The American Military Partner Association (AMPA) has joined OutServe-SLDN and American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) in a joint amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in support of the respondents claims made in the case Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
The claims made by the petitioners in the case have a direct impact on the lives of military personnel who serve this country on installations throughout the nation. Denying services to individuals on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is inconsistent with the intentions of the free speech and free exercise of religion clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in light of our nation’s non-discrimination and public accommodation laws, which play an integral role in ensuring that LGBT service members and their families enjoy equal access to goods and services made available to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.
“A business that is open to the public should be open to public — period,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “LGBT service members and their families sacrifice so much around the world for our country, and the last thing they deserve is to be denied service here at home simply because of who they are.”
OutServe-SLDN President & CEO, Matt Thorn, has said of the pending case, “Religious freedom gives us the right to live according to the dictates of our own conscience. It doesn’t give us the right to impose those beliefs on people who want to buy our cakes. We must never go back to a time where signs displayed in their windows said, ‘you are not welcome here’. Our constitution does not enshrine discrimination.”
Service members stationed in Colorado have an immediate interest in the decision in this case, as do all citizens who have a basic right to public accommodation without regard to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Unlike most citizens, members of the military have no choice in their place of residence when on active duty and are frequently not left with ample opportunity to seek and obtain alternative accommodations should they be denied a good or service based on their perceived or actual identity or orientation.
Cases such as Lawrence v. Texas, Obergefell v. Hodges, and United States v. Windsor have consistently established, and progressively expanded, the precedent that LGBT people are a protected class under the U.S. Constitution. Permitting places of public accommodation to deny service on the basis of the customers’ orientation or identity is inconsistent with these precedents and would erode settled law which prohibits such places from declining to serve potential customers owing to the religious or associative preferences of that business’ owners or employees.
Should the U.S. Supreme Court decide in favor of allowing businesses to discriminate on religious grounds, it would undermine the Court’s own tradition of recognizing the inherent rights of the LGBT community. AMPA, OutServe-SLDN, and AVER believe that service men and women, veterans, civilian personnel of the DoD, and their families have a reasonable expectation of public accommodation without discrimination.
Read the full amicus brief filed with the court yesterday here.