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Lawsuits that prove Pride celebration should be every month

Lawsuits that prove Pride celebration should be every month

Pride Month is held in June to commemorate the contributions of LGBT people all over the world. Pride Month may be long over, but the LGBT community still has many battles to fight.

“Gay rights!” is no longer a battle cry heard only during Pride Month. LGBTQ members often find themselves in these situations that make being queer a year-long struggle.

Nebraska woman v. every gay person in the planet

If you’re gay, no matter where you are on the planet, we have some bad news: you’ve been sued. Here are the details.

The plaintiff: Nebraskan Sylvia Ann Driskell, ambassador for plaintiffs, "God and His Son, Jesus Christ"
The complaint: “Homosexuals breaking religious and moral laws”
The verdict: Ridiculous beyond a reasonable doubt. And not just because Ambassador Driskell hand-wrote the complaint. It’s also not because she was going to represent herself in court. It’s mostly because of her claim that “...homosexuality is a sin and that the homosexuals know it is a sin to live a life of homosexuality. Why else would they have been hiding in the closet.”

We, Washington attorneys for 30+ years, do not have the slightest clue how to handle such a straight-up bonkers suit. There truly are no words.

Florist against same-sex couplings

We’ve come a long way since the days of homosexuality being treated as a crime, but the struggles are far from over. Even in some parts of Washington state, same-sex partners still fight battles with florists who prefer to live in the golden age of homophobia.

Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flower Shop in Richland, Washington, believes only in marriage between man and woman. This belief enabled her to deny long-time customer Richard Ingersoll and his partner their right to be sold flowers for their wedding.

Ms. Stutzman thought she had an airtight defense. She cited freedoms of speech and religion — i.e., it was because of her relationship with Jesus Christ — to defend her decision not to sell flowers to the couple.

But it was not an airtight defense. Laws may prohibit religiously motivated actions, including discriminatory ones. Because otherwise, it would be perfectly fine for the religious to do things like launch crusades or, on a much smaller scale, deny services to gays merely on the belief that God wills it.

If your religious belief ordains that you avoid committing adultery or stealing from your neighbor, you would do well to obey. But if you believe that a higher being bothers with matters concerning who you arrange flowers for, it is high time to sit down and have a nice little chat with the man above.

Mr. Ingersoll, his partner, and the state of Washington sued the religious florist, citing violations of Washington's Law Against Discrimination and Consumer Protection Act, and won.

The curious case of the Christian cake

For many people, having a cake is a festive way to celebrate any occasion such as weddings. For some bakers, baking a cake is an artform that they can deny to those whose beliefs don't align with theirs.

In another wedding-related case, owner of Colorado-based Masterpiece Cakeshop Jack Phillips denied to bake a cake for same-sex couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins for religious reasons. Not to worry, the Christian chef assured them. They could still purchase other baked goods from his store, just not a wedding cake because that would be a sin.

The couple filed a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for being turned away by the master chef at Masterpiece. Fortunately, Colorado is a state that includes sexual orientation as a protected class under their anti-discrimination law.

But there was just one tiny little thing. The commission was found to be actively hostile against Mr. Phillps’ religion, calling his beliefs “irrational” and “offensive.” This threw a wrench in what should have been a clear-cut anti-discriminatory case.

Cakes for Christ

Another cake-related case involves a Christian educator and speaker William Jack who wanted to order a cake with the message, “God hates Gays,” which was a tad presumptuous. In this case, an anti-gay customer was refused business by a baker for ordering a cake with a hateful inscription. Naturally, parallels were drawn between Mr. Jack’s case and the case of Craig v. Masterpiece Cakeshop.

There are key distinctions between the two suits that both involve discriminatory acts. In the former, a couple was denied cake because of their sexual orientation, while in the latter case, a customer was denied cake because he wanted it to contain an anti-gay (i.e., discriminatory) message.

To paraphrase a popular saying, the road to a cake shop is paved with good intentions. Unfortunately, the intentions are often unsavory to certain groups of people.

Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams are your allies in personal injury cases in the Evergreen State. Call our Renton law offices today.