FORT MYERS, FLORIDA (Feb. 8, 2018) — A moderated debate at Florida Gulf Coast University on Monday, February 19, will explore the topics of religious liberty, free speech and public accommodation law, mirroring oral arguments recently made to the U.S. Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The debate begins at 6:30 pm in Edwards Hall. This event is free and open to the public.
The Supreme Court case centers on a Colorado cakeshop owner who refused to make a cake for the wedding ceremony of a same-sex couple, citing religious objections. The case will determine if the state’s public accommodations law can be applied to compel the cake maker to create expression that violates a sincerely-held religious belief.
Bob Levy, chairman of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, will argue on behalf of the cakeshop owner’s First Amendment right to free speech and exercise of religion as a defense to refuse service to the same-sex couple. David Millstein, a volunteer attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, will argue on behalf of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the protected civil rights of the same-sex couple.
The outcome of this case will be among the most intensely monitored Supreme Court decisions to be delivered this session. Some legal experts see the potential for a decision in favor of the cakeshop owner to have broader implications beyond cake-making, including the scope to which other businesses, medical professionals and government agencies can refuse public accommodation or service to any legally protected class of persons based on a religious objection.
The debate is sponsored by the LGBTQA Democratic Caucus of Lee County, Log Cabin Republicans of SWFL, FGCU Office of Multicultural Leadership and Development, Students for Liberty, SWFL Harmony Chamber of Commerce, Visuality, and Young Americans for Liberty.