By Alex Gonzalez, Public News Service
It has been less than a week since the United States Supreme Court ruled businesses which provide expressive goods can pick and choose who they want to work with.
The court’s conservative majority ruled in favor of Colorado Christian web designer Lorie Smith who refuses to create websites for same-sex weddings due to her religious beliefs and said she is protected by the First Amendment’s free speech protections.
Jake Hylton, president and executive director of LOOKOUT publications in Phoenix called the latest move from the Supreme Court a “slippery slope.”
“It feels very much like this can and will be the start of something that enables more discrimination and more prejudice against anyone associated with the LGBTQ+ community,” Hylton pointed out.
Hylton noted he does not believe it to be a progressive versus conservative issue, but thinks the decision is rooted in what he calls “religious inspired bigotry versus individuality.” He added almost anything can be considered a “creative service,” and is concerned about where the line will be drawn regarding when someone can arbitrarily discriminate.
Public accommodation nondiscrimination laws protect LGBTQ+ people from being unfairly denied service and entry, or from being discriminated against in public spaces based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
According to Movement Advancement Project, there are 22 states in the nation with explicit laws along those lines. Arizona is not one of them. But states like Arizona without state protections may still provide local-level nondiscrimination provisions. Hylton fears what the ruling could mean for Arizona’s LGBTQ+ community.
“A state like Arizona, where this is a very diverse array of people who live here, between more urban and more rural, I think it lends itself to a lot of interpretation that I’m afraid will lead to a lot of harm,” Hylton stressed.
Hylton recommended people find ways to stay informed while also building a sense of community and belonging, as he argued the ruling is likely to cause confusion and fear.
This article originally appeared in Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.