In the span of one year, after already reversing abortion rights and affirmative action, the Supreme Court has ruled that it is constitutional to refuse service to homosexual couples if it goes against one’s belief system.
This conservative turn is not only a devastating reversal of decades of progress for LGBTQ rights but a tragic reminder of how broken American democracy really is. With six conservative Supreme Court Justices and three liberals, it makes it nearly impossible for any leftist rulings to triumph.
A day before the ruling on LGBTQ rights, officially called 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the court expressly banned affirmative action under the justification that no one should be discriminated against. Yet, it is now permissible to discriminate against homosexuality if it goes against one’s beliefs. The contradictions are clear.
Despite a Colorado state law banning the discrimination of gay people, web designer Lorie Smith argued that she had a first amendment right to refuse to design wedding websites for same-sex couples. This is a classic case of the queerness vs. Christianity debate, which raises a larger question about whether the two even conflict.
Not only is this case a massive setback for LGBTQ rights, but risks undermining all struggles for equality. Many argue that the case of artistic expression uniquely justifies discrimination. However, the ruling does not make clear who may be discriminated against and which businesses are allowed to do so.
“There was nothing in the opinion that limits it to objections to same-sex marriage,” says Columbia law professor Katherine Frank. “The worry is that this provides a green light to any business owner that they can refuse service to any person on the basis of their identity, whether they’re gay or lesbian, or Jewish or Black, or anything, because they have an objection to those sorts of people being in their business.”
Additionally, the ruling may have broader implications over the precedence of religion against sexuality. To what extent do religious beliefs justify the restriction of gender & sexuality? The court has willfully chosen to ignore the balance between freedom to and freedom from. While citizens do have the freedom to practice their religion, homosexual couples have freedom from that religion as well. When populations are denied services, they are directly impacted by said religion. In other words, a right to express one’s religion does not justify using those beliefs to violate the rights of others, which is why we have the 14th Amendment to restrict private actors from segregating.
God loves everybody. Even if we disagree with one’s sexual orientation, we are still obligated to love others because they are a product of God himself; if the world needs more love, he wouldn’t make people born a certain way only to force them not to express that love. He wouldn’t tell people to hate sinners, to refuse compassion.
It is in difficult times like these that unity within the queer community is fundamental. Activists have vowed to work as hard as humanly possible to keep the court ruling limited to this specific case. It is of utmost importance that we stay together, stay strong, and remain hopeful – an unfortunate way to end Pride Month, but we will make it to the other side of the rainbow.