Arizona Appeals Court Applies Masterpiece Cakeshop Ruling to Reject a License to Discriminate

In the first lower court ruling applying Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected the argument that business owners have a license to discriminate against same-sex couples in Brush & NIB Studio v City of Phoenix.

This case was brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom.wedding cake

This shows that the Supreme Court’s decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop did not change the long-standing rule that businesses that are open to to the public must be open to all.

Discrimination has no place under our Constitution. Business can’t hang up signs saying “your kind not served here.”

Posted by Eric Lesh on Medium.com – June 7, 2017

Bermuda Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage

Gay couples won the right to marry yesterday for the second time in little more than a year in Bermuda, but the Government said it would appeal the Supreme Court decision to reverse the ban on same-sex marriage.

Chief Justice Ian Kawaley upheld a constitutional challenge against the Domestic Partnership Act, delivering a judgment that declared invalid the parts of the legislation which revoked marriage equality.marital trust

His ruling was greeted with a round of applause from a packed public gallery and joyful celebrations outside the courtroom.

Several hours later, Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, announced the judgment would be appealed “subject to any legal advice that we receive”.

Mr Justice Kawaley’s ruling does not take immediate effect because he agreed to an application by Solicitor-General Melvin Douglas, representing the Attorney-General, for a six-week stay to allow the Government to decide whether to appeal.

During that period, gay couples will only be able to apply to enter into domestic partnerships.

Mr Brown said: “We are pleased that the Chief Justice has stayed the decision until an appeal can be submitted.”

by Sam Strangeways Owain Johnston-Barnes – The royal Gazette – June 7, 2018

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The Masterpiece Cake Shop Decision – A Narrowly Decided Cautionary Tale

The Masterpiece Cake Shop Decision demonstrated the Supreme Court of the United States threading the religious needle.   

In Masterpiece Cake Shop, while making it a point to explain that no determinations were actually being made on whether people with religious convictions can openly discriminate against gay people, or, more alarmingly, whether gay people deserve protections against such discrimination at all, the Supreme Court went out of their way to emphasize the importance of respect for religion.

 

gay rightsDon’t get me wrong, I have great respect for most religious belief.  My family holds hands and says what we are thankful for before every meal. We acknowledge the need for divine intervention with friends and family who are dealing with health issues.  We have ingrained just such a respect in our son to be tolerant of others, even those who would mock and deride our family just because it has two dads.

 

However, most Americans do not take the time to parse Supreme Court decisions to get to what the Justices are actually saying and, with the Masterpiece Cake Shop Decision, the message most people will hear is that religious beliefs now trump the dignity and equality of the LGBTQ community.

 

I feel the need to explain what I interpreted as the main message of The Masterpiece Cake Shop decision. In the majority decision, Justice Kennedy, the author of almost every positive gay rights decision out of the high court, gave short shrift to a complete analysis of the freedom of speech and free exercise of religion claims which strike to the heart of this decision. He did, however, along with the majority of the court, focus on the treatment that the baker received from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

 

masterpiece cake shop decisionJustice Kennedy held that, “When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered the case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.  In other words, because of the Commission’s original treatment of the baker’s claim, no matter whether the result of their analysis was correct, the process was tainted from the start and therefore the holdings of all subsequent courts agreeing that the baker violated the rights of the petitioning gay couple, who, as Justice Ginsburg stated in her dissent,  “simply requested a wedding cake: They mentioned no message or anything else distinguishing the cake they wanted to buy from any other wedding cake Phillips (the Respondent) would have sold.”  But because the process was tainted with anti-religious bias, the underlying discrimination was no longer relevant.  

 

Because the Colorado Civil Rights Commission “showed hostility” toward the baker and his beliefs, that in and of itself, “cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the Commission’s adjudication of the … claim.”  Even if the Commission was right in their determination that impermissible discrimination existed, they weren’t adequately respectful to religion.  Thus the message that religion is more important than discrimination may be misinterpreted.

 

I have been searching for a meaning behind this seemingly incorrect finding.  Many of the greatest LGBT legal minds have attempted to make the distinctions in this decision that would stave off its potential future anti-gay wake of behavior and court reaction to that behavior.  This quote is a bit long but captures the proverbial threaded needle. Mary Bonauto, the civil rights director of GLAD and who argued the Obergefell marriage case before the Supreme Court in 2015 said:

“… this limited ruling provides no basis for this Bakeshop or other entities covered by anti-discrimination laws to refuse goods and services in the name of free speech or religion.

The Court was mindful of how far adrift we could go if every individual could apply his or her religious beliefs to every commercial transaction.  The Court contrasted permission for a clergy person to refuse to marry a couple as an exercise of religious belief, on the one hand, with the unacceptable “community-wide stigma” that would befall gay people if there was a general constitutional right to refuse to provide goods and services.”

I fear that this distinction will not be made by those who are less invested in understanding how these cases actually affect the lives of LGBTQ individuals, couples and families. My concern is for the families out there who now are questioning the legal certainty of their families, or whether their families will receive equal treatment in courts of less gay friendly jurisdictions.  We are, after all, a portable nation and our families are everywhere. 

 

While this decision does not actually give license to shop owners to deny gay people services, it is important to note that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is still legal in 28 states.

 

At the risk of sounding like a lawyer, full disclosure – I am a lawyer, this case should serve as a wake up call that nothing can be taken for granted.  If you have put off doing your estate planning, do it now.  If you are a religious person, please pray that Justices Kennedy, Breyer and Ginsburg live long and healthy lives because these decisions can turn on a dime once right wing conservatives attain an indisputable majority on the court.  If you have questioned about whether you should get a second or step parent adoption, do it now. If you have legal questions about your immigration status, or that of your partner or spouse, find out about it now.

 

While my sincere hope is that more cases like this, with better fact patterns, will ultimately force the court to answer the questions that we all thought would be addressed in the Masterpiece cake Shop decision, namely whether religious “free speech” trumps anti-discrimination protection for LGBTQ people, until that time, we cannot sit idly by while others find solace and fortitude in their own anti-gay beliefs, whether religiously held or not.  

 

Anthony M. Brown, Time For Families – June 5, 2018

My Family’s Story

My husband Gary and I were able to share our family’s story with Robin and Jaimie of the hit podcast, If These Ovaries Could Talk.

 We spoke about being a known donor, having our son with a known egg donor and gestational carrier, as well as our commitment to inviting others to get to know us through honest question and answer.  Anthony Brown

This podcast is really important.  Not only are Jaimie and Robin helping others to have their families, they are demysifying the process and helping others to know that our families are just like theirs.

Go to www.ovariestalk.com for information and you can download their podcast on all podcast platforms.

Click here to listen to our episode, “They Met at the Disco.”

Supreme Court Sides With Baker Who Turned Away Gay Couple

The Supreme Court sided with a Colorado baker on Monday in a closely watched case pitting gay rights against claims of religious freedom.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the 7-2 decision, relied on narrow grounds, saying a state commission had violated the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom in ruling against the baker, Jack Phillips, who had refused to create a custom wedding cake for a gay couple.gay cake

“The neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised here,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection.”

The decision, which turned on the commission’s asserted hostility to religion, left open the possibility that other cases raising similar issues could be decided differently.

“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” Justice Kennedy wrote, “all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, No. 16-111, arose from a brief encounter in 2012, when David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Mr. Phillips’s bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, in Lakewood, Colo. The two men were going to be married in Massachusetts, and they were looking for a wedding cake for a reception in Colorado.

Mr. Phillips turned them down, saying he would not use his talents to convey a message of support for same-sex marriage at odds with his religious faith. Mr. Mullins and Mr. Craig said they were humiliated by Mr. Phillips’s refusal to serve them, and they filed a complaint with Colorado’s civil rights commission, saying that Mr. Phillips had violated a state law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

New York Times, by Adam Liptak, June 4, 2018

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Gay family recognised by state in Ecuador in historic decision

A seven-year-old girl will be registered with both surnames of her two mothers in Ecuador, in a move hailed by campaigners as step forward for the recognition of LGBT families in the country.

The Constitutional Court in Ecuador ordered the Civil Registry office to register Satya Amani Bicknell Rothon, the daughter of couple Helen Bicknell and Nicola Rothon.

The case had been ongoing since September 2012.Ecuador

At a press conference after the decision, Bicknell said: “We knew we were going to win but we did not know when.

“This is the result of a collective effort,” she added.

 

One of the lawyer’s involved in the case, Jose Luis Guerra, said failing to register the child’s name was in violation of her rights, TeleSUR English reported.

Guerra added the move was significant in recognising the diversity of families in Ecuador.

Ecuador’s Constitutional Tribunal repealed the law that criminalised same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults in 1997.

In 2015, Ecuador passed an amendment to its Civil Code which legalised same-sex civil unions.

Yolanda Herrera, an Ecuadorian lawyer with a focus on LGBT rights, told TeleSUR English that there are still issues around adoption and surrogacy despite the recognition of civil unions.

by Lydia Smith, PinkNew.co.uk, May 31, 2018

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New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act Now Law

New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act Provides Legal Protections to Help Individuals Struggling to Conceive

The New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act sponsored by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Annette Quijano and Mila Jasey to provide legal protections to those struggling to conceive a child who wish to use a gestational carrier has been signed into law.new jersey gestational carrier agreement act

The law (A-1704), titled the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act, authorizes a written contract under which a woman agrees to carry and give birth to a child created using assisted reproduction on behalf of an intended parent.

Unlike traditional surrogacy, in which a woman is artificially inseminated with the semen of the intended father and gives birth to a child through the use of her own egg, a gestational carrier does not make use of her own egg and therefore is not genetically related to the child.

The issue of surrogacy garnered national headlines in the late 1980’s with the case of “Baby M,” in which the New Jersey Supreme Court found traditional surrogacy agreements invalid because they violated various public policies and state statutes.  In 2009, a New Jersey Superior Court ruled that the findings in the Baby M case apply to gestational surrogacy as well as traditional surrogacy cases.

Because advances in reproductive technology now allow for the transfer of an embryo into the body of a woman who is not genetically related to the child, traditional surrogacy agreements like the one in Baby M, and adoption, are no longer the only means by which a couple that is having reproductive difficulties may have children.

“Ignoring the legal issues that accompany technological advancements does not remove the challenges, it merely adds an additional burden on loving couples or individuals who are already struggling to have a child,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).  “With this law, intended parents and gestational surrogates will have the legal protections that were denied to them before.”

The law takes into account the advances in reproductive technologies and permit gestational carrier agreements, which would stipulate that upon the birth of the child, the intended parent becomes the legal parent of the child and the woman – the gestational carrier – would have no parental rights or obligations.

insidernj.com, May 30, 2018

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First Czech same-sex couple recognized as parents

The Supreme Court accepted in early May the Californian judiciary’s decision and recognized a Czech gay couple as the parents of a recently born baby, which is the first case of a same-sex Czech couple to be given this legal right, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote on Saturday.

A surrogate mother gave birth to the baby of the Czech gay couple in California a few months ago.

The donor’s egg was fertilised in vitro with the sperm of one of the future fathers. The Californian authorities then recognised both Czech men as the rightful parents of the newborn baby.Czech Republic

As the child has a U.S. birth certificate and passport, the gay couple turned to defence lawyer Katerina Menclova to help them gain Czech documents.

“I was told that if we want to arrange Czech documents for Karolina (the baby girl), we must turn to the Supreme Court that would recognise the verdict by the State of California, which declared both gay partners the child’s parents,” Menclova told MfD.

The Supreme Court issued the respective decision on May 2, recognising both men as the child’s parents.

Menclova then turned to the Czech authorities that were to issue the baby’s birth certificate.

Defence lawyer Petr Kalla, who is dealing with similar cases, told Mlada fronta Dnes, that the court’s decision is of an immense symbolic importance as for the first time a Czech same-sex couple was recognised as rightful parents, Kalla said.

Prague Daily Monitor – May 19, 2018

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Gay Couple Stabbed While Holding Hands Outside Denver Nightclub

“We were just holding hands minding our business,” one of the men said.

Two gay men were holding hands while walking home from a nightclub early Sunday morning in Denver when a man attacked the couple, stabbing them multiple times. 

“We were just walking and I guess he didn’t like what he saw … that we were holding hands,” Chris Huizar, 19, told local outlet 9News on Sunday. 

Huizar and his boyfriend, Gabriel Roman, 23, were walking home from a dance club called The Church just after midnight when the two said they heard a man yell “fuckin’ faggots” before he attacked the couple with a folding knife. Huizar was stabbed in the neck and Roman was stabbed in the hand and back before they were able to escape.

The couple called the police and were taken to the hospital immediately where, according to Gay Star News, Roman received 30 internal stitches and 52 stitches on his hand. The wounds were not life-threatening, Denver police spokesman Sgt. John White told The Denver Post.

By Alanna Vagianos Huffingtonpost.com, May 29, 2018

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L.G.B.T. Students in Oregon Were Bullied and Forced to Read Bible, Report Says

In the hallways of a rural Oregon high school, gay and lesbian students were taunted with homophobic slurs. In the cafeteria, students pelted a transgender student with food.

And when gay and lesbian students got into trouble, the school’s principal assigned a specific punishment just for them: readings from the Bible.

Students detailed those allegations in recent state investigative reports into the North Bend School District, a coastal area about 100 miles north of California. In the reports, gay and lesbian high school students described years of harassment and bigotry from school employees and other students, and a deeply religious culture that silenced their complaints.

The two reports, completed in March by an investigator in the Oregon Department of Education and made public this month, found that top officials in North Bend had for at least the past two school years fostered hostile conditions for gay and lesbian students, hesitated to intervene after reports of sexual harassment and retaliated against a school counselor who had cooperated with the state investigation.

The state found “substantial evidence” of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students at North Bend High School. “The department finds that discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation may have occurred,” the investigator wrote.

In schools across the country, L.G.B.T. students are more likely to be bullied and suffer depression than their straight peers, studies have found. It is no different in Oregon, gay and lesbian activists said, despite the perception of the state, and particularly places like Portland, as a progressive paradise.

In the state reports, the district denied that students had been mistreated and said that when they had reported cases of harassment, it resolved them promptly and appropriately.

School officials initially denied that students were required to read the Bible as punishment. But they later told investigators it was true, adding that they handed down the punishment not to promote a religion but “to assist students in understanding the effects of certain behaviors.”

The state ordered North Bend in March to settle with a pair of female students whose complaints to the State Department of Education led to the investigation. But no deal was reached, so the state has scheduled a hearing on May 24 with both sides to help mediate a resolution.

North Bend’s superintendent, Bill Yester, said Wednesday that the district disputes many of the state’s findings and will present its evidence at the hearing. He said the Bible was used as punishment only once.

by Matthew Haag, New York Times, May 17, 2018

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