BY KAYLEE DUFF
Last Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple.
The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Jack Phillips, claimed selling the cake went against his religious beliefs to serve the couple. The SCOTUS released the case’s decision on early last week. Read the full decision here.
The case has been all over the news; chances are, you’ve already read a bunch of opinion pieces on what the decision does and does not mean. Most of the talk surrounding the Masterpiece case has to do with what it didn’t address: whether religious freedom protects discriminatory practices. Kim Welter, with KLW Consulting, explains: “This was a case-specific decision, and the Justices were not looking into the larger question.”
This opens up about a million questions. What does this decision mean for LGBTQ+ people in Ohio? What does it mean for our local bakeries? Does this ruling open up the door for similar injustices?
Several Columbus bakery owners have spoken out against the discriminatory practice being challenged in the court case.
Bake Me Happy — a gluten-free bakery in South Side — owners Letha and Wendy Pugh were married in March 2017. For them, inclusivity matters. “As small business owners, we have a responsibility to be inclusive when we provide service,” says Letha. “For us, at the end of the day, the goal is to have served all of our customers with respect, regardless of their personal lives. Being open to everyone is a responsible business choice as well as the right thing to you.”
Laura Hartner of Short North Piece of Cake also calls for inclusivity, as her business “stands on its belief that everyone should be treated as equals.” She is disheartened by the SCOTUS decision, and views it as a set-back against the LGBTQ+ community. “In a society of many religions and non-religions, there certainly is not only one way to live your life. We need to be open and understanding of others beliefs, yet stand strong when it comes to blatant discrimination. It is NOT OKAY to give someone the right to refuse service to a human being.”
For us, the takeaway is simply this: In a world where businesses are still able to openly discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community, treat people of color unfairly, and commit all sorts of unspeakable actions, it’s important to know who our allies are. This means supporting local businesses, especially those owned by LGBTQ+ people, people of color, women, the differently abled or other communities that are often overlooked.
Now, more than ever, it’s absolutely imperative to vote and make our voices heard. These are phrases we’ve heard repeatedly since 2016 (and honestly, way before that).
But locally, there’s a lot we need to do.
Ohio is still missing a big part of the equation — statewide legislation that protects LGBTQ-identifying individuals from discrimination. House Bill 160, a.k.a. the Ohio Fairness Act, aims to strengthen protections by adding specific language regarding the LGBTQ+ community. According to Kim Welter, this ruling “doesn’t impact Ohio’s movements towards anti-discrimination.” However, we can’t let the bill lose traction with our local community and politicians.
What can you do to help? Contact your legislators. Make a phone call to your Representative; force them to pick up the phone and hear your support for the Ohio Fairness Act. Spread the word about it on Facebook, share a Tweet. Do whatever you need to do to let people know that our state still lacks protections for the queer community.
At the end of the day, the Masterpiece Supreme Court decision is definitely a step backwards for LGBTQ+ protections across the country. As a community, we can’t lose hope. We must work together to bring about greater change — that way there never has to be another court case like this.
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