The Supreme Court of the United States in Masterpiece v. Colorado ruled 7-2 in favor of the Colorado Baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. However, the Court made a narrow decision leaving room open for a larger question: whether businesses can discriminate against gay individuals based on the rights protected in the First Amendment.
In the 1980s, a young female lawyer and her lawyer husband attended a party hosted by a club only allowing male lawyers. The room was filled with young men celebrating their legal careers. One of the guests at this party handed the woman a name tag. Instead of writing her name, she wrote “discrimantee” and proudly placed it on her chest. “Well, it is true,” she said after getting several questions about it. (I should write “discrimantee” on all my name tags because nothing much has really changed)
Sharon Rowen’s Balancing the Scales, addresses discrimination using women’s narratives to guide the audience. Due to Ohio’s CLE requirements, Ms. Rowen had to pause the film and explain why she directed it this way. Rowen said the film is divided into 3 parts: 1) the oral history of female role models, 2) what keeps women from achieving higher positions, 3) women not making choices from a level playing field.
David Wovrosh, Cincinnati Law 2L, summarizes Berthaiume v. Smith for the National Association for Public Defense. The case, decided by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, involves LGBT litigants and jury member bias. David writes:
In Berthiaume v. Smith, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that jury members may be questioned during voir dire regarding latent bias predicated on sexual orientation. Relying on its decision in United States v. Bates and the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Rosales-Lopez v. United States, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that, where matters of sexual orientation are “inextricably bound up” with the facts of the case, LGBT litigants are entitled to constitutional protections against jury bias.
After eight years of historic progress and support from the Obama Administration in almost all aspects of the law, from removing barriers to marriage equality and military service, to protecting LGBTQ persons at work and in school, we confront a new President, chosen after one of the most bitter and divisive elections in modern history. Does President Trump’s ascension to the White House mean this progress will be reversed or stalled – even if America’s hearts and minds already are evolving in favor of LGBTQ equality? Hard to say, given the mixed messages first from Candidate and now President Trump. What’s clear is that much work remains ahead.