upholding the dignity of those in the LGBT community, today’s ruling reminds us that equality applies to all Americans, not just the favored few, and we must protect those with firmly held religious beliefs, members of the LGBTQ community, and all citizens alike.
“Animus undertaken in the name of any cause – religious freedom, LGBT equality, or any other – is and remains discrimination disavowed by American values and political principles.
“With their 7-2 decision, the Court also revealed that a reasonable coalition of both conservatives and liberals can recognize that the state has an interest in preventing discrimination and in preserving the First Amendment rights of people of faith. This principle of inclusion is a good guide for national and state policymakers going forward. Reasonable actors of all stripes ought to see today’s decision as an opportunity to elevate our dialogue, rather than retreating into ideological comfort zones, and seek out legal protections inclusive of everyone – even those with whom we disagree.”
Senator Orrin Hatch is also applauding the decision.
“I applaud today’s decision. Hostility toward religion has no place in government. At the same time, religious freedom means much more than freedom from government hostility. Courts must protect the ability of believers to freely live their faith and to express their religious beliefs openly and honestly.”
This is a developing story. Updates will be posted as they become available.