Members of Congress File Amicus Brief in Colorado Discrimination CaseBy Shane Stahl • November 1, 2017 • 4:47 pm
This week more than 200 members of Congress submitted an amicus brief in support of LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections to the United States Supreme Court. The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, focuses on whether a business can legally discriminate against customers based on sexual orientation by citing the owner’s religious beliefs or protected expression.
The brief was led in the House by Representative Sean Patrick Maloney and in the Senate by Senator Tammy Baldwin, as well as members of the LGBT Equality Caucus and many other Congressional signers. Overall, 211 members of Congress have added their signatures.
Rep. John Lewis, Georgia, is among the list of signers in the brief. He announced this week that he was proud to stand with members of Congress on the brief. He said:
“As a nation based on laws, we must move forward, not backwards. I remember the signs that said ‘whites only’ and ‘colored only’ I remember when businesses open to the public engaged in blatant discrimination against people based on religion, race, and gender.”
Congressional signers join dozens of other groups who have already submitted friend-of-the-court briefs, including nearly 1,300 clergy and faith leaders, thousands of small business owners, and major corporations including Apple, Uber, and Amazon. 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.
Already, 18 states and over 200 cities have passed comprehensive non-discrimination legislation, ensuring protections for LGBTQ Americans in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
In 2012, same-sex couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins were denied a wedding cake by Masterpiece Cakeshop because of their sexual orientation. The shop’s owner, Jack Phillips, cited religious objections as a justification for his refusal. A Colorado court ruled that the shop could not deny services to individuals based on their sexual orientation, and required the shop to provide staff training and issue reports on steps taken to come into compliance with the ruling. Masterpiece Cakeshop has since appealed the decision with help from the anti-LGBTQ organization Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on December 5.