Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard a case about whether a Colorado bakery can refuse to sell to same-sex couples because the baker has religious objections to their marriages and he considers his cakes to be works of art. While inside the Justices heard arguments, the steps outside the Court hosted a rally and protesters, a lively media scrum and gawking passersby — as is common these days.
So, why such a fuss about cake?
Because Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission isn’t really about cakes and weddings at all. It’s about whether the Court will go out of its way to change the law and let businesses discriminate against customers based on an owner’s religious beliefs, free speech rights or both.
These are old arguments. They’ve been tried against most equality movements in this country — especially to defend race, sex and marital status discrimination — with the courts always concluding that the answer must be “no.”
If there is a different answer now, it’s likely to give a bright green light to those wanting to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, which would be a massive step backwards for civil rights in this country. Read more