Worcester, MA: In an upsetting rebuke of equality, the Supreme Court today ruled in favor of a web designer who sought to refuse service to gay couples seeking websites for their upcoming wedding. Justice Neil Gorsuch, who wrote the majority opinion, affirmed the web designer’s right to discriminate against LGBTQ+ couples in need of web design services. This decision marks a troubling instance where the Court failed to protect the principle of equal treatment for all individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation.
The case, constructed upon a deceitful narrative and centered around a business that does not specialize in designing wedding websites, undermines the urgency of presenting a genuine and pressing grievance before the Court. It is concerning that there was never an actual instance where a gay couple approached this business for a wedding website. This glaring lack of immediate relevance diminishes the gravity of addressing legitimate and time-sensitive concerns in front of the Court.
In his opinion, Gorsuch writes, “…tolerance, not coercion, is our Nation’s answer.” MassEquality Executive Director Tanya Neslusan is “concerned about the precedent being set that not only does a business not need to prove there is a legitimate issue being debated to challenge the law, but also that Gorsuch seems to believe that our nation should strive to tolerate one another when, ultimately, our goal as a nation should be to be to accept and embrace people and not to merely tolerate their existence.”
In her dissenting opinion, Justice Sotomayor, quoting Justice Goldberg’s concurring opinion in Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, writes, “Discrimination is not simply dollars and cents, hamburgers and movies; it is the humiliation, frustration, and embarrassment that a person must surely feel when he is told that he is unacceptable as a member of the public because of his [social identity]. It is equally the inability to explain to a child that regardless of education, civility, courtesy, and morality he will be denied the right to enjoy equal treatment.”
Neslusan firmly agrees with this sentiment: “We have non-discrimination laws in place precisely to ensure that no one is turned away from any business or organization that serves the public. It is truly dismaying that the Supreme Court believes people can be discriminated against if the service provider simply chooses not to affirm the validity of their LGBTQ+ customer’s right to service. We fear that while today’s decision is focused on the rights of gays and lesbians, it sets a dangerous precedent for discrimination by business owners against any protected class that the owner would prefer not to serve.”