Religion Cannot Be Used to Justify Discrimination in the Marketplace

Janine Jackson: We will be talking about the Supreme Court’s decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission for a long time. Denver baker Jack Phillips was determined not legally liable for refusing to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. But we’re told that doesn’t mean discrimination against LGBTQ people is now legal, because in this case, the Court’s majority said, the behavior and statements from some members of Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission indicated “hostility” to Phillip’s religion—and that situation might not obtain in other cases. Is that reassuring?

Here to talk about where law meets life on these concerns is Jennifer Pizer, law and policy director for Lambda Legal. She joins us now by phone from Los Angeles. Welcome to CounterSpin, Jennifer Pizer.

Jennifer Pizer: Happy to be with you.

The Washington Post editorial was headlined “The Supreme Court’s Narrow Ruling on a Wedding Cake Is a Step in the Right Direction.” While no one doubts that things could always be worse for people who face discrimination, what is your overall response to this ruling, and what do you make of that rather sanguine interpretation of it?

Well, in our view, the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision is a mixed bag. It has some very important language in it: recognizing married same-sex couples—and LGBT people more generally—should be treated with dignity and respect, and that equality in the marketplace has been an important value, and that it’s relevant for same-sex couples seeking wedding-related goods and services, that state public accommodation or…

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