In the Courts

EqualityMaine’s statement on the Supreme Court decision in the Masterpiece case

More than half a century ago, our nation decided that when a business is open to the public, it must be open to all. Not just a policy, this is a fundamental principle at the heart of who we are — and how we treat one another — as Americans. The U.S. Supreme Court today reaffirmed that principle.

While the decision reversed the original ruling by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, it did so on grounds that were unique to Masterpiece Cakeshop and this case, finding that the commission had not acted impartially when originally considering the case. As such, this ruling applies only to Masterpiece Cakeshop and does NOT broadly allow similar businesses to discriminate. Rather, the court affirmed that states can protect LGBT people from discrimination in the marketplace.

Ultimately, the majority of Maine voters made it crystal clear in 2005 that we do not support discrimination, the Maine Human Rights Act remains the law of the land, and it remains illegal in Maine to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Our community will continue to use our wallets to support businesses who value fairness and inclusion, and EqualityMaine and our partners will do everything in our power — at the ballot box, in the courts, and to shape hearts and minds — to continue working toward our ultimate goal of creating a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBT people.

About the Case

The American Civil Liberties Union argued the case on behalf of Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who were refused service at a Colorado bakery because they are a same-sex couple.

In 2012, Mullins and Craig visited the Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a cake for their wedding.  After the bakery turned the would-be customers away because they were a same-sex couple, Mullins and Craig filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Like Maine law, Colorado state law prohibits all public accommodations, including businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop, from refusing service to anyone based on characteristics such as race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission found that Masterpiece Cakeshop had discriminated against Dave and Charlie in violation of Colorado’s public accommodation law, and the Colorado courts agreed.

The Supreme Court reversed the decision based on concerns that the Commission had not acted impartially when considering the bakery’s religion-based defense.   

More information on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission can be found HERE.

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