Colorado Cake Shop Case Goes to Supreme Court:

Trump/Pence Regime, Christian Fascists Move to Embed Anti-LGBTQ Prejudice in Federal Law

December 4, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Not that long ago, LGBTQ persecution and prejudice was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. A Supreme Court justice stated in a ruling upholding an anti-gay law that sex between people of the same sex was “an infamous crime against nature,” worse even than rape. Blatant prejudice against LGBTQ people permeated the entire culture; it was the currency in schools, workplaces, entertainment. Anti-LGBTQ violence was common, often by the police. The president and his staff “joked” about people dying of AIDS.

Not that long ago in the United States, discrimination against Black people was open and flagrant. “Whites only” signs hung over everything from water fountains to business entrances. Black people were denied entry to many public facilities, and always had to sit in the back of buses. “No dogs, no Negroes, no Mexicans” signs were common in Texas and other Southwestern states. This discrimination was legitimized in law; it was upheld by courts all the way to the Supreme Court. It was backed up by mob and police violence, and by long entrenched “custom,” hatred, and ignorance.

And now this type of institutionalized bigotry and hate could be returning to the U.S., once again sanctioned by law. Across the country, state laws protecting gay people from violence and discrimination remain the exception, not the rule. But the small gains made by LGBTQ people towards being recognized and treated as full human beings are under severe attack by Christian fascists, aided and abetted by the Trump/Pence regime.

And on Tuesday, December 5, the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission will be heard at the Supreme Court.

A Case with Far-Reaching Implications

Five years ago, David Mullins and Charlie Craig went to a baker in a Denver suburb to order a wedding cake. They were about to go to Massachusetts to get married—Colorado in 2012 did not allow marriages between people of the same sex—and wanted a cake for a party when they returned to Colorado. Bakery owner and Christian fundamentalist Jack Phillips refused to make their cake, in defiance of a Colorado law that bars refusing service based on “race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.” Phillips said making a cake for a gay wedding would violate his “religious beliefs.” Mullins and Craig filed a successful complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, beginning a five-year legal battle.

Phillips and his lawyers claim that baking a wedding cake is a form of constitutionally protected speech. They argue that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in particular its statement that there should be no law “abridging the freedom of speech,” protects his right to refuse service to LGBTQ people. But Phillips isn’t just baking cakes in his own kitchen; he is operating a business open to the public, and doesn’t have the right to refuse services to people because of his bigotry and prejudices.

The implications of this case are far reaching, and potentially even more ominous. If the Supreme Court decides in favor of Phillips, the floodgates will open to all kinds of state-sanctioned discrimination, using religion and “free speech” as justifications. State sanctioned protections against discrimination for women, disabled people, and Black people could also come under attack.

Bigotry Promoted by Trump’s Department of Justice

Phillips’s case is being argued by the “Alliance Defending Freedom” (ADF). The ADF is described as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It supports the “re-criminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad,” among many other vicious anti-LGBTQ measures. The ADF has major financial backing from enormously wealthy capitalists, and, as Revolution wrote in September, is “an agent of the agenda of sections of the ruling class who see an absolute need to re-cohere U.S. society under draconian Christian fundamentalist norms and morality, including demonization and dehumanization of LGBTQ people. These forces now have their people in the White House.”

Recently the Trump/Pence regime’s white supremacist attorney general, Jeff Sessions, addressed a meeting of the ADF. He said to them, “The challenges our nation faces today concerning our historic First Amendment right to the ‘free exercise’ of our faith have become acute.” This is utter bullshit—it is the perpetrator presenting himself as “victim.” As James Esseks, one of the lawyers for Mullins and Craig said, the Masterpiece Cakeshop case isn’t about a cake, it is about “licensing discrimination.”

Dozens of briefs have been filed on both sides of this case. In September, the Trump/Pence regime filed a brief on behalf of Phillips stating that “Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights.” Louise Melling, deputy legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, responded, “Even in an administration that has already made its hostility [toward the gay community] clear, I find this nothing short of shocking.”

The Trump/Pence regime has moved to legitimize discrimination against transgender people. Trump has "joked" that Pence wants to hang all gay people. A Department of Justice lawyer argued that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prevent an employer from firing someone because of their sexual orientation. A Trump nominee for a federal judgeship is on record as saying, “Guess what? I attend a conservative Baptist church. We discriminate, all right. On the basis of sexual orientation, we discriminate.”

Intensified attacks on LGBTQ people are integral to the entire fascist agenda the Trump/Pence regime is moving to consolidate. Now, hateful Christian fascist bigots, together with Trump’s Department of Justice, are working to embed their anti-LGBTQ ignorance and prejudices as law, enforced by the state. If they succeed, this would encourage discrimination and violence against LGBTQ people. The same laws could also be used to justify vicious and cruel discrimination against Muslims, against people who speak Spanish, against Black people.

They must be opposed, they must be defeated, and the entire Trump/Pence regime must go.



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