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The Best Response to SCOTUS Decisions? Vote.

The Best Response to SCOTUS Decisions? Vote.

<p>The Best Response to SCOTUS Decisions? Vote. </p>

"The answer to 303 Creative is to get the 240+ million eligible voters in this country to the ballot box."

Four days before the Fourth of July, I saw my life—and our freedoms—flash before my eyes.

The Supreme Court had just ruled on affirmative action, putting limits on the path to freedom I myself took: A high-quality education. The justices had also ruled against students and families, especially Black and brown families like my own, who relied on loans to cover the cost of college and need relief on repayment. Then, they ruled on 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, legalizing discrimination against me and my wife, our friends and our community. And I thought, this is about me; it’s about us.

The extremists who are behind each of these cases were also behind the Dobbs decision on abortion and the Bruen decision on gun safety, the draconian state laws that have been passed and efforts to suppress voters. They are coordinated, their attacks political and personal. In dismantling the systems our nation has to resist and remedy the effects of racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, these extremists aren’t just hurting Americans like me, they are dismantling our entire democracy.

To fight back, Americans must put the “we” back in “we the people” — and exercise our collective power. The answer to 303 Creative is to get the 240+ million eligible voters in this country to the ballot box.

In the 6-3 ruling on 303 Creative, which was neither a total victory for the extremists nor a complete loss for the LGBTQ+ community, the Justices rejected decades of precedent to justify discrimination. After hearing a purely hypothetical case involving a Colorado website designer, the Justices said businesses that sell original custom goods and services have the power to discriminate.

As a nation, before now, we had decided: In the United States of America, if a business is open on Main Street, it must be open to everyone. This decision sets us back and sets extremists up to push similar, anti-LGBTQ+ litigation through our court system, compounding the current state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans. For instance, just last weekend, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s decision that had paused Tennessee’s ban on gender-affirming care, harming countless young people in that state.

The American people see 303 Creative for what it is: a manufactured case, motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ animus, to manipulate the First Amendment in order to amass political power. Eighty percent of Americans support nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBTQ+ people. Nearly two-thirds of Americans think businesses shouldn’t be able to refuse service to LGBTQ+ people and think anti-LGBTQ+ legislation — and, I assume, court decisions—are dangerous political theater.

Additionally, at least 62 million American voters prioritize LGBTQ+ rights when deciding who to vote for—and we have seen what happens when they do. Take Michigan, for instance. In 2022, voters elected a pro-equality majority in both the State House and the State Senate, and re-elected Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Within their first 100 days, Michigan became the 22nd state to make LGBTQ+ non-discrimination protections law.

At the federal level, more than 81 million voters sent President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to the White House, both outspoken in their support for equality. On their first day in office, the President signed an executive order to address discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in housing, healthcare, employment, and education. And he has promised to sign the Equality Act, legislation that would guarantee non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people, as soon as Congress sends it to his desk.

So often I hear from people I meet: We have marriage equality, the rest doesn’t matter. Or worse: It’s all so hopeless, my vote doesn’t matter. I am here to tell you that it does. There are still 28 states without non-discrimination protections on the books. In 2024, we have the opportunity to right that wrong in states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, among others. We have the opportunity to secure pro-equality majorities at all levels of the government, state and federal, by electing lawmakers who will fight for us, who will appoint judges who believe in equality for all, and who will make the Equality Act the Equality Law.

This is about you; it’s about us. When the Supreme Court makes decisions like they just did, your life, like mine, may flash before your eyes. But at the ballot box, we get the control back. We can win our freedoms back and expand them, too. Extremists can try to dismantle democracy all they want, but as long as Americans actually do democracy, progress remains possible.

Kelley Robinson is president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization in the U.S.

Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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Kelley Robinson