The ruling is being hailed by those on the right as a major victory in the right to free speech and decried by those on the left as a major setback in the fight for equality.
In a 6 to 3 decision, the High Court ruled that Colorado wedding website designer Lori Smith has the right to refuse to offer her services to same-sex couples.
Smith says gay marriage runs counter to her religious beliefs, and the conservative majority on the court found that the attempt by the State of Colorado to force her to work with gay couples violated her First Amendment right to free speech.
Following the release of the ruling on Friday, Smith said, “I’m free to create custom designs consistent with my beliefs, without the fear of Colorado punishing me.”
Speaking outside the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland on Friday, Director of Community Development Matthew Graves said he was “completely taken aback and appalled” by the High Court decision.
“It’s really disheartening. It’s a disheartening blow to the march towards social equity, towards progress. You’re openly able to discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation,” Graves said.
Graves says he believes the ruling is rolling back the right to equal protection under the law.
“It’s halting the progress that’s been made over the last 50 years. Individuals who have given so much time, effort, some even their lives to have that public access to resources as equals. You’re politicizing someone’s right to live and right to exist,” said Graves.
Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin says he rejects the conclusion of the court and says the city remains committed to ensuring equal rights and equal accommodations for all Clevelanders.
“Clearly, [the Justices] are out of touch, tone deaf. While the country is getting younger and darker, younger with people that are diverse, LGBTQIA+ and all these different groups, they’re basically betting against the future,” he said.
Griffin is among those suggesting political solutions on the local and national level to respond to the current trend in decisions by the conservative majority on the court.
“We have to make sure that our policies, procedures and things that we do continue to push for diversity, equity and inclusion,” he said.