Our nation decided more than 50 years ago that when a business decides to open its doors to the public, that business should be open to all. That core principle is at the heart of how we treat one another, but today’s decision by the Supreme Court chips away at its foundation.
Those who want to create a constitutional right to discriminate will use today’s decision to undermine nondiscrimination protections in other states. In doing so, they will open the door to mistreatment and discrimination against a broad array of Americans.
Colorado has some of the strongest protections for LGBT citizens in the nation, and it still wasn’t enough to ensure that David Mullins and Charlie Craig would be treated equally when stopping into Masterpiece Cakeshop to purchase a cake for their upcoming wedding. In more than half the country, our state laws do not explicitly protect LGBT Americans from discrimination in stores and restaurants, in the workplace, or in housing. In fact, 60% of our states still lack those protections.
Freedom of religion is important; that’s why it’s already protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. But that freedom doesn’t give any of us the right to impose our beliefs on others, or to discriminate. Serving a customer doesn’t mean a business owner shares or endorses all of that customer’s beliefs. Nobody should be turned away from a business simply because of who they are. And unfortunately, today’s decision will be seen by some businesses as an invitation to tell LGBT customers, “We don’t serve your kind here.”
An overwhelming majority of Americans support equal treatment for LGBT people, and it’s more than time for our laws to catch up with our values. That’s why businesses, civil rights advocates, religious leaders, health organizations, labor groups, LGBT people and our friends, families and allies are joining together to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act and create one set of rules for everyone. No one should be fired from their job, denied a place to live, or turned away from a business simply because of who they are.
Today, in the face of such a monumental set-back, we will remember that there is far more that unites us as Americans than divides us. We all want to feel safe and secure in our communities and have the freedom to be who we are. The Center is a proud member of the Open to All campaign coalition, which is urging businesses to stand up for equality and make sure that everyone knows they will be welcomed by taking the Open to All pledge.
Will you join us and take the pledge today? Together, we can work to make our communities safe and accessible for all.