Sexual orientation-based discrimination

Danielle Zukowski

June 26, 2015. That day will now be in the history books as the day same sex marriage was legalized in the U.S.

This is the era of diversity. Small milestones are being made all the time. People are making history. Simply having this court decision, however, does not change everything. Everyone does not agree with the decision, and some people have taken it upon themselves to protest this decision. One of these individuals is the Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis who has been jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses since the ruling.

She is not the only one that has refused services. Jack Philips, an owner of a cake shop, denied business from a same-sex couple in Colorado. Illinois photographer, Courtney Romano, is another. Prior to the ruling, an Indiana pizza place declined catering services, and a Washington florist wouldn’t make an arrangement for a gay wedding. Many who have refused services have used the First Amendment as their support.

The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The problem with this is the idea of your freedoms infringing upon other’s freedoms. What about their pursuit of happiness? And what about separation of church and state? This is a significant subject of debate. The government allows for employees to disagree with government policies, but they can’t disobey them. What about people that do not work for the federal government like the baker and the florist? Is it discrimination to refuse their services if it goes against their religious beliefs? Would it be acceptable for them to deny services to a female or a Hispanic person or an autistic person? Absolutely not. Why is discrimination against same-sex couples still tolerated?

Is it legal to refuse services? Many cases have ruled that it is not, after the official ruling, but let’s take a look at the anti-discrimination laws. Some of the states such as Maine and Rhode Island have laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation, but many do not have these laws.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protects “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information” from discrimination, but sexual orientation is not included. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been proposed to include sexual orientation and gender identity. It has taken many provisions and has been proposed many times but has not gained enough support. In 2013 it passed in the Senate but died in the House of Representatives. With recent events in the Supreme Court, such as with Kim Davis, the passing of laws like these may be more likely. Even with the legalization of same-sex marriage, it is quite apparent that this is not the end to the subject – it is much more of a beginning. There are many things that are still unclear in government. Times have changed and revisions are needed. Sexual orientation-based discrimination is just one of the subjects that has not been fully addressed by the law – there are many others.