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  • Writer's pictureBen Finzel

COMMENT: Members of The Change Agencies React to Supreme Court ruling on LGBTQ Discrimination

As LGBTQ and/or multicultural business owners and communications counselors, we have the following perspectives on this ruling, its impact on LGBTQ rights and the precedent it establishes for future discrimination:

“As a gay graphic designer who designs websites, I am appalled at this step backwards from the anti-discrimination laws we have worked so hard to attain," said John Avila, principal at Avila Creative, Inc., an LGBTQ and minority-owned design firm in Chicago, Illinois. "I can’t imagine refusing a client based on race, sex, religion or sexual orientation.”

“Today, as we mark the last day of Pride Month, the Supreme Court has turned its back on equality and ruled that businesses have a constitutional right to discriminate against LGBTQI people,” said Cindi Creager, Co-Owner of CreagerCole Communications, an LGBTQ-owned firm in New York, New York. “As the co-owner of an LGBTQI-focused communications firm I am outraged and saddened by this decision that rolls back protections and paves the way for further discriminatory rulings. In the face of this setback, our company will work even harder to amplify the voices of LGBTQI communities in the court of public opinion and show what’s at stake for LGBTQI lives.”

“Today, the Supreme Court majority affirmed its hostility to LGBTQ Americans by allowing open and unfettered discrimination by businesses operating in the public square," declared Zeke Stokes, president of ZS Strategies, an LGBTQ-owned communications firm in Nashville, Tennessee. "If you are a member of any marginalized community in this country, don’t fool yourself. They’re coming for you too.”

"Web design can be an outlet for creative expression, but when it comes to professional web design, this is not the place for personal opinion," shared Kristelle Siarza, APR and CEO of Siarza - a woman- and Asian-owned communications firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Businesses at their core are modes of creation, as such we must act responsibly and recognize the importance of laws protecting against prejudice when creating content for professional purposes. Creative expression never gives the right to degradative discrimination. It is crucial for businesses to prioritize creation without allowing discriminatory sentiment or practices to creep in.”

"With today's ruling, a majority of the Supreme Court has decided that discrimination is okay," stated Ben Finzel, president of RENEWPR, a certified LGBTQ Business Enterprise in Washington, D.C. "And let's be clear, this ruling won't just affect LGBTQ people. The Supreme Court's ruling makes it okay for anyone to claim that they don't want to serve certain people for any number of reasons, including race, gender, religion and other individual characteristics. This ruling will create a new Wild West of lawlessness on access to services that will take us back decades and erase much of the hard-won progress towards equality we have gained. As communicators who care about equality, our job will be to call these actions out for the discrimination they represent and explain how that harms all of us."

"The Roberts Court has, yet again, undermined our progress toward an equitable society for all," said Mike Utaegbulam, CEO of Black Digital in Washington, D.C. "While freedom of religion is essential, it should never be used as a defense to deny services and perpetuate harm against marginalized communities. As a proud member, I proudly stand with our LGBTQ community in the ongoing fight for equal treatment and respect within the bounds of the law."

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