In a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple due to his religious beliefs. A large amount of uncertainty remains even after this ruling.
The court refused to decide if someone can be compelled to create a work of art due to anti-discrimination laws, and it is still unclear if creating a custom wedding cake is expressive conduct that is protected speech under the First Amendment. Which art is considered “expressive” enough to be protected? These questions will not be answered until a similar case arises to the court.
However, one thing is absolutely certain: LGBTQ citizens will remain second-class citizens as long as “religious freedom” is continually used as an excuse to legally discriminate. LGBTQ citizens can still be legally fired or denied housing in 28 states, and hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in states over the past several years.
One’s constitutional right to religious freedom is just as important as one’s right to live free from discrimination, but only one is being used to hinder the other. The court stated the “government has no role in expressing or even suggesting whether the religious ground for Phillips’ conscience-based objection is legitimate or illegitimate.” But maybe it should. It is time that we pass bold reform that outlaws discrimination on the basis of religious freedom.