President Trump and Attorney General Sessions Want to Enshrine a Business Right to Discriminate Into the Constitution

Can businesses put up a sign that says, “We Don’t Sell To Gays?” President Trump says yes.

Today Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Supreme Court in an amicus brief that businesses have a constitutional right to discriminate against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That means that business owners could put a sign in the window saying, “We Don’t Serve Gays,” even if a state or Congress says anti-gay discrimination is unlawful.

While the Justice Department says this wouldn't necessarily allow businesses to turn people away because of their race, if the Constitution protects such a right to discriminate against gay people, it would also authorize businesses to discriminate based on national origin, sex, religion, disability, gender identity, or any other basis. That means businesses could put up other signs as well: “We Don’t Sell to Women.” “No Muslims.” “No Transgender People.” All in open defiance of the nation’s civil rights laws.

How did we get here?

The case before the Supreme Court has deceptively simple facts. Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig were planning their wedding reception in Colorado. Along with Charlie’s mom, Dave and Charlie went to the Masterpiece Cakeshop bakery near Denver to order a cake in July 2012. The bakery turned them away, saying it doesn’t make wedding cakes for gay couples because that would violate its religious beliefs and artistic freedom.

Everyone in this country should be opposed to such a radical ruling that would undermine America’s core commitment to equality.

Under long-standing Colorado law, businesses that are open to the public can’t turn customers away because they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. That’s just what happened here, so Charlie and Dave sued. The Colorado courts agreed that it was discrimination and ruled that free speech and religious protections don’t give anyone a right to discriminate.

It’s easy to dismiss the case as trivial. Dave and Charlie could — and did — get a cake from another bakery. And few people would really want a cake from a bakery that doesn’t actually want to bake it.

But consider what a ruling for the bakery could mean here — constitutional protection for discrimination based on freedom of religion or expression. That’s breathtaking in its scope and consequences. It would mean that a florist could refuse to sell flowers for the funeral of an interfaith couple, a dance studio could turn away the children of an interracial couple, an architect could put up a sign saying, “No Jews,” a doctor could turn away transgender people altogether. And each and every law that makes discrimination illegal would be overridden by the constitutional right to discriminate.

In fact, the consequences go far beyond nondiscrimination laws.

If any business has a constitutional right to express its views or its religion by refusing to comply with a nondiscrimination law, it could defy other government rules as well. Businesses could refuse to follow food safety rules because they want to express themselves through their refusal. Or a company could flout consumer protection regulations because they are inconsistent with its religious beliefs.

This case has never been about the cake. It’s about whether anyone in America can be turned away from a business because of who they are. It’s about whether the Constitution gives businesses the right to discriminate whenever they want to.

Everyone in this country should be opposed to such a radical ruling that would undermine America’s core commitment to equality. That President Trump has endorsed a right to discriminate against LGBT people may not be surprising, given his earlier actions to strip transgender youth of protections in schools and to deprive lesbian, gay, and bisexual people of federal civil rights protections altogether. But it couldn’t be more un-American or shameful.

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Si

Really, they would go out of business? How the hell do you explain Jim Crow then? smh

Anonymous

AMEN and AMEN!! I'm SO sick of people getting so freaking BUTT-HURT over everything! I mean...REALLY?!? GET OVER YOURSELF!!! We have HISTORY for a REASON...we learn about what has happened IN THE PAST...things that did NOT work, which is the exact reason there was CHANGE! Then, there ARE things that worked...(that's WHY we know that the earth is round) so we held onto those things. PLEASE...by ALL means...LET the DUMB A**H*LE$ put signs in their windows and refuse to serve the public...they WON'T stay in business for very long! And...Trump...WATCH OUT, they COULD refuse to allow STUPID and UGLY people...OR, stupid ugly people that think it makes them LESS bald to comb ALL of their hair over to one side! If that would be the case...buddy, you would just be SOL!! LOL!! I really hope that you DO get to read some of these comments, but I doubt you will EVER see anything I say...I'm NOT a TWIT, that does NOTHING but TWEET on the TWITTER!! I wish you NOTHING but GOOD LUCK on completing your term as POTUS. Heck, maybe YOU should go blow some of YOUR money, that you didn't pay taxes on, in your casino like my ex did...maybe you'll have better luck than he! You DEFINITELY got lucky because the REAL VOTERS spoke...NOT the ones you PAID OFF...the AMERICAN PEOPLE, did NOT vote for YOU as POTUS, SIR....and I would NEVER WANT TO WIN THE WAY YOU DID, because you KNOW if we went by OUR votes...HILLARY would be where she BELONGS!! PRAY EVERY NIGHT THAT BUSINESSES DONT START TURNING AWAY AMERICANS BASED ON THEIR BIASES!

Anonymous

This is ridiculous. It should and is illegal to discriminate against gay people. In the case of that Baker who is discriminating, he could close his bakery because no one wanted to sell supplies to him

Anonymous

Its illegal in States that have passed laws saying that its illegal. There is no Federal law saying its illegal to not bake a gay wedding cake. If the Supreme Court rules with the LGBT or if Congress passes or amends a law then it will be illegal all over the USA. If the Supreme Court rules with the cake maker then all those State Laws have to be amended.

Anonymous

But you can bet when that business owners wife or husband drops on the floor with a heart attack they won't care about the EMT's orientation when they are saving their loved ones life.

Anonymous

I would. If it's a Fukin fag biker then let me die.

Under_Appreciated

And let's turn that one further; what happens when it is an EMT, nurse, or Doctor who refuses to provide life-saving services to a gay or transgender individual?

K M

I think this should be an option. Gay marriage is not the same as being black.

As much as a wedding is a celebration for any couple, decorating a cake, designing flowers, taking photographs and hosting a wedding event is high pressure.

You know your clients want your best. They want a designers touch. A master's hand. A photographer's eye.

Here is the problem Creative integrity is always stymied when you have deep moral convictions about what is clearly a moral issue.

An artist; whether cake, flowers, venue, pictures, is going to struggle and they run the risk of a customer complaint that could call their quality into question and dissapoint a customer.

If you are not creative you won't understand this and if you are, you are disingenuous if you agree.

Imagine a request that you design a celebratory event to celebrate Trump's victory.

You would probably either decline it or do a lousy job.

I know, I had to do this for Obama's first inaugural.

I actually ordered two cakes baked. I made one decorated with the American flag and made it red velvet to portray America's bleeding from his liberal policy.

The other I had his logo put on but I ordered marble cake to signify that he was bi racial and I was hopeful he would bring us all together.

I would have rather not participated in this event but it was my job so I did it.....but it was joyless.

I don't think a Pizza shop or a tire store should be allowed to opt out of gay sales and I don't think bakers should either.

But I do think creative services should be able to avoid servicing celebrating what they feel is wrong.

If there could be a sign that says, "we only support traditional marriage" a gay person could simply move on. The Free market forces can dictate the true cost to the business. If enough people are turned off the business will suffer.

We should be allowed to opt out of creative services that celebrate highly controversial moral questions.

Gays would do more good by being conciliatory to these people. They are not changing minds by forcing.

Anonymous

"Gays would do more good by being conciliatory to these people." You're putting the onus on the victim to appease someone discriminating against them? Please consider that dynamic. I don't see appeasement changing a bigots behavior.

"The Free market forces can dictate the true cost to the business. If enough people are turned off the business will suffer." There is a reason why racial segregation was ended legally rather than waiting for the invisible hand of economics to end it. What you are proposing is that people vote with their dollar on the issue. What if the people being marginalized are a minority of the population? What if there is a significant wealth gap between the demographics? What if there are no other vendors in the area that provide the service? This paradigm is ripe for exploitation of the less fortunate.

Anonymous

Perhaps its the religious people who want to deny services that should be conciliatory recognising that their religion's rules and beliefs are only relevant to how they live their lives, not how others live theirs.

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