Fifty clergy in South Florida are among more than 1,000 religious leaders who have signed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that anti-LGBTQ religious exemptions should not be allowed under the U.S. Constitution.
On Dec. 5, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It will consider if the state's public accommodations law barring discrimination against customers based on their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation goes against a baker's First Amendment rights.
Bakery owner Jack Phillips says that Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins' marriage goes against his deeply held Christian beliefs. The petitioner sees baking a cake as a form of artistic expression and defends his right to refuse to make a wedding cake for the couple. The decision on the case will determine whether a law barring discrimination violates Phillips' First Amendment right to self-expression.
In addition to the documentation submitted by the parties in the case, the U.S. Supreme Court has received 95 amicus curiae briefs (from the Latin "friend of the court"). These are documents introduced by someone who is not a party of the case, but has information relevant and that bears an opinion to the case at hand. In this case, from First Amendment scholars to cake artists to the American Bar Association.
“That's just something that I don't think it's humane, I don't think it's decent, it's not civil. It's certainly not Christian. But beyond that, I don't think it is constitutional,” said the Rev. Ty Bradley, of Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale and one of the local co-signers in an amicus brief introduced by more than 1,000 religious leaders from all faiths before the court, about Phillips' arguments.
Bradley believes this is what happens when religious values become intrinsically linked with American values.
“There’s no separation between those. What are American values? How far do public accommodations go? Is there a point where the line is crossed?,” he wondered.
Rabbi Rafael Goldstein, from Davie, also explores this aspect of what is seen as an American “value.”
“[This] is the opposite of what American values are. We have religious freedom, we're allowed to obey our understanding of what God wants from us and for us, and that takes many forms. The one form it doesn't and shouldn't take and cannot take is the form of imposing my religious beliefs on other people,” he said.
Bradley wants to push back against those who might believe that America is worthy of our loyalty and our patriotism if it looks like our individual religions.
Goldstein finds it ludicrous that someone’s union to another person of the same-sex could impede somebody’s baking.
Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE (Safeguarding American Values for Everyone), agrees with the rabbi, that “a cake is a cake,” and the issue of this case is beyond just baked goods.
“You should be able to go to anyone that's offering a public service and be able to get that service without feeling humiliated--like somehow you don't belong or you're not wanted. We can't go back to the days when businesses displayed signs in their windows that say 'your kind, not served here,' ” said Lima.
Rabbi Goldstein also fears what could happen if this sort of discrimination goes unchecked. “Today it's gay people, next week it'll be them saying 'Jews don't accept what I like and therefore I'm not gonna serve them.' Or Muslims. Or any other group of people...the purpose of religion is to make us better people, not to impose our betterness on others,” he said.
At the end of the day, Rev. Bradley wants there to be a more thorough exploration of the religious values people observe. “Human beings are more important in God's economy than principles.”
The Supreme Court decision is likely sometime before the end of the court's term in late June.