Monday, June 26, 2017

Supreme Court Will Decide Colorado/Same-Sex Wedding Cake Case, Strikes Down Arkansas Birth Certificate Law

The Supreme Court decided today, on the second anniversary of the Obergefell ruling which made marriage equality the law of the land, that it will review and rule whether a Colorado baker must sell a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage.

Via The Advocate:

The Supreme Court granted certiorari in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which a baker named Jack Phillips told a same-sex couple — David Mullins and Charlie Craig, pictured above — that he could sell them brownies but not a cake for their wedding. Phillips contends he’s an artist and that the First Amendment protects his business from having to bake a cake for a wedding that he opposes.

LGBT rights supporters say his refusal amounts to discrimination against same-sex couples, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission agreed, which is what sent the case all the way to the Supreme Court. A ruling could have far-reaching effects on the myriad of ways LGBT opponents are trying to undermine marriage equality by claiming religious exemptions. Bakers, florists, photographers and more have claimed their religious beliefs give them the right to deny service.

I think it's important to note that Colorado's anti-discrimination law specifically states that businesses open to the public may not deny service to customers based on their race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.

It's the same as if the baker refused to make a cake for an African-American couple or a Jewish couple. It's illegal.

The high court will hear the case in October.

In related marriage equality news, SCOTUS also ruled that an Arkansas law intended to stop birth certificates from listing the names of both parents in a same-sex couple was unconstitutional and summarily struck down.

Also from The Advocate:

“The Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision, we conclude, denied married same-sex couples access to the “constellation of benefits that the State has linked to marriage,” the justices wrote.

“As already explained, when a married woman in Arkansas conceives a child by means of artificial insemination, the State will — indeed, must — list the name of her male spouse on the child’s birth certificate.

And yet state law, as interpreted by the court below, allows Arkansas officials in those very same circumstances to omit a married woman’s female spouse from her child’s birth certificate.

As a result, same-sex parents in Arkansas lack the same right as opposite-sex parents to be listed on a child’s birth certificate, a document often used for important transactions like making medical decisions for a child or enrolling a child in school.”

It's telling that newly installed Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the dissent joined by Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.

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