Pride Month kicked off with a major setback this year: a Monday Supreme Court decision that sided with an antigay baker over the same-sex couple he refused to serve.
The 7-2 decision, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, is a narrow one, but it opened a crack in the door to how the freedom of religion could be weaponized against the LGBT community. Recognizing this, the right wing, including antigay preacher Franklin Graham, celebrated the ruling as "a huge win."
The ruling's announcement at the beginning of Pride season has sparked some debate on if and how the nationwide LGBT event should respond. Pride is a celebration, but it is also a political demonstration, which has only sharpened since the advent of the Trump administration and its attacks on LGBT rights.
Rev. Troy Perry — a founder of Christopher Street West and the country's oldest Pride parade — said Masterpiece Cakeshop is no reason to cancel the festivities. Instead, he sees it as a galvanizing tool.
"From what I have read on the Supreme Court decision, I believe today's decision does not break any new constitutional ground or permit businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people," Perry told The Advocate. "I believe our Pride celebrations this month will be larger than ever."
During these celebrations, supporters of the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other LGBT advocacy organizations may march with signs that reference the cake and the Supreme Court case. "Open to all" has been a rallying cry and hashtag for groups advocating that religion is no excuse to turn away a queer customer, as well as inclusive messaging like "Our faith does not discriminate." Signs with this text, which appeared in post-Cakeshop protests, will likely turn up in Pride parades as well.
Readers of Advocate.com also predicted that wedding cakes — like the one that Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips refused to bake — will figure prominently during Pride parades this year in both signs and symbology. "Cake floats everywhere!" said Matthew Wilson. "Put a papier-mâché cake on every float," proposed Julie Stefani, with Debbie Schenk specifying they be a "rainbow-tiered" wedding variety.
Actual cakes may also appear at Pride celebrations. "Bake a cake," said John Albanese, and others have predicted a surge in colorfully frosted pastries — particularly from LGBT- and ally-owned bakeries.
We all celebrate by buying a cake at our nearest LGBTQIA bakery or ally. Keep rainbow money within the community.
— Clinton (@Clinton7577) June 4, 2018
In the converse, some viewers have proposed boycotting bakeries, especially antigay ones like Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., or even going on hunger strikes. And others still say the best course of action is to ignore it altogether because it is "a total nothing burger," said Twitter user Mikester.
Ignore it. There was no finding relative to the central question of discrimination. The Court only vacated what it found to be a wrongful decision based on a procedural matter. We haven't gained or lost anything.
— Gene Dryer-Bivins (@androphiles) June 4, 2018
But there are incentives to reference Cakeshop. Be it confection or cardboard, the symbology can be used to encourage LGBT people and their allies to vote and register to vote, said many Advocate readers. The reasoning is that Cakeshop is a bitter reminder that while same-sex marriage may be won, marriage equality continues to be under attack from foes of queer people. Voting in officials who protect and advance LGBT rights is the best defense against this attack.
Many of these sentiments were expressed by Estevan Montemayor, president of Christopher Street West and L.A. Pride. Montemayor confirmed that the Los Angeles parade will officially incorporate a wedding cake as "a reminder that our fight for equal rights did not end with marriage equality."
"Not every LGBTQ+ citizen in the United States lives in a safe and welcoming environment like California," Montemayor said. "For them and for us, we need to continue to fight discrimination at the bakery, in the bathroom, and most importantly at the ballot box this fall. To honor the continued fight, we’ll be cutting a wedding cake at the start of the parade. We want to have our cake and equal protection under the law too."