Resolution supporting LGBT-Inclusive Nondiscrimination Protections and Urging Supreme Court to Reject Discriminatory Carve-outs

Adopted at the 86th Annual Meeting in 2018

  • WHEREAS, Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is a far-reaching and dangerous case that could lead to the erosion and dismantling of nondiscrimination protections in cities across the country, opening the door not only to more forms of discrimination, but also to more kinds of people who could face discrimination; and

    WHEREAS, a win for the bakery in the Masterpiece case would not only open the door to much wider ranging forms of discrimination, it would also expand the types of people who could face such discrimination. It could create a license to discriminate not just against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and also against people of color, interracial couples, women, minority faiths, people with disabilities, and others; and

    WHEREAS, mayors have a critically important interest in the effective enforcement of state and local nondiscrimination laws, including laws prohibiting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer people within our jurisdictions. Discrimination against LGBTQ people "? whether the loss of a job, eviction from a home, or rejection by a business "? demeans them as individuals and affects our communities as a whole, fostering an environment of exclusion where not all are entitled to respect; and

    WHEREAS, local governments, which provide a variety of services directly to residents, incur significant costs when they act to ameliorate the harms of discrimination, including providing many of the essential services that people turn to in these circumstances, such as transitional housing, shelters, and social services for people experiencing homelessness; and

    WHEREAS, the unprecedented carve outs proposed by Masterpiece could apply well beyond the wedding context to other businesses that are also arguably engaged in expressive activities, such as culinary arts, interior design and architecture firms, fashion boutiques, beauty salons, and barber shops, who would prefer not to associate with racial, ethnic, or other underrepresented minorities. And even beyond artistic commercial enterprises, a free-speech exception could potentially exempt a broad range of businesses that claim free-speech objections from serving particular customer groups; and

    WHEREAS, mayors across the country have enacted nondiscrimination laws and policies precisely because their experience has confirmed that the discrimination that harms their communities and their residents takes many forms, not all of which have yet been recognized as subject to heightened scrutiny under the Constitution, such as disability and age, and that reasoned determination, shared by jurisdictions across the nation, should be respected, not undermined by free-standing exemptions; and

    WHEREAS, as a nation, we decided a long time ago that when a business opens its doors to the public, it should serve everyone on the same terms. We are all entitled to our beliefs, but that shouldn't give businesses a license to discriminate and nobody should be turned away from a business simply because of who they are or who they love,

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors opposes the dangerous religious exemptions sought by the Masterpiece Cakeshop plaintiffs, and believes that maintaining the inclusiveness of our communities requires that public accommodations be open to everyone; nondiscrimination protections keep people from being unfairly fired, evicted, or refused service simply because of who they are and help to ensure that the promise of equal treatment under the law a reality for everyone; and no exemption that allows the destruction or erosion of these critical protections should be supported.

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