Columbia/July 1, 2023 (SPN)| The LGBTQ community faced a setback in their fight for equal LGBTQ rights with the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a 6-3 ruling, the court determined that a Christian creative web designer was protected by the First Amendment and could refuse to provide her services for creating wedding websites for same-sex couples.
The timing of this decision has been met with disappointment and frustration within the LGBTQ community. “The Supreme Court issued this decision on the final day of Pride month, a time when we are supposed to be celebrating our progress and achievements,” expressed Robert Fischer, the director of communications for PROMO Missouri, an LGBTQ advocacy group.
The case revolved around a Colorado business owner who sought to express her religious beliefs by refusing to create wedding websites for LGBTQ customers. However, she faced legal obstacles due to Colorado’s public accommodations law.
With this ruling, other creative businesses with similar beliefs could also be shielded from penalties in states that safeguard LGBTQ rights under civil rights or public accommodations laws.
While the decision has disappointed advocates for LGBTQ rights, the concern extends beyond the immediate impact. Fischer worries about the precedent this ruling sets for future cases. “Although the decision is relatively narrow, it represents a step towards potential discrimination, which is alarming for many people,” Fischer expressed.
It is important to note that this ruling does not apply to all businesses, but it does raise concerns about the misuse of religious freedom as a justification for discrimination and denial of services. Fischer urges businesses in Missouri and beyond to maintain a commitment to inclusivity, regardless of legal allowances.
“Regardless of the ruling, it is essential for businesses to understand that being open to the public means being open to everyone,” Fischer emphasized. “We encourage businesses not to exploit their personal religious beliefs as a means to discriminate.”
Missouri is among the 21 states that currently lack explicit laws protecting LGBTQ rights in public accommodations, including establishments such as restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues.
In light of this setback, Fischer calls on individuals who support LGBTQ rights to get involved at the local level. He recommends backing the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, a legislative proposal that aims to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories in public accommodations.