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June 12, 2018 > County committed to LGBTQ community

County committed to LGBTQ community

Submitted By Larry Little

The Supreme Court?s 7-2 ruling in favor of a Colorado baker in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is a narrow, fact-specific decision that leaves intact State and local laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, even in the face of strongly held religious beliefs. As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, ?it is a general rule that [religious] objections do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services.?

Although we are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not take the opportunity to further enshrine LGBTQ rights, the Justices did not rule on whether the baker had a religious-freedom right to refuse service to a gay couple. Moreover, the ruling stressed the importance of maintaining equal rights for gays and lesbians, upholding the longstanding principle that States and localities may require businesses that serve the public to serve everyone.

?Equal treatment under the law is a bedrock principle of democracy. This case was not simply about cake: while the Court did not hold that businesses are allowed to pick and choose who they serve based on customers? sexual orientation, it missed an opportunity to stand up against discrimination. The use of so-called religious exemptions is part of the strategy anti-LGBTQ bullies use to erode hard-fought LGBTQ civil rights protections where they exist, and we hope the Court will take a strong stance on this in the near future.? said County of Santa Clara Deputy County Executive David Campos.

?Local governments provide a variety of essential programs and services to all our diverse communities,? said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, M.D., J.D. ?The LGBTQ community is a vital part of Santa Clara County and deserves to be treated equally. Santa Clara County is proud to uphold values of diversity, inclusion and justice. Our departments and employees are actively working to address and eliminate discrimination, and we will do everything in our power to safeguard the rights of the LGBTQ community locally.?

The County of Santa Clara is committed to supporting the LGBTQ community. We understand that the key to building a strong community and economy depends on fairness and respect for all individuals. In the weeks to come, the County of Santa Clara Office of LGBTQ Affairs will partner with the Rainbow Chamber and support the ?Take the Cake Stand? program. We will collect information about LGBTQ-supportive businesses, so that everyone in the community will know in which local businesses they can receive a quality service without fear of persecution or discrimination. If you know of an LGBTQ-supportive business that we should include in our list, contact us. This list will be prominently advertised on the Rainbow Chamber website (www.rainbowchamber.org).

In 2017, the County of Santa Clara, California, led a coalition of 70 cities and counties and 80 mayors across the nation in filing an amicus curiae (?friend of the court?) brief with the United States Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop, urging the Court to uphold important non-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (?LGBTQ?) people. The County of Santa Clara remains the only county in the U.S. with an Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

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