Members of the LGBTQ community and their allies — including Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — took to the steps of the state Capitol in Denver on June 4 in a show of unity hours after the U.S. …
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Members of the LGBTQ community and their allies — including Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — took to the steps of the state Capitol in Denver on June 4 in a show of unity hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple in Lakewood in 2012.
The baker, Jack Phillips, cited religious objections to baking a cake for a gay wedding. The couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, filed suit against Phillips' Masterpiece Cakeshop, alleging their civil rights had been violated because businesses must provide equal accommodations.
“Over 50 years ago, we as a country decided that if you open a business to the public, you must be open to all,” Daniel Pamos, the executive director of LGBTQ advocacy organization One Colorado, told the crowd of about 50 people. “The freedom of religion must be defended as one of our most fundamental values as Americans, but that freedom cannot be used to harm others or discriminate against others.”
The court's ruling did not give carte blanche to businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ customers, said Denise Maes, the public policy director of the Colorado chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which defended the couple.
“This is not about cake,” Maes said. “It's about the right to access basic needs, necessities and rights, and to be free from the humiliation and shame Charlie and David had to endure that day in 2012.”
Craig, standing beside his husband, said the ruling means their fight against discrimination will continue.
“We have always believed that in America you should not be turned away from a business open to the public just because of who you are,” Craig said. “Our case is not unique. Every day across the country, LGBTQ people face discrimination in every facet of life … We brought this case because nobody should have to face the shame, embarrassment and humiliation of being told 'we don't serve your kind here.'”
Hickenlooper recalled Martin Luther King Jr. saying that the universe bends toward justice.
“To all those who may feel this was a ruling against you, who might feel like strangers in your own state, who have faced bias, bigotry and hatred, hang in there,” Hickenlooper said. “Tomorrow will be better. It always is. Barriers and walls that prevent people from experiencing the full benefits of humanity are going to fall away.”
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette — who represents Colorado's 1st Congressional District, which includes Denver and Englewood, among other areas — cited her cosponsorship of legislation that would unequivocally enshrine gender and sexual identity in the protections of the Civil Rights Act.
The ruling showed that the battle for LGBTQ rights isn't over, said Brianna Titone, who is running for the state House District 27 seat, which largely covers Arvada.
“As a trans person, my rights and those of the LGBTQ community are important to protect,” Titone said after the rally. “The Supreme Court's decision, while not what I was expecting, was also not as bad as it could have been. It's still important to come out and support the community so everyone knows we won't just sit there and watch things happen around us. We'll stand up and take action.”
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