From our Nonprofit Partner The Cascade AIDS Project:
The recent Supreme Court ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in favor of the business owner in Colorado who refused to sell a gay couple a wedding cake has sent shockwaves through our community. While thankfully, the decision was made on very narrow grounds and does not have a broad impact on civil rights laws, the ruling does not grant outright discrimination, but it troublingly opens the way for future challenges under the auspices of “religious freedom.”
While limited in legal scope, the decision has had a tremendous psychological impact on all of us who believe that no class or category of people should be made to feel like second-class citizens or less than equal based upon who they are or who they love. Across the country, LGBTQ+ individuals, families, and allies have rightly reacted to the ruling with grave concern and fear about our hard-won civil rights and the future of the equality movement. We are right to be concerned. According to the Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ+ individuals continue to face alarming levels of discrimination all across the country with LGBTQ+ people at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services in 31 states. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court decision may empower more anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination across the country as it begins to normalize bigotry and hate.
We, as a community, cannot allow this to happen. We cannot be complacent. We need to act to ensure that our vision of a safe and inclusive country is realized for all people. In order to achieve that vision, we need to mobilize pro-equality voters and band together to ensure that pro-equality candidates—regardless of party—get elected up and down the ballot. We need to hold our elected officials accountable and encourage them to support the Equality Act—a bipartisan bill (co-sponsored by Oregon’s own Senator Jeff Merkley!) that would provide clear and consistent non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity across key areas of life, including employment, housing, federally-funded programs, public spaces and services, education, credit, and jury service.
The Supreme Court has shown us that we cannot rely on them to protect our rights. We need to do it for ourselves, for our community, and for the most vulnerable among us. We urge you to get involved and be an active participant in our democracy. Call or write your representative and urge them to support the Equality Act. Encourage your equality-loving friends, families, and lovers to get registered to vote and encourage others to do so. This is a fight we know we can win. We have done it in the past and we will do it in the future.