Supreme Court's Cake Case Could Set America Back 50 Years, Activists Warn

The Masterpiece Cakeshop battle echoes a similar case from half a century ago, they say.

A national coalition of more than 80 pro-LGBTQ organizations is aiming to show people how a Supreme Court ruling about a Colorado bakery could threaten a historic 1968 court decision.

The groups have been drawing attention to the potential implications of the upcoming court decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission over the past few months and did so again Thursday with the release of a new ad.

In the clip, which can be viewed above, the Open to All alliance draws comparisons between the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, in which a baker cited his religious beliefs in refusing to prepare a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, and 1968′s Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises ruling.

Exactly 50 years ago this week, the Supreme Court ruled that Maurice Bessinger, who founded the Piggie Park barbecue chain in South Carolina, had discriminated against a black customer, John W. Mungin. A Baptist minister, Mungin was told to leave a Piggie Park franchise at gunpoint because Bessinger believed races should be kept segregated.

Produced in conjunction with the Movement Advancement Project and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the ad shows that “the free exercise of religion does not provide a license to discriminate,” according to its creators.

“Businesses and their owners have a right to their religious beliefs,” Movement Advancement Project Executive Director Ineke Mushovic told HuffPost in an email. “But that freedom shouldn’t give businesses a license to discriminate.”

To mark the 50th anniversary of Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises, the coalition has dubbed March 12-18 “Open to All Week.” Mushovic said she hopes the weeklong commemoration urges Supreme Court justices not to turn the clock back half a century.

Whether the effort eases concerns among LGBTQ rights advocates, however, remains to be seen. Some legal experts say the decision regarding Masterpiece Cakeshop could have the most significant effect on the queer community since the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on marriage equality.

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