Presiding bishop sends pastoral message in support of LGBTQ+ community

By ENS Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2023

[Episcopal News Service] The U.S. Supreme Court in a 6-3 vote ruled that an evangelical Christian web designer from Colorado has a First Amendment right to refuse services to same-sex clients despite a state law that forbids discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.

The ruling, which was released June 30, could provide a loophole through anti-discrimination laws and allow businesses to discriminate against not just LGBTQ+ people, but also people of color and religious minorities.

The court’s decision comes as anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment continues to rise in the United States. Bills targeting LGBTQ+ rights introduced by state legislatures have more than doubled since 2022.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in a statement that the Supreme Court ruling “will only add pain and difficulty.”

“This may feel like a moment of difficulty and darkness, and it is. And yet the work goes on. Our commitment to you as a church is unswerving.

“I believe deep in my soul that God is always seeking to create a world and a society where all are loved, where justice is done, and where the God-given equality of us all is honored in our relationships, in our social arrangements, and in law.

“This is a difficult time. I am mindful of another difficult time, in the 19th century, in the midst of the struggle—once again for human dignity and equality—in the midst of the struggle to bring chattel slavery in America to an end; in the midst of a century where this nation entered into a civil war; in the midst of a time when the Mexican American war was tearing much of the country apart.”

Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch said, “The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place, where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands.”

In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote: “Today, the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class.”

Lower courts in states with laws that protect LGBTQ+ people have mostly sided with same-sex couples who were refused services by businesses, but the Supreme Court ruling could now allow similar business owners in those states to evade punishment.