The Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a Colorado baker, Jack Philips, who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
David Mullins and husband Charlie Craig filed a civil rights complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission after Philips refused to make a cake for their wedding. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission found that Philips violated a state anti-discrimination law.
Justice Anthony Kennedy cautioned in his majority opinion that other disputes “must be resolved with tolerance without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
Courts are engaged in cases that involve LGBT people and whether businesses can assert religious objections to avoid complying with anti-discrimination measures in serving customers, hiring and firing employees and providing health care.
Other LGBT related cases have surfaced like a Michigan funeral home that fired an employee after she informed her workplace of transitioning from male to female. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the firing constituted sex discrimination under federal civil rights law. That court is one of the several that have applied anti-sex discrimination provisions to transgender people, but the Supreme Court has yet to take up a case. The funeral home argues in part that Congress was not thinking about transgender people when it included sex discrimination in the Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
In the past 13 months, federal appeals courts in Chicago and New York also have ruled that gay and lesbian employees are entitled to protection from discrimination under Title VII. Although Title VII does not specifically mention sexual orientation, the courts said it was covered under the ban on sex bias.
The trend in the lower courts has been in favor of extending civil rights protections to LGBT employees and students. Camila Taylor, the director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal said she is “very concerned about the composition of the federal bench. Under the Trump administration, we’ve seen a number of federal nominees who have been ideologues, who have taken positions about the very right to exist of LGBT people that is simply inconsistent with fitness to serve as a federal judge.”
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