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Anthony Bourdain and other chefs support gay couple in bakery discrimination case

Chefs, bakers, and members of Congress voiced their opposition to LGBTI discrimination this week.

The groups filed three amicus briefs (aka a ‘friend of the court’) for an upcoming US Supreme Court cast that has major ramifications for the LGBTI community.

On 5 December, the court will hear arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This case pits business owners’ First Amendment rights such as free speech and religious freedom against discrimination.

In 2012, Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Phillips and his team argue his cakes are a form of artistic expression and therefore protected under the First Amendment.

Chefs for Equality

In conjunction with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a group of bakers, chefs, restaurateurs, and other culinary industry leaders filed a brief in support of LGBTI rights.

Some of the biggest names in the food world signed the brief. This includes Christina Tosi, Anthony Bourdain, Duff Goldman, Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Berman of Georgetown Cupcake, and more.

Though the brief acknowledges food is a form of self-expression for some, it lands on the idea that food is a commercial good. Therefore, it is not protected.

‘Even when prepared by renowned chefs, food retains a clear non-expressive purpose—namely, consumption.’

The brief also states: ‘When a chef offers something to the public, he must offer it to all.’

The brief can be read in its entirety here.

37 Businesses in Support

HRC filed another amicus brief along with 37 businesses, including Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, and more.

This brief argues that speech or religious-based exemptions to discrimination laws ‘substantially weakens these laws’.

It also states if businesses refuse goods based on identity, it ‘will be unable to conduct business smoothly and predictably’.

This brief is here.

Tammy Baldwin pledges against discrimination

Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, the first openly gay Senator in US history, filed a third brief, alongside Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of New York.

‘I support religious freedom and the freedom of full equality for every American,’ Baldwin said.

She continued, qualifying the statement: ‘Our religious beliefs don’t entitle any of us to discriminate against others and I don’t believe that any American should face discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation – whether it’s at a bakery, a hotel, or a doctor’s office.’

Maloney, a Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, added: ‘We wouldn’t let a hotel owner refuse a room to a person because of their race or allow a restaurant to deny service to a couple based on their religion – and we can’t let that same kind of discrimination apply to Americans based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

‘This is about fairness and the civil rights of all Americans – religion should not be used as a sword to inflict harm on minority groups.’

Their brief can be read here.

The case will likely not be decided until sometime next year.

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