In 2012, a gay couple was denied service when they attempted to purchase a cake for their wedding reception. The couple filed a lawsuit against the establishment and next week the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Dec. 5 in a case that could eradicate not only state nondiscrimination laws but also erode the Civil Rights Act — and turn back the clock to when businesses could tell people, “we don’t serve your kind here.”
Yet despite the high stakes of the case, it has received relatively little media attention, according to the Movement Advancement Project.
In response, a broad coalition of LGBT, civil rights, racial justice and allied organizations have launched Open to All, a national campaign to focus attention on the far-reaching, dangerous risks of the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case.
“If the Supreme Court gives businesses a constitutional right to discriminate, it would have implications that reach far beyond bakeries,” Ineke Mushovic, executive director of MAP, said in a press release. “If the Court carves out a broad exemption in nondiscrimination laws for so-called ‘creative’ enterprises, we could see an explosion of discrimination by restaurants, hair salons, event venues, funeral parlors and more. And the impact of such a decision wouldn’t be limited to LGBT people; it could be used to allow discrimination against people of color, women, minority faiths, people with disabilities, and others.”
The Open to All campaign is supported by more than 75 organizations, including the ACLU, Color of Change, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Anti-Defamation League, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and Freedom for All Americans.
The campaign was launched with a new website—OpenToAll.com. The site includes two new MAP resources on the damaging implications of the Masterpiece case, Understanding Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Issue Brief: The Broader Danger of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case.
The site also features a social media graphics sharing section where users can spread the word and build conversations about the campaign through one-click sharing to Facebook, Twitter and other platforms — as well as a comprehensive list of amicus briefs filed in support of the couple who was discriminated against in this case. Among them, briefs filed by: leading racial justice legal and advocacy organizations, 211 members of Congress, 15 faith and civil rights organizations, 37 leading businesses and organizations, and many others.
Recent research shows that small business owners support protecting LGBT people from discrimination. A new poll released earlier this month by the Small Business Majority shows that 65 percent of small business owners believe businesses should not be permitted to deny goods or services to LGBT people based on an owner’s religious beliefs, and 55 percent don’t believe that a business owner should be able to claim an exemption to nondiscrimination laws if they believe serving a customer goes against their right to free artistic expression.
Open to All is nationwide public engagement campaign to build understanding and discussion about the importance of our nation’s nondiscrimination laws — and the bedrock principle that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be Open to All. The campaign is also on social media at @OpentoAllofUS on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.