These times require unprecedented vigilance. Amidst natural disasters and young immigrants being targeted, the news from last week was hard to keep up with. But in addition to all of that, I wanted to make sure you heard about a significant incident that could have a profound impact on our community.
Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a brief to the US Supreme Court for a case that they will likely be hearing this winter, showing support for a cake shop that refused service to a gay couple trying to buy a cake for their wedding. In it, he argues that business owners like those in this case should be able to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on their personal beliefs.
The harsh reality is this: in this brief, our Department of Justice declared that people and businesses have a constitutional right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. This assertion is an affront to every value the Constitution is meant to uphold.
If the Supreme Court agrees with Sessions, the implications will be devastating. It would mean that any business open to the public, from grocery stores and restaurants to doctors’ offices, could decide to not serve LGBTQ people—and their discrimination would be legally protected.
This decision would override the non-discrimination laws currently in place in some states and cities. It could also pave the way to legalize discrimination based on other factors like national origin, sex, religion, disability, or gender identity.
While the decision is ultimately up the Supreme Court, this brief carries weight, both within the court and beyond. It clearly signals how the Department of Justice under this administration interprets the Constitution, and is an indication of who they believe is—and is not—worthy of protection.
Make no mistake: this is not about buying cake any more than the Arlene’s Flowers case is about buying flowers. This is about chipping away at the protections LGBTQ people have fought so long and so hard for.
We have come this far, and we are determined to do everything in our power to preserve the rights of all who are being targeted. Every day feels like a constantly changing battle, and we promise to keep you updated as this situation and others develop.
I have no doubt that together we will ensure that the values of this country shine through so that every single person is protected in the places they call home.