A grieving widow has just lost her spouse. She, her parents and her in-laws enter a funeral home to arrange for burial services. But they are turned away when the staff realize that the woman and her late spouse are lesbians.
This story, inspired by a real legal case, is the center of Funeral Home, a new ad produced by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) as part of the Open to All campaign. Funeral Home is the latest in a series of ads that illustrate how a loss in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court would open the door to wide-ranging forms of discrimination. A decision in the case, which involves a Colorado bakery that discriminated against, and refused to serve a gay couple in violation of Colorado’s nondiscrimination law, is expected by June.
“Just because a business serves someone doesn’t mean they share all of their customers’ beliefs. But the Supreme Court will soon decide a case that could create a right to discriminate in our nation’s constitution,” the new ad says. “Do we really want to give businesses a right to tell people ‘we don’t serve your kind here’? To hurt them and reject them in front of their loved ones?
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people continue to be at risk for discrimination in their daily lives, even at their most painful moments, like when burying a loved one. People think discrimination like this couldn’t happen, but it does and it did – and this ad explains how a decision by the Supreme Court in favor of discrimination could make matters worse,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of MAP. “If the Masterpiece case gives businesses across the U.S. a license to discriminate, funeral homes, doctor’s offices, restaurants and more could legally turn away customers simply because of who they are.”
The ad was inspired by a 2016 Mississippi case where a funeral home refused service to Jack Zawadski, after learning his deceased spouse, Bob Huskey was a man. Lambda Legal is representing Jack Zawadski’s family in court in Mississippi.
Discrimination against LGBT people continues to be a pervasive issue. A 2016 Center for American Progress survey found that one in four LGBT respondents experienced discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
A ruling for the bakery in the Masterpiece case could sanction and encourage this type of discrimination not just against LGBT people, but also interfaith couples, people of color, women, people with disabilities, and others. In December 2017, a broad coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), civil rights, racial justice and allied organizations launched Open to All, a national campaign to build support for nondiscrimination laws and focus attention on the far-reaching, dangerous risks of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.