A Return to "We Don't Serve Your Kind Here"?
Far-Reaching Dangers of Masterpiece Cakeshop Case Highlighted by Open to All Campaign
(New York-November 29, 2017) In the context of a nation rocked by racial discrimination at levels unseen in decades, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on December 5th in a case that could gut not only state nondiscrimination laws but also erode the Civil Rights Act-and turn back the clock to a time when businesses could tell people, "we don't serve your kind here."
In response, a broad coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), civil rights, racial justice and allied organizations have launched Open to All, a national campaign to focus attention on the far-reaching, dangerous risks of the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case.
In 2012, a gay couple was denied service when they attempted to purchase a cake for their wedding reception. The bakery argues that businesses with a "creative" element should be allowed to refuse service to some people in violation of laws against discrimination. Yet despite the high stakes of the case, it has received relatively little media attention.
"If the Supreme Court gives businesses a constitutional right to discriminate, it would have implications that reach far beyond bakeries," said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project (MAP). "If the Court carves out a broad exemption in nondiscrimination laws for so-called ‘creative' enterprises, we could see an explosion of discrimination by restaurants, hair salons, event venues, funeral parlors and more. And the impact of such a decision wouldn't be limited to LGBT people; it could be used to allow discrimination against people of color, women, minority faiths, people with disabilities, and others."
The Open to All campaign is supported by more than 75 organizations, including MAP, the ACLU, Color of Change, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Anti-Defamation League, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and Freedom for All Americans. A full list of supporting organizations can be found here.
The campaign was launched with a new website—OpenToAll.com—and two new ads developed by MAP:
- "We Don't Serve Your Kind Here" illustrates how Masterpiece could lead to a wider array of people—including LGBT people and families of color—facing discrimination, while helping other viewers imagine how they would feel if they faced similar discrimination. The ad was produced in partnership with 24 national advocacy groups including civil rights, progressive, LGBT, health, and faith organizations.
- "License to Discriminate" depicts ways in which a decision in favor of the bakery in this case could be used by those who seek to discriminate against LGBT people and others.
The ads can be viewed at www.OpentoAll.com
In addition to the ads, the site includes two new MAP resources on the damaging implications of the Masterpiece case, Understanding Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Issue Brief: The Broader Danger of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case.
The site also features a social media graphics sharing section where users can spread the word and build conversations about the campaign through one-click sharing to Facebook, Twitter and other platforms—as well as a comprehensive list of amicus briefs filed in support of the couple who was discriminated against in this case. Among them, briefs filed by: leading racial justice legal and advocacy organizations, 211 members of Congress, 15 faith and civil rights organizations, 37 leading businesses and organizations, and many others.
Recent research shows that small business owners support protecting LGBT people from discrimination. A new poll released in November 2017 by the Small Business Majority shows that 65% of small business owners believe businesses should not be permitted to deny goods or services to LGBT people based on an owner's religious beliefs, and 55% of small business owners don't believe that a business owner should be able to claim an exemption to nondiscrimination laws if they believe serving a customer goes against their right to free artistic expression.
Open to All is nationwide public engagement campaign to build understanding about the ways in which our nation's nondiscrimination laws are under attack—and to defend the bedrock principle that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be Open to All. For more information and resources, visit www.OpenToAll.com. You can also find the campaign on social media at @OpentoAllofUS on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Founded in 2006, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) is an independent think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and analysis that help speed equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. www.lgbtmap.org