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Supreme Court Sides With Colorado Baker In Limited Decision

You may have heard about the Supreme Court decision last week regarding LGBTQ rights, but what does it mean for Connecticut?

The Colorado Case

Shopping for a cake for their upcoming wedding and celebration, couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig went to Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. The bakery’s owner told them that he would not create a cake for their celebration because of his religious opposition to same-sex marriages, though he would sell them already-prepared baked goods.

The State of Colorado found that the baker had violated Colorado law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by his refusal to provide a service to same-sex couples based on his religious beliefs.

The baker appealed the decision all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which found in the baker’s favor, 7-2, on Monday, June 4. The main reasoning for the holding was that members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which had initially heard the couple’s complaint, had strongly disparaged the baker’s faith at the hearing and therefore did not neutrally enforce Colorado’s anti-discrimination law. The Court did not say how it would have decided this case had the Colorado Commission not expressed hostility to the baker’s religious beliefs.

Because the Supreme Court left open the question of whether businesses could legally refuse to serve same-sex couples in other circumstances, the Court may hear similar cases in the future. The baker’s case was just the first of many in the legal pipeline in which professionals, like florists or graphic artists, refused to provide services for same-sex weddings.

"2018.06.04 SCOTUS Rally, Masterpiece Cake Case, Washington, DC USA 02709" by Ted Eytan
"2018.06.04 SCOTUS Rally, Masterpiece Cake Case, Washington, DC USA 02709" by Ted Eytan



Will this impact people’s rights in Connecticut?

The Supreme Court’s decision does not affect the anti-discrimination laws or the rights of LGBTQ persons in Connecticut in any way.

Since 1991, Connecticut has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in public and private employment, housing, public accommodations, and credit. In 2011, these laws were extended to protect transgender people by adding “gender identity or expression” to Connecticut’s list of protected classes.

As quoted in the Connecticut Mirror on Tuesday, “Yesterday was a narrow ruling that was based solely on what had happened in the state agency (Colorado) in that case,” said Dan Barrett, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. “It does not affect the application of anti-discrimination laws in Connecticut.”

The New Haven Independent reported on a recent roundtable discussion with LGBTQ+ business owners and community leaders convened by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro. “We have to push forward” and “make the fight to speak out,” De Lauro said regarding workplace protections for members of Connecticut’s LGBTQ+ community.

How can I find help?

If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you may obtain information, assistance and lawyer referrals by contacting CWEALF’s Information & Referral Service online or by calling (860) 524-0601 in the Greater Hartford Area or toll-free at 1-800-479-2949. The I&R line is open Monday through Thursday from 9am to 2pm and Fridays from 9am to 1pm.

You also may call GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) at 800-455-GLAD (4523), Monday – Friday, 1:30 - 4:30 pm, or contact them by email or live chat at www.glad.org.

If you wish to file a discrimination complaint in Connecticut, you should contact the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) for information at 860-541-3400 or 800-477-5737.

CWEALF continues to defend the rights of the Connecticut LGBTQ community as a proud member of the CT Equality coalition.


By Sheree Levine, CWEALF Volunteer at 14 Jun 2018, 11:36 AM

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