WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus Chair Rep. David N. Cicilline (RI-01) and Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) filed an amicus brief to defend nondiscrimination laws in the upcoming Supreme Court case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis. The brief was joined by 123 Representatives—including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and all of the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs and Vice Chairs—and 14 Senators. Although this case is a challenge to a Colorado nondiscrimination law, it potentially could be used to weaken public accommodations nondiscrimination laws more generally by providing a constitutional right to discriminate in certain instances against LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized groups. Last spring, Representative Cicilline and Senator Merkley teamed up to further equal rights for all by introducing the Equality Act in both Chambers of Congress.
“Discrimination has no place in our society, yet this case is a reminder that despite the progress we have made there are still businesses out there that want to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized communities,” said Equality Caucus Chair Cicilline (RI-01). “The First Amendment is a key part of our Constitution, but it most certainly does not create a constitutional right for businesses open to the public to discrimination against LGBTQ+ and other people. For more than half a century, Congress has made clear that businesses that are open to the public should not be able to discriminate—as exemplified by the Civil Rights Act of 1964—and many states, including Colorado, have done the same. The Court must reject the dangerous arguments of the petitioners in this case and instead uphold the dignity and rights of LGBTQ+ and other marginalized people who only seek to receive the same rights, protections, and services as any other people.”
“If your door is open for business in America, then it must be open to all. Full stop. No one deserves to have that door slammed on them simply because of who they are or whom they love,” said Senator Merkley (OR). “Denying products or services on the basis of personal views, opinions, or religion has no place in our country, and I promise I will never stop fighting for a more just and equal America.”
303 Creative LLC v. Elenis was filed by a Colorado-based graphic designer who wants to make wedding websites in the future but does not want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples. Colorado law currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public accommodations. The Colorado law does not dictate what services a business provides but rather requires that a service offered to the general public be offered to all prospective customers without discriminating based on protected characteristics such as race, religion, or sexual orientation. The graphic designer is arguing that this law violates her First Amendment rights and that she should be able to discriminate. A broad ruling for the graphic designer could not only provide a constitutional basis for discriminating against same-sex couples, but also for discriminating against all marginalized people currently protected by public accommodations nondiscrimination laws.
Founded in 2008, the mission of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus is to promote equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Caucus, which is led by the nine openly LGBTQ+ members of the House of Representatives, is strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. and around the world.