Statement from WA State LGBTQ Commission Executive Director J. Manny Santiago Regarding SCOTUS Decision on 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis
Olympia, WA, June 30, 2023 – Today, the Supreme Court of the United State struck down two centuries of free marker practices in the country. The SCOTUS decision to allow businesses with certain religious beliefs to discriminate specifically against 2SLGBTQIA+ people, goes against every business theory and best practice in a free market system. With their decision, the Court created a two-tiered system, where members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are explicitly prevented from accessing goods and services if the business owner arbitrarily decides that they do not want to do business with members of the community basely solely on the client’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This decision comes on the heels of over 400 bills filed in legislatures across the country – including here in Washington – to take away rights from 2SLGBTQIA+ people. It is also in light of hundreds of decisions in local jurisdictions to ban books with 2SLGBTQIA+ content from school and other public libraries, as well as to defund any equity and inclusion efforts in public institutions such as colleges and universities.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor described the impact of the Court’s majority decision in her dissent, saying: “Discrimination is not simply dollars and cents, hamburgers and movies; it is the humiliation, frustration, and embarrassment that a person must surely feel when he is told that he is unacceptable as a member of the public because of his social identity….This ostracism, this otherness, is among the most distressing feelings that can be felt by our social species.” We could not agree more. This is how discrimination works. The Court has sided with a small, radical segment of society that has worked tirelessly to strengthen and build systems that prevent minoritized groups from enjoying the constitutional freedoms that we were once promised.
The WA State LGBTQ Commission believes that the best business practices are those that welcome and affirm every person as clients. Washington has consistently ranked on the top five of states to do business. This is because of our strong protections for consumers, our state’s non-discrimination laws, strong protections for workers, and comprehensive support for entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes. This will not change in Washington. Although we are not yet clear on how the decision will affect local business and statewide non-discrimination laws, we are committed to supporting 2SLGBTQIA+ Washingtonians in every way possible, including helping find resources for victims of discrimination.
We also want to affirm the work of the many businesses that support 2SLGBTQIA+ Washingtonians as well as the many 2SLGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs whose businesses are committed to serving everyone. In Washington, the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) offers certification for minority owned business, and we are currently working with them to expand this certification to 2SLGBTQIA+ owned businesses. The GSBA based in Seattle, and the Inland Northwest Business Alliance in Spokane are local, 2SLGBTQIA+ chambers of commerce that offer support to businesses as well as comprehensive directories of businesses that welcome and affirm 2SLGBTQIA+ clients. We encourage our constituents to use their services and find businesses that affirm our community. Moreover, we highly encourage our community to reach out to your local minority-owned businesses that continue to be in solidarity with every 2SLGBTQIA+ Washingtonians while also investing in their local communities.
Washington will continue being a welcoming state for all, and the WA State LGBTQ Commission will continue working with and for our community.
Established by legislation in 2019, the Washington State LGBTQ Commission works to improve the state’s interface with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, and intersex community, identify the needs of its members, and ensuring that there is an effective means of advocating for LGBTQ equity in all aspects of state government. www.lgbtq.wa.gov