Today, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s decision, ruling that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s actions violated the Free Exercise Clause and showed hostility to religion.
Justice Kennedy wrote a relatively narrow opinion joined by the conservatives but also by more liberal justices Kagan and Breyer.
“The commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” Kennedy wrote, referring to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing 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,” Kennedy wrote.
You may read the entire opinion here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-111_j4el.pdf
In a statement released to the media, the LGBT Life Center expressed disappointment with the ruling, stating,
We are extremely disappointed in today’s ruling against LGBTQ Americans. By remanding the judgement back to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Nation’s top court has skirted LGBTQ protections at a moment when LGBTQ hate-crimes are at an all-time high. No American should have to face the humiliation and ridicule of going to a business that serves the public only to be turned away for discriminatory purposes. Colorado wisely added LGBTQ Americans as a protected class in public accommodation – so that anyone who enters a business that serves the public is treated equally and fairly – but today’s court ruling says that hate and discrimination have a place in our nation, and that one can use their religion to deny services to those they disagree with.
We call on the Commonwealth of Virginia to act and pass non-discrimination protections in employment, housing and public accommodation, and we call on Congress to act as well. Anti-discrimination protections in public accommodation are not special rights, they are minimum expectations of service every entrepreneur should expect when opening a business, and they are what customers, and the public, deserve; being free of harassment and discrimination when participating in our community’s economy. Our nation, and our community, needs federal protections for LGBTQ Americans so that we cannot be denied a home, a livelihood, dignity or a cake.