What today's Supreme Court ruling means for LGBTQ people today - and in the future

Today the U.S. Supreme Court  made a narrow ruling in favor of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, the owner of Colorado’s Masterpiece Cakeshop. In a  7-2 decision, the Supreme Court argued that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed hostility towards religion when it originally brought claims against Jack Phillips in 2014.

This Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling reverses an earlier decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals, which in 2015 ruled that Masterpiece’s policy of turning away same-sex couples violates Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA).

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, said in reaction, “Though freedom of religion is an American value, discrimination is not. While this decision does not change existing civil rights protections, it leaves the door wide open for religious exemptions to be used against LGBTQ people. Today’s decision emboldens the anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the Trump Administration in their persistent push to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people under the misnomer of religious freedom. LGBTQ people will continuously be vulnerable until the liberty and justice for all tenants of the Constitution apply to all Americans, including LGBTQ people.”

GLAAD compiled a tip sheet to help reporters accurately cover cases involving religious exemptions. GLAAD urged journalists to drop the terms “religious freedom” or “religious liberty” in favor of the term “religious exemptions,” because these terms attempt to veil the bigotry at the root of decisions to refuse service to same-sex couples. The tip sheet includes a call for reporters to acknowledge the potential harm to our communities beyond wedding cakes and include the voices of progressive faith leaders from diverse communities in their coverage.

Though the SCOTUS decision may feel discouraging, it is important to note that the ruling on this case was incredibly narrow, and leaves existing civil rights protections intact. However, the  decision will also likely embolden anti-LGBTQ groups and individuals pushing for religious exemptions, and assures that the rights of LGBTQ people will continue to be litigated in the courts - a truly demoralizing experience. The next case we will be watching in this regard is that of Barronelle Stutzman, a seventy-two year-old florist from Richmond, Washington, who denied flowers to a longtime customer who was seeking her arrangements for the wedding he was planning with his now-husband. The ADF has petitioned the United States Supreme Court to review the case.

The ADF, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group, has a case history working to push the radical narrative that non-discrimination protections violate the rights of those seeking to deny services to marginalized communities, especially LGBTQ people. The ADF has made it clear that their ultimate goal is to overturn all nondiscrimination laws applying to sexual orientation and gender identity. They are playing a long game of many cuts, and they currently have the full backing of the Trump White House.

You can help today by joining GLAAD in letting reporters know when they are using the incorrect terms in reporting - remind them that using religious exemptions is imperative and unbiased.

And you can share GLAAD’s message calling out the ADF and those within the Trump Administration who are intent on attacking and rolling back LGBTQ rights and protections.