The United States Supreme Court has decided that business owners can deny services to LGBTQ+ customers if providing such services would contradict their religious beliefs.
The ruling was in response to a case involving Lorie Smith, a web designer from Colorado who sought to avoid creating wedding websites for same-sex couples, arguing it contradicted her convictions.
This verdict, delivered by the conservative-majority Supreme Court with a 6-3 vote, underscores Smith’s First Amendment right to refuse such tasks.
The ruling has sparked concern for its potential impact on the broader LGBTQ+ community. Justice Neil Gorsuch, in the majority opinion, insisted that the ruling affirms the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of thought and expression, even in the face of viewpoints that some may find unattractive.
Gorsuch stated Colorado cannot “force an individual to speak in ways that align with its views but defy her conscience about a matter of major significance.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her dissent, lamented that the ruling seems to mark a step backward in the fight for liberty and equality for gender and sexual minorities.
She wrote, “A sad day in the American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBTQ people.”
Furthermore, she raised concerns that the decision’s underlying rationale could potentially extend beyond issues of sexual orientation or gender identity, potentially leading to the exclusion of other groups from various services.
President Biden expressed his apprehension that the decision could lead to further discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. In response, he has urged Congress to pass the Equality Act. Legal experts fear that this ruling could establish constraints on the extent of government intervention in safeguarding against discrimination.
This ruling echoed a similar case from 2018 when a baker declined to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.