Lippitt O'Keefe - Ask a Lawyer

Ask A Lawyer: Hoping Supreme Court gets it right on same sex case

I am contemplating a marriage to my long term companion. Are there still issues involving a same sex marriage now that the Supreme Court has made them legal throughout the United States?

Sadly, there is still controversy regarding the rights of same sex couples to enjoy the same protection and legal rights as everyone else.

The U.S. Supreme Court has recently agreed to hear a case involving a Colorado bakery that has refused to bake a cake for a same sex wedding. The argument is that it violates the person’s right to freedom of religion. The courts in Colorado have ruled against the bakery owners because of the violation of the laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

We have a Supreme Court with a conservative majority and we have many people who believe that religion should trump peoples’ rights.

I have heard of situations where judges have left the family law docket so that they would not have to rule on same sex divorce issues. Sadly there is a lot of prejudice in our nation.

I grew up in the era of the civil rights movement when people were denied their rights because of color or even because of religion or ethnic background. Many people could not eat in restaurants, they could not use public accommodations and were relegated to a second class citizenship because of racial and religious bias. They could not exercise their right to vote.

I remember early in my career where deeds in areas of the Detroit Metropolitan area had restrictive covenants that prohibited the sale of houses in certain areas to Jews, to African Americans and to other minorities.

The civil rights movement resulted in laws that if you were open for business you could not turn anyone away because of race, creed or ethnic background. It did not deal with issues involving sexual orientation.

Today we have religion being used as a pretext to deny same sex couples the right to freely purchase a wedding cake, to purchase flowers for a same sex wedding and maybe to take it to an extreme the right to buy a casket.

Religion is important in our society. We also should not forget that our forefathers put into our bill of rights the important fact that while there is freedom of religion there is also a separation between church and state!

Everyone should be free to practice the faith of his or her choosing. On the other hand it should not be used as a sword or a shield to prevent someone from exercising his or her right to buy a wedding cake, or to hold a wedding reception.

It should be simple that if someone has a store, whether a bakery, a flower shop, or any other type of business that is open to the public it should be open to the public – meaning everyone! We, in Michigan live in a melting pot with people of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds living in close proximity to one another. We should be free to worship where we choose but we should also be free to purchase what we want and where we want without any restrictions based upon sex, race or religion! It should be very simple. Let’s hope that the U.S. Supreme Court gets it right next year just as it did in June of 2015 when it legalized same sex marriages.

These are my thoughts on this issue that has become so controversial in many quarters.

Please share yours with us as well.