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ACLU, Colorado file briefs for gay couple in Masterpiece Cakeshop case

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right to wed, gay news, Washington Blade

right to wed, gay news, Washington Blade

Lawyers file opening briefs for the gay couple in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. (Photo by Bigstock)

Lawyers advocating for the gay couple who insist they should be able to purchase a wedding cake from a baker under Colorado law — whether the baker has religious objections or not — fired their opening salvo before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

In the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, a pair of opening briefs was submitted by Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which argues the court should uphold lower court decisions for Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Law, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the same-sex couple in the lawsuit, Charlie Craig and David Mullins.

Both briefs argue the Supreme Court should reject the claim by Jack Phillips, the Christian baker who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop and says can he refuse a wedding cake to same-sex couples because the making of the cake is inherently an act of expression protected under the First Amendment.

The 70-page brief from the ACLU makes the case Phillip cannot be free to discriminate on the basis of his religious views because the Colorado non-discrimination law is generally applicable to all businesses.

“The bakery is not the first business to claim a First Amendment right to violate an anti-discrimination law because of its sincerely held religious or moral beliefs,” the brief says. “This court has never accepted that premise, and has, instead, affirmed repeatedly the government’s ability to prohibit discriminatory conduct over the freedom of expression, association, and religion objections of entities ranging from law firms, and labor unions; to private schools, and universities; to membership organizations open to the public; to restaurants, and newspapers. Retail bakeries should fare no differently.”

The brief also argues a ruling in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop would lead to a slippery-slope of discrimination other than against same-sex couples and in capacities other than wedding cakes.

“If the First Amendment bars a state from applying an anti-discrimination law to the sale of wedding cakes because they involve artistry, then bakeries could refuse to provide cakes for an interracial or interfaith couple’s wedding, a Jewish boy’s bar mitzvah, an African-American child’s birthday, or a woman’s business school graduation
party,” the brief says.

Mark Silverstein, legal director for the ACLU of Colorado, said in a statement a ruling in upholding Colorado’s non-discrimination law is essential.

“As a nation and as a state, we decided decades ago that businesses that are open to the public should be open to everyone on the same terms,” Silverstein said. “A ruling allowing discrimination in this case would have implications far beyond LGBT people. It would put in jeopardy longstanding protections against discrimination here in Colorado and across the country.”

The other 75-page brief filed by Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which determined Phillips violated the state law, asserts state laws like Colorado’s have prohibited discrimination in the United States for more than 150 years.

“Phillips demands respect for his religious beliefs, and that respect is secured by the Constitution,” the brief says. “But under that same Constitution, a religious belief is no justification for a State — or a business open to the general public — to treat a class of people as inferior simply because of who they are.”

Oral arguments will be held in the case on Dec. 5.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. believer

    October 24, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    “But under that same Constitution, a religious belief is no justification for a State — or a business open to the general public — to treat a class of people as inferior simply because of who they are.”

    Except who they are isn’t really who they are. That would be a lie. Homosexuality is not an immutable trait, it is a sexual behavior. The truth is a wedding ceremony is a religious event that celebrates the first divine law of Christianity. Because of this fact, the couple who targeted the baker seeks to discriminate against him because of his religious beliefs. If the courts stick to the truth, the baker will prevail. If the court has been deceived by all the homosexual falsehoods that even go so far as to say their struggles are the same as the black civil rights movement, or denying to bake a cake is the same as murder (a fireman’s refusal to remove a black person from a burning building), then the SCOTUS justices would have to be impeached because they would have demonstrated their inability to seek the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

    • lnm3921

      October 24, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Religion isn’t an immutable trait. It’s a choice! You can choose not to have one! No a wedding is a civil event that does not require religion to make it legal! The state issues the marriage license, enforces the rights of the married couple and issues a divorce! Religion is not involved with any of that!

      Their is no hierarchy of oppression by which the black civil rights movement is the only legitimate kind of civil rights movement!

      Invoking faith as an excuse to legitimize discrimination for any reason against a gay couple or gay person cannot stand in the secular! That’s a slippery slope which has no end! Why can’t you deny people condoms if not married or other form of birth control if we let you get away with that? Then it’s denying a gay couple benefits that other couples can have for healthcare for example. Or denying employment because they are married to someone of the same gender. NO! Nip it in the bud!

      As for the truth, you can’t handle the truth! You’re like your fake POTUS, spinning lies by the minute!

    • vreed lak72

      October 29, 2017 at 2:02 am

      “Religion” and “creed” are covered under the exact same law at issue. They most certainly are not “immutable” traits as people convert to different religions, become atheists or become born again all the time. TRY AGAIN.

      You wrote: “The truth is a wedding ceremony is a religious event that celebrates the first divine law of Christianity.” SO, ARE YOU TELLING US THAT NON-CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES ARE ILLEGAL OR IRRELEVANT? That a Jewish couple’s marriage has no meaning to the State or atheists getting married? BULLSHIT. Wedding ceremonies are religious to some people, and they are not remotely religious to others. WHAT YOU SAID IS NOT A FACT AT ALL. WAY TO VIOLATE A COMMANDMENT. HYPOCRITE!

      • believer

        October 29, 2017 at 3:47 pm

        No, what I’m telling you as it relates to the facts in Masterpiece Cake Shop vs. Colorado is that the Court must accept the fact that Jack is a Christian and the Government cannot impose one orthodoxy over another or force Jack to act or speak in a way that celebrates a belief that Jack feels causes him to sin. Marriage is religious for Christians. Genesis 2:24-25.

        • vreed lak72

          October 29, 2017 at 5:31 pm

          Colorado does accept the fact that Jack is a Christian and is not enforcing one orthodoxy over another. It’s anti-discrimination law is not targeted at just “Christian” businesses – it applies to ALL businesses that are open to the public (whether they are owned by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, atheists or a group of Chinese stockholders) because the goal of the law is prohibit discrimination in the public marketplace.

          The law only requires that such businesses not discriminate. If Jack has an issue with selling one item that’s on his business menu (wedding cakes), he’s free to remove them at any time and sell them to no one, which is what he’s currently doing. WHERE IN THE BIBLE DOES IT SAY THAT ALL CHRISTIANS ARE REQUIRED TO OPEN UP BUSINESSES THAT ARE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND TO MAKE AND SELL WEDDING CAKES?

          Marriage is religious for some Christians. Not all people share his beliefs or your beliefs. If he cannot reconcile this religious beliefs with the legal requirement not to discriminate – HE NEEDS TO GET OUT OF THE WEDDING BUSINESS OR RESTRUCTURE IT IN A MANNER SO IT IS NOT A “PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION” AND WILL BE EXEMPT FROM THE LAW (a “private club” or one that isn’t open to the public and finds customers on a referral basis only). PS: He’s also free to assign the task to employees of the bakery and he’s also free to subcontract the job out to a completely different bakery (businesses subcontract work out all the time for various reasons.

          The law governs CONDUCT (not speech). It doesn’t require Jack to say anything. It doesn’t prohibit him from saying anything. Colorado has told him that he’s free to discuss his religious beliefs with any customer and he’s free to post them in the store and on his website. Colorado has also informed him that he’s free to provide any disclaimer that he wants – to the effect that the provision of a baked good in accordance with the law in no way constitutes the approval of the bakery (or its owner) of the event at which the baked goods are eaten – if Jack freakishly believes that in the 20+ years of his corporation selling wedding cakes also consisted of selling his personal approval of each and every one of his customer’s wedding. The law only prohibits HIS CORPORATION from refusing to provide full and equal service to a customer solely due to the customer’s sexual orientation.

          • believer

            October 29, 2017 at 6:00 pm

            It would be ridiculously incompetent for you to believe that the Court has a right to compel Jack’s affirmation of an orthodoxy belief that is contrary to his own. I’m surprised this is even a case before the Supreme Court.

          • vreed lak72

            October 29, 2017 at 6:26 pm

            The Court isn’t compelling him to affirm any kind of orthodoxy. It’s requiring him to not discriminate against customers.

            We can agree on something, I’m surprised this is even before the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the exact same case back in 2014 involving a NM wedding photographer who refused to do a job for a lesbian couple. SCOTUS let New Mexico’s ruling AGAINST the photographer stand. See: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/supreme-court-wont-review-new-mexico-gay-commitment-ceremony-photo-case/2014/04/07/f9246cb2-bc3a-11e3-9a05-c739f29ccb08_story.html?utm_term=.117459b295a3

            And, also considering that the US Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s decision 50 years ago that a business owner could use his religious beliefs as an excuse to refuse to serve customers in violation of anti-discrimination law. See Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises (1968).

            YOU DIDN’T ANSWER MY QUESTION: WHERE IN THE BIBLE DOES IT COMMAND CHRISTIANS LIKE JACK PHILLIPS TO OPEN UP A CORPORATION THAT’S OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND TO MAKE AND SELL WEDDING CAKES? I’m not familiar with such a passage.

          • believer

            October 29, 2017 at 7:36 pm

            Marriage is in the Bible. (Genesis 2:24-25). It creates and institutes the family dynamic and male and female sexuality. I will answer your question when you answer mine: What is the authority that SCOTUS used to “redefine” marriage for everyone?

          • vreed lak72

            October 29, 2017 at 8:46 pm

            ANSWER MINE QUESTIONS FIRST – I ASKED FIRST: WHERE IN THE BIBLE DOES IT COMMAND CHRISTIANS LIKE JACK PHILLIPS TO OPEN UP A CORPORATION THAT’S OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND TO MAKE AND SELL WEDDING CAKES?

            WHERE DOES IT SAY IN COLORADO’S ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW THAT COLORADO IS COMPELS PEOPLE TO ADOPT ANY KIND OF ORTHODOXY?

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Miscellaneous

The evolution of the open house

The more sophisticated the advertising, the more the events flourished

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From car giveaways in the 1950s to today’s QR codes and virtual events, agents have used diverse strategies to draw buyers to open houses.

In the early 20th century, there were no exclusive agreements between a seller and a real estate agent. Any broker who knew of someone wanting to sell could participate in an “open listing” by planting his sign in the yard of that person and competing with agents from other brokerages who did the same. To the victor who obtained a buyer went the spoils of commission.

The rules began to change in 1919, when being a real estate broker now required a license. An agent might handle only one property at a time exclusively, but an “open for inspection” period could be used to introduce a model home or new community to the buying population. 

According to the National Association of Realtors, Dallas homebuilder, Howdy Howard, hosted one of the most successful open houses of all time in the 1950s. During the first 12 days of the event, an estimated 100,000 people attended, drawn by free sodas and the ultimate prize for the buyer – a new Cadillac.

Soon, brokers began hiring additional agents who could handle multiple properties. Unlike Howard’s marathon open house, agents would now host them for a few hours at a time, usually on a Sunday, to whet the appetite of the buyer pool. 

Classified advertisements with a description of a property would be placed in a local newspaper and potential buyers would review them with their morning coffee to decide which houses to visit later in the day. 

Marketing in newspapers went from a few lines of black and white text to a photo of a home’s exterior, to a multi-page spread that included both photos of houses and the agents who represented them.

The more sophisticated the advertising became, the more the open house flourished as a marketing tool, not only for the home itself, but also for the agent and the brokerage. It allowed agents to prospect for buyers for that home and others, and converse with neighbors who might want to sell their homes as well. 

Soon, the sign-in sheet was born, used by the agent to capture the contact information of a potential client or customer and to let the seller know who had visited his home. While sign-in sheets or cards are still used, some agents have gravitated to electronic applications, using a tablet computer instead of paper for the same purpose.

Fast forward to the early 2000s in D.C., when open houses became the primary source of showing property. An agent would enter a property into the multiple listing service (MLS) on a Thursday, entertain no showings until Saturday, host an open house on Sunday afternoon, and call for offers either Sunday night or Monday. The open house allowed agents to send their buyers rather than accompany them and serve multiple clients at once.  

The delayed showing day strategy referenced above has since been supplanted by the MLS’s Coming Soon status. Agents can now email or text links to upcoming properties to their clients in advance of showing availability and the clients can view photos, read property descriptions and disclosures, and schedule future visits accordingly.

Enter COVID-19. Due to the proliferation of the virus and the subsequent lockdown, the real estate world had to accommodate new public health requirements. 

One of the first things to go was the open house. Even agent showings were constrained, with visitors limited to an agent plus two people and additional requirements for wearing masks and disposable shoe covers and gloves. 

Overlapping appointments were not allowed, showings were limited to 15 to 30 minutes, and bottles of hand sanitizer sprung up on kitchen counters everywhere.

Ultimately, technology and ingenuity provided new marketing avenues for agents that included 3-D virtual open houses, Facetime and Duo viewings, videos, property websites and QR codes. Many of these marketing techniques remain, even though traditional open houses are coming back post-lockdown.

But are they really necessary? Certainly not for all types of properties. 

I believe the days of using a public open house to procure a buyer are limited. Agent security has become a concern and the desire for in-person viewings during a specific day or time has waned. 

On the other hand, Internet marketing and social media have a much wider reach, so much so that some people now feel comfortable buying a home – probably the most expensive item they will ever purchase – without even stepping into it until after closing.

After all, if we can work in sweatpants or pajamas while Zooming corporate meetings, how can naked virtual reality house hunting be far behind?

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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Miscellaneous

D.C. homebuyers face hyper competitive market

Sellers in driver’s seat as region faces record low inventory

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housing market, gay news, Washington Blade

With job growth rising during a period of aggressive government spending and historically low mortgage rates, the spring 2021 market sits at the lowest level of inventory since 1983.

Homebuyers in the D.C. area continue to face an incredibly competitive market. This is truly a seller’s market.

Lack of Inventory: Washington, D.C. has been in a gradually worsening housing shortage since the Great Recession. The area hasn’t had a six-month supply of homes for sale for almost 12 years. Now, we add a global pandemic that seriously altered what homeowners want out of their home, Wall Street on fire, and insanely low interest rates and we get a surge in motivated homebuyers.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the number of homes nationwide reached a record low in December 2020, with just 1.07 million properties on the market. The DC metro area is even worse off than the national average with only one month’s supply of homes. That means if new listings were completely dried up, there would be no homes available in four weeks. On average, D.C. homes have been selling within 11 days, which is 15 days faster than this time in 2020.

Seller’s Market: The time is now for Washington, D.C. homeowners to seriously consider selling their homes if they have played with the idea. Experts predict 2021 will be another strong housing market with an increase in demand from existing homebuyers in search of larger homes and buyers who delayed purchasing a home due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Zillow forecasts a nearly 30 percent annual growth in homes for sale in 2021. This would be the largest home sales growth since 1983. Zillow’s annual report stated, “Home price appreciation will reach its fastest pace since the Great Recession, as the inventory crunch continues to pit buyers against each other, competing for a scarce number of homes for sale.”

D.C.’s Current Market: According to the NAR, in March of 2021, D.C. home prices had increased 4.1% compared to March 2020, for a median price of $635,000. There were 1,004 homes sold in March 2021, an increase from 842 at this time last year.

We are seeing many homes receive multiple offers within just a few days in the D.C. area. The average home is selling a little above 1% of the listing price and many hot homes are seeing large bidding wars and selling for 3% or more above the listing price; 42.7% of D.C. homes sold above list price in March of 2021. That is a 13.4% increase from last year at this time. Active inventory for March of 2021 was 1,457 homes, down 9% from March 2020. March 2021 also saw 991 homes sell in the D.C. area, an increase of 31% from February of 2021. March 2021’s total homes sold had a 19% increase from March 2020.

Buying a Home: In the current seller’s market, buying a home can be like playing a chess match. You need to know the rules and be strategic. It can seem more like winning than purchasing a home right now. If you find a home you want to buy, chances are you won’t be the only one making an offer. It is a seller’s market everywhere in the country right now and D.C. is no different. Be sure you know what you qualify for and what you can afford.

Conclusion: The NAR and the Mortgage Bankers Association both project prices of existing homes to increase 5.9% in 2021. This may mean buyers will have to be more flexible than in the past. For example, making an offer contingent upon the sale of a current home may be harder than before. It’s also possible you will pay more than the list price. The D.C. real estate market is on fire and many homes are off the market within 24 hours of listing. For sellers, if you have been thinking of selling your home there is no better time than the present.

 

Khalil El-Ghoul is Principal Broker for Glass House Real Estate. Reach him at [email protected] or 571-235-4821. Glass House Real Estate is a modern, more affordable way to buy and sell a home in the D.C. Metro area. Learn more about what makes us different at glassshousere.com.

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Miscellaneous

Kick-ass crossovers

Still the hottest vehicles in dealer showrooms

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crossovers, gay news, Washington Blade

Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

Crossovers keep wending their way into our driveways—and our hearts. After overtaking sedans, station wagons and minivans as the hottest vehicles in dealer showrooms, crossovers are now taking aim at the most quintessential of American rides: the muscle car. With naughty looks and hepped-up engines, the two dynamite crossovers below are sure to blow your mind—and just maybe your budget.

DODGE DURANGO SRT HELLCAT
$81,000
Mpg: 12 city/17 highway
0 to 60 mph: 3.5 seconds

For more than 20 years, the Dodge Durango has been a solid if nondescript family hauler. But this year the automaker jazzed up its midsize crossover with brawnier styling and the latest tech toys. And for the first time, Dodge is offering a limited-edition Durango SRT Hellcat—a high-test model with the same hellacious Hemi V8 engine in the Challenger super coupe and Charger sport sedan. With 710 horsepower, this blazingly fast crossover can kick some serious ass, outrunning many a Ferrari and Lamborghini.

The upgraded suspension provides more dynamic handling and cornering, as well as selectable steering for better grip. For straight-line acceleration and to prevent nasty fish-tailing, I simply flipped the “launch control” toggle switch. The massive Brembo brakes also were stellar, with stop-on-a-dime performance and flaming red calipers on each wheel. Another plus: the iconic Hellcat exhaust rumble could be heard blocks away—music to the ears of any auto aficionado. As with all Durangos, this bruiser has best-in-class towing capacity of 8,700 pounds.

Inside, there’s plenty of space, including more room than expected for third-row passengers. The steering wheel, dash, and trim accents now have trendy Euro styling, though it’s more VW than upscale Audi. And you can opt for flashy seatbelts and premium seats in a color Dodge calls Demonic Red, along with black velour floor mats and a soft-touch headliner. Other features include heated/ventilated seats, a large 10.1-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone integration and the ability to pair two Bluetooth devices at once. Options include a 19-speaker Harman Kardon stereo and rear-seat entertainment with Blue-Ray player. Alas, this is a limited-edition model and all 2,000 of these speed demons quickly sold out months ago. But there’s still hope: Dodge allocated some of the racy Durangos to select dealerships, so you can call around to see if any are still available. And you can always try social media to find a lucky Durango Hellcat owner who just might be willing to sell this rollicking ride, if the price is right.

LAND ROVER DEFENDER X
$85,000
Mpg: 17 city/22 highway
0 to 60 mph: 5.7 seconds

For decades, both the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover have been ubiquitous in the United States. Not so the smaller and less ostentatious Defender, often seen as a work-horse vehicle in BritBox reruns or action flicks like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. But last year the Defender returned to these shores after nearly a quarter-century hiatus.

Available in two- or four-door models, both Defenders start around $50,000. My test vehicle was the new top-of-the-line Defender X, which added—yikes!—another $35,000 to the sticker price. The look on these crossovers is boxy chic, which allows for a ginormous amount of headroom, legroom and cargo space. Land Rover also added extra stowage areas and cubby holes, as well as transom windows and a sliding panoramic sunroof to keep things airy. While the cabin may be sparse and full of solid plastics, the walnut trim on the center console and door panels is quite elegant.

Land Rovers have a somewhat infamous reputation for less-than-stellar electronics, but the 10-inch touchscreen was crystal clear and synced up seamlessly with the infotainment system. Tricked out with a jet-black roof, hood, and side cladding, the press vehicle I test drove was painted a haughty Eiger Gray Metallic. It also came with thick all-terrain tires, adding to a slightly menacing vibe. A full-size spare is conveniently mounted on the vertical tailgate, which swings completely open like a refrigerator door for easy access. The Defender X may not be as lightning quick as a Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, but it’s still plenty fast. And this brute can tackle the toughest of terrains, thanks to locking differentials, hill-descent control and a standard air suspension that can raise the chassis 11.5 inches above the ground. Overall, the Defender X can’t quite hide its refined roots as a tony Land Rover. But as with the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, this burly crossover flexes some serious muscle.

Land Rover Defender X

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