Religion shouldn’t excuse discriminatory attitudes

Tony Villalobos

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

“No Gays Allowed” is trending on Twitter following a Supreme Court decision last week. While this case might not directly affect many laws and discrimination policies, it does have negative consequences on how people will follow it up. 

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Following a few months of controversy and confusion, SCOTUS agreed to view the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case that started in Littleton,Colorado. The shop refused service to a same-sex couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, in 2012.

The shop’s owner, Jack Phillips, declined the service citing his Christian beliefs as the reason why he would not make them a wedding cake, but they were allowed to buy other baked goods from the store.

At the time, Colorado did not recognize same-sex marriages.

After a round of appeals and complaints the couple filed through the Colorado Civil Rights Commission the decision eventually reached the Supreme Court, and the bakeshops decision was narrowly defended 7-2.

Yes, I said narrowly. While the tally says something different, the court’s opinions were segmented and calculated. The decision was made particularly due to the specific facts of this case.

Regardless on the intentions of neutrality of religious affiliations, the courts allowing a form of action that leads to some kind of discrimination against LGBT individuals has the potential to open a plethora of potential issues.

The SCOTUS handled this case with care and seemingly with very specific rulings that would appear to try and prevent further segmentation on the issue. But the case still emboldens others to refuse service to LGBTQ customers, it compromises equality in the name of religious liberty and it continues perpetuating an idea of LGBTQ as a microculture that is easy for others to dismiss.

“No Gays Allowed” started trending on Twitter. The sign was placed up by a Tennessee based Amyx Hardware store nearly three years ago after the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, but attention was brought back last week.
 
“The reason I put up the sign is to let the homosexual people know that there are Christian people that are willing to take a stand,” owner Jeff Amyx told a local news organization.

The fact that “No Gays Allowed” is trending in itself is problematic. While the issues are not the same and should not be treated as such, the mirroring of “No Gays Allowed” with dozens of different identities and races is concerning.

Religious freedom is not an excuse to discriminate against other people.

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The freedom of practice in this situation is as big of an issue as everyone is making it seem. As a citizen and freelance photographer, I do like the idea of being able to refuse to work for individuals that would prefer I cease to exist, and there are situations I feel like refusing services to others is perfectly valid, but do not blame a religion for your own prejudices. 

The real problem is more than allowing businesses to refuse services to individuals of protected classes. Now the court has provided them with a legitimate justification for being homophobic.

The real problem is more than allowing businesses to refuse services to individuals of protected classes. Now the court has provided them with a legitimate justification for being homophobic.

It wasn’t about the cake, it wasn’t about the sign. And it isn’t about the Bible. 

It’s about being a decent person. We need to be able to recognize that when we start sacrificing individual rights in the name of religion, we are opening the door for continued intolerance under the pretense of “religious liberty”.

A line must be drawn when one person’s beliefs can actively harm another person.

Tony Villalobos May can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @TheTonyVM