PERSPECTIVE—(Editor’s Note: The US Supremes handed down a long anticipated decision on whether a cake shop in Colorado could refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The justices split 7-2. The decision left many people … it would appear even some of the justices … a bit befuddled. Clarity was in order. So, we call on our friend and attorney Jason Lyon for help. What the hell does this court Masterpiee Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision really mean. Here is his response.)
So, let’s just be clear about what the Supreme Court’s opinion did not say. It did not say that businesses have the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. It did not say that the First Amendment trumps the Fourteenth or that churchiness trumps gayness. It did not even say that baking cakes is an act of speech or an expression of faith.
What it did say is that the tension between these core Constitutional values is complicated as hell (I’m paraphrasing) and in enforcing their non-discrimination law, the state of Colorado didn’t give due regard to that.
In considering the baker’s appeal, the state basically said “that’s dumb.” What the Court said today — ALL the Court said today — is that the Constitution requires more.
At a minimum, the government has to weigh that argument without contempt. From the perspective of protecting all the rights enshrined in the Constitution, it’s a fairly non-controversial premise, which is why it was a 7-2 decision.
It’s also why it’s not likely to be a very influential precedent.
Read the decision in its entirety here.
(Jason Lyon is an attorney, a civic activist and lives in Los Angeles.)