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Both Sides See Positives For Arkansas In Supreme Court Ruling

Stefano Bolognini

Organizations in Arkansas from both ends of the political spectrum are finding things to celebrate from a ruling Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple on the grounds that it violated his religious beliefs.

Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council, a conservative education and research group in Arkansas, sees the ruling as a win.

"It’s not a broad ruling that applies to all cake bakers in the world, but it is a victory for religious freedom. And so in that regard I would give it average to above average as far as being the right kind of ruling and moving the lines in the direction that I believe they need to go,” Cox said.

Holly Dickson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, believes the majority opinion of the justices clearly indicates support for stronger anti-discrimination laws.

“The outcome is disappointing,” said Dixon, “but it’s limited to unique concerns in this case that the baker didn’t have a fair hearing before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. What is promising is that the court did not accept the baker and the Trump administration’s invitation to give a wholesale license to discriminate.”

John DiPippa, dean emeritus of the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law, says his reading of the written opinion indicates one purpose of the ruling was to make it clear to lower courts to be fair when applying anti-discrimination legislation.

“Seven justices agreed that Colorado did not act neutrally but that, in the future, states could perhaps – if they were fairer in their application of the law – require bakers to bake cakes in situations like this,” DiPippa said.

Arkansas currently has no statewide legal protections based on sexual orientation.