A case like Masterpiece vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is just one in a nationwide debate about the intersection of equality and freedom of speech and religion. As such, many organizations and …
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A case like Masterpiece vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is just one in a nationwide debate about the intersection of equality and freedom of speech and religion.
As such, many organizations and religious leaders were keeping a close eye on the Supreme Court’s decision.
Following the 7-2 victory in favor of Masterpiece, Colorado Community Media spoke to organizations on both sides of the debate, as well as local religious leaders, to get their thoughts on the decision and what the future holds:
“This will have a seismic impact on how the state treats religion. There is no place for the government to evaluate a person’s religious beliefs. Period.
“Jack is one of the kindest men I’ve ever met, and I hate to see all the things written about him that make him out to be some kind of hateful person. He just wanted to bring his faith into his work place, and not keep it in the four walls of his home and church.
“We need to create a place where people can have productive dialogues about deeply held views.”
— Jeff Hunt, Colorado Christian University’s vice president for Public Policy
“This is an enormous milestone victory for religious freedom and the First Amendment. Religious freedom is our first freedom, and freedom of conscience is the foundation of all freedoms. We are grateful that the court upheld these.
“As a nation, it is important that we continue to understand and cherish our Constitution and its amendments, that we teach the next generation of their importance, and that as a society we learn to respectfully live together with our deepest differences.”
— Donald Sweeting, Colorado Christian University president
“The most important thing is the ruling said government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society. People like Jack who believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman should be respected and tolerated because it’s that kind of tolerance and respect that makes our society good and makes it possible for us to live together.
“Really big victory for free exercise, and for people of all faiths. For the Supreme Court to reaffirm the government cannot target and punish people for their religious beliefs is a victory that helps not just Jack but all faiths.”
— Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel and vice president for U.S. Advocacy and Administration with the Alliance Defending Freedom
“There is an intentional campaign out there of people opposed to LGBTQ rights and equality to use the claims of free speech and religious freedom to undermine equality. Sure, they’ll say it’s a broad victory and may try to use it to advance other cases, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot in here other than very particular results to help in campaign.
“The overall dispute is not about cakes or anything like that — it’s about access to health care, education, and employment. Can people be fired from their job because their boss has a religious objection to who they are? That’s what Mr. Phillips’ advocates are in it for, and that’s what they didn’t get from Supreme Court.”
— James Esseks, direct of the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project
“I hoped the court was ready to settle the question of religious freedom, but this I understand this is a really hard case to settle. They left intact our anti-discrimination protections, which is very important.
“It’s not the victory and reassurance to many in our community that we hoped for, but it’s not a total defeat, either. But issues like these are going to keep coming up until the court makes a decision one way or another.”
— Rex Fuller, vice president of communications and corporate giving with The GLBT Community Center of Colorado
“Let’s be clear, the Supreme Court decision does not give businesses the constitutional right to discriminate, and it does not change existing state anti-discrimination protections. The Court reiterated the importance of the rights and dignity of LGBT individuals to be free from discrimination. And it recognized that religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws for businesses must be limited and confined.”
— Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League CEO and national director
“The decision does not change Colorado’s values and our state anti-discrimination law: all public accommodations, including businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop, cannot refuse service to anyone based on a person’s race, sex, religion or sexual orientation or gender identity.”
— Scott L. Levin, Anti-Defamation League Mountain States regional director
“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court does not change our country’s long-standing principle that businesses open to the public must be open to all.
“We strongly believe that the freedom of religion must be defended as one of our most fundamental values as Americans, but that freedom cannot be used to harm others or discriminate against others. Coloradans across our state — including LGBTQ Coloradans and their families — can take heart from today’s decision that no matter who you are, who you love, or what you believe, you will still be protected in our state from discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.”
— Daniel Ramos, executive director of One Colorado
“This question of sexual identity/expression will continue to pit many in our society against each other unless we find a way to dialogue in civil ways.
“There are strongly held differences between the extremes in this topic area and we have to find a way to talk about these differences in a civil respectful way.
“ We will never be able to find common ground until we can ask forgiveness when we wound each other or find the courage to seek tolerance and acceptance of one another.”
— Reg Cox, former pastor and director of the Lakewood Faith Coalition and Lakewood Church Network
“There was so much hope for our LGBTQ friends in the past several years, but this decision sends a message that their lives and happiness are somehow not as important. I realize that legally, on the state level, things will basically remain the same, but the implications are still there.
“It also sets a dangerous precedent blurring the sacred boundaries of the separation of church and state. I find this trend disturbing, anti-Constitutional, and frankly, frightening. We are seeing racist, anti-Jewish, anti-other acts being perpetrated all around us, and I can’t help but wonder when these acts may become officially sanctioned.”
— Rabbi Cantor Kim Harris, Congregation B’nai Chaim
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