Mayors from All Corners of the Country File Landmark Supreme Court Brief Defending LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Posted on October 29, 2017

More than 150+ mayors and jurisdictions have joined to file a friend-of-the-court brief to the United States Supreme Court supporting the principle of nondiscrimination in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case concerns a Denver baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, attempting to create a constitutional right to discriminate based on religious grounds.

The brief is signed by 80 individual mayors, as well as 70 cities and counties. The brief is also signed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the non-partisan organization of the 1,400+ cities in the country with populations of 30,000 or more. The brief is led by the County of Santa Clara, the City of New York, and the City of Los Angeles. One hundred and two individual jurisdictions are showcased in the brief, representing more than 50 million constituents across the country. 

READ THE BRIEF HERE.

The mayors and municipal leaders represented in the brief know how vital this case is. This brief makes a forceful argument for what’s at stake with this case – for LGBTQ people and everybody else. The brief reads:

“Local non-discrimination protections embody our commitment to pluralism and tolerance in the public sphere, helping to ensure that members of our communities are able to live and work together despite differences in how they look, what they believe, or whom they love. The cohesiveness and inclusiveness of our communities depend on our ability to insist that everyone – whatever their beliefs and values and however they conduct their private affairs – treat one another equally and with respect in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other areas of public life.”

The cities brief argues that local laws are necessary to both address significant harms against LGBTQ residents, and to benefit LGBTQ residents and their communities. Furthermore, recognizing an “exemption” from nondiscrimination laws based on speech or religion grounds would cause harm against LGBTQ people and the cities they live in.

Here are reflections from just a few of the mayors who signed the brief:

“Everyone deserves equal treatment under the law. The religious freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution should never be used as a cover for bigotry — and we cannot allow anyone to undermine protections that shield Americans from discrimination.”

– Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, CA

“In 2009 our voters decisively extended our non-discrimination ordinance to include our LGBT community, a proud moment for our City and an important step towards fully protecting all people from discrimination. Diversity is a source of strength and is what makes Kalamazoo and other cities the unique and dynamic places they are. It should never be the basis for denying services, employment, or housing. All people should be treated fairly and we will continue to support efforts that aim to realize this goal for every person.”

– Bobby J. Hopewell, Mayor of Kalamazoo

“Alexandria, Virginia, is a city of kindness and compassion. We are an accepting and embracing community where we treat each other with human dignity and respect. There is no place for intolerance in our city, and it goes against our core values and is not valid to claim that the Constitution endorses discrimination against LGBT individuals.”

– Allison Silberberg, Mayor of Alexandria, VA

“I want to be a strong voice for the people of Jackson – and ensuring equal treatment of all people in the Town of Jackson and better enabling us to meet the basic needs of the community is a top priority. Members of Jackson’s LGBTQ community experience significant harms when they are denied equal treatment, and that should be unacceptable to all members of this wonderful community.”

– Pete Muldoon, Mayor of Jackson, WY

“I know first-hand both the struggles Allentown faces and the potential Allentown possesses. But in order to reach this potential, we must respect the diversity of religious beliefs in our community and ensure religion is never used to justify discrimination. Maintaining this inclusiveness requires that public accommodations be open to everyone, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents.”

– Ed Pawlowski, Mayor of Allentown, PA

“Allowing others to to live their lives does not alter anyone’s personal religious belief. It’s so important that all people are able to live their lives authentically and fully, without fear of being turned away from a business just because of who they are. Non-discrimination laws help to keep people safe and equal, and I hope the Supreme Court does not fall for anti-LGBTQ opponents’ efforts to water down these vital protections.”

– Jess Herbst, Mayor of New Hope, TX

“In Kansas City, everyone is welcome, including the LGBTQ community. As Mayor, I’ve worked hard to share this message and I’m proud of our city’s Civil Rights Ordinance which protects all our citizens from discrimination. Our laws seek to ensure no one is turned away in housing, employment or public accommodations based on who they are, what faith they follow, or who they love. Granting a business the right to refuse service sanctions discrimination, weakens our communities and leaves our citizens vulnerable. It should be opposed at all costs.”

– Sylvester ‘Sly’ James, Jr., Mayor of Kansas City, MO

“Salt Lake City is the Crossroads of the West, and in order to continue growing and thriving, we must ensure all people in our City are treated fairly and equally under the law, have an equal opportunity to earn a living and access services, and can participate fully in society and public life. As the first openly gay mayor to lead this great city, I feel a personal responsibility to ensure we are building a city for everyone, and not creating a ‘license to discriminate’ anywhere in this country.”

– Jacqueline Biskupski, Mayor of Salt Lake City, UT /h4>

“No one should be turned away from a business because of who they love. As Mayor, I stand strongly against any attempt to divide and weaken our communities. I’m proud to join fellow mayors in opposition to the exemptions discussed in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. These exemptions would create a license to discriminate that undermines the promise of respect and equal treatment for all people.”

– Jorge Elorza, Mayor of Providence, RI /h4>

“In Ypsilanti we believe in being proactive in ensuring opportunities for residents of every background–even across lines that can divide us. That’s why we’re one of nearly forty cities in Michigan that protect our residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. I hope other cities will join us, and certainly that no one will take our local protections away.”

– Amanda Edmonds, Mayor of Ypsilanti, MI

“Our town has been called the most diverse square mile in America, and for good reason. We’re home to all kinds of people, from all over the world. We know how to treat our neighbors, and part of that means that when a business opens its doors to the public, it’s open to everyone, case closed. That’s why I’m proud to join my fellow mayors from across the country in signing an amicus brief in this critical case for the principle of equal treatment. We’re not just standing up for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer neighbors, we’re standing up for everyone in Clarkston who agrees that discrimination of any kind is just plain wrong.”

– Edward Terry, Mayor of Clarkston, GA

“Rochester is the city of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas. Our city has been continually recognized as a leader on fighting LGBTQ discrimination in New York State. I’m proud that Rochester protects LGBTQ people from discrimination – and it would be wrong and unfair if the Supreme Court took away our city’s ability to fight discrimination. LGBTQ people need more protections at the federal level – not less.”

– Lovely Warren, Mayor of Rochester, NY

“Austin is inclusive, diverse, and welcoming, and that has helped us attract top talent. Part of what keeps us welcoming is our LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance – and we don’t want to see the ordinance’s protections weakened or undermined in any way. I’m proud to have joined mayors and city leaders from across the country in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. In Austin we support every star and stripe on the flag and every color of the rainbow.”

– Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, TX

“Boulder is a wonderful community that works hard to be open and friendly to people from all walks of life. Our local non-discrimination protections ensure that the members of our community are able to live and work together despite differences in how they look, what they believe, or whom they love. Our residents are overwhelmingly committed to treating others equally and with respect – and our local protections solidify that cohesiveness and inclusion with the power of law.”

– Suzanne Jones, Mayor of Boulder, CO

“Lansing, Michigan is a welcoming city with a diverse tapestry of multicultural populations that enriches us as a community, and as a nation. We strive to be inclusive of all people, including every race, religious affiliation, immigration status, nationality, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, size or ability. That’s why we are proud to stand with other cities in opposition to legalized discrimination against LGBTQ citizens and other members of our community.”

– Virgil Bernero, Mayor of Lansing, MI