How Supreme Court's ruling for free speech rights over LGBTQ+ protections could impact Illinois laws

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Friday, June 30, 2023
SCOTUS ruling limiting LGBTQ+ protections could impact Illinois laws
The Supreme Court web designer case decision could impact Illinois laws. The Supreme Court justices sided with Christian web designer Lorie Smith.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A U.S. Supreme Court decision on Friday is being heralded by some as a win for free speech, even for topics that might go against what's popular.

"What the Supreme Court held was that free speech means free speech," said Thomas Moore Society Executive Vice President and Director of Litigation Peter Breen.

But, for the LGBTQ+ community, this is seen as a major setback that will open the door to discrimination.

"The Supreme Court's decision today is devastating. It is heartbreaking," said Equality Illinois CEO Brian Johnson.

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The Supreme Court waited until the final day of its term to issue this highly charged ruling. It also coincides with the final day of Pride Month.

Democratic leaders from Chicago to Springfield denounced the decision. Gay rights groups say it rolls back decades of anti-discrimination precedent.

"The question is when you establish a business and enter into the marketplace, and say you're open to all, do you have to be does your business have to be open to all? And for 50 years, the answer that question has been, 'Yes,'" Johnson said.

"Free speech is free, not because it's popular with the majority, but because it needs to be protected from that majority," Breen said.

Breen, with the conservative Thomas Moore Society, says the ruling protects religious groups from being forced to creatively support things that go against deeply held beliefs.

"So, your Muslim professional is not going to have to do something that might insult the Prophet Muhammad. A Jewish professional is not going to have to support something that is antisemitic," said Breen.

LGBTQ+ supporters hope the impact in Illinois will be minimized due to current laws like the Illinois Humans Rights Act.

"Here in Illinois, we will continue to do everything in our power to protect every marginalized community," said State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Democrat who represents the 14th District, which includes Chicago's Edgewater, Andersonville and Rogers Park neighborhoods.

The Supreme Court's ruling could also impact several Illinois laws, including one awaiting the governor's signature. It restricts pregnancy centers from sharing so-called misinformation about abortion.

Both sides in this case are now trying analyze what this ruling is going to mean in Illinois, and how widespread its impact will be. But, the fallout is expected to lead to numerous lawsuits down the road.