Supreme Court punts again on religious ‘freedom’ to discriminate against gay couples

Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Wash. LGBTQ Nation

The Supreme Court tossed a decision on whether or not Christians have a right to discriminate against LGBT people back to the states again in the case of Arlene’s Flowers v. Washington. The court vacated and remanded a State Supreme Court decision that an antigay florist had violated the state’s nondiscrimination laws by refusing to serve a gay couple.

“The Supreme Court today asked the Washington courts to re-examine our clients’ case in light of the recent decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop,” said James Esseks, director of ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project.

Related: This church sign is making waves in that antigay baker’s backyard

“To be clear, the court made no indication the lower courts ruled incorrectly and made no decision on the case’s merits. We are confident that the Washington State Supreme Court will rule once again in favor of the same-sex couple, and reaffirm its decision that no business has a right to discriminate.

The court has previously delayed a decision on the case, pending a decision in a similar case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In that case, baker Jack Phillips refused to make a cake for a gay couple, citing his “religious freedom” to discriminate. In a narrow ruling, the court sent that case back to the state for reexamination as well.

In both cases, the court wanted to ensure that the lower courts properly examined whether or not it would violate the “religious freedom” rights of the vendors without bias.

 

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