Some right-wing media figures are admitting that the case the Supreme Court decided June 30, siding with a homophobic website developer, is part of a larger conservative goal of eliminating protections for LGBTQ people in public life.
Right-wing media initially framed the ruling as an isolated victory for free speech related to artistic expression. So adamant were conservative outlets about the narrow scope and implications of the ruling that article after article accused mainstream and progressive outlets of misleading the public by pointing out the threat the decision posed to LGBTQ rights.
While some in right-wing media denied the case was a part of the larger conservative goal of eliminating public accommodations protections, allowing businesses to discriminate based on protected characteristics like sexuality, their less-filtered peers Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh, and Charlie Kirk were proudly admitting it was exactly that.
303 Creative v. Elenis proved to be the most successful product of an effort to eliminate civil rights protections for gay couples following the Obergefell marriage equality ruling, led by the Christian-identifying law firm Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF, which opposes civil rights protections for LGBTQ Americans and works to create legal avenues through which religious liberty can be coopted as a legal justification for inequity, failed to achieve its far-ranging goals in an earlier case ruled on by the Supreme Court in 2018, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
Both cases hinged on ADF’s argument that businesses involving some creative element — whether bakeries or, in the case of 303 Creative, website design — should be allowed to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation if businesses claim doing so is in line with their religious beliefs.
Right-wing media have regularly taken this argument at face value, assuming ADF, an organization that advocated for the criminalization of gay existence abroad, would draw a line in determining which businesses are allowed to discriminate. Other pundits, however, were less muted in acknowledging the step 303 Creative represents on the path to full elimination of civil rights protections pertaining to customers of businesses and other public accommodations.
When reacting live to the ruling during his show on June 30, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk defended the notion that private businesses should have the agency to discriminate without restraint, saying, “When we have liberty, you’re going to have certain people wall off their doors to their private business and say no, no, no.” He then described the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as “way too broad and largely poorly written,” saying his beliefs were in line with Christopher Caldwell, a conservative writer who decries the Civil Rights Act for stalling what he claims is the popular desire to discriminate against immigrants and LGBTQ people, among others. Kirk, who recently called LGBTQ people a “social contagion,” emphatically argued that the ruling was not targeted at LGBTQ people.
“The ability to say no,” Kirk added, “is what actually keeps our society orderly.”
Also on the day of the ruling, the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh tweeted that there “should be no ‘protected classes’ in any area of life,” and called for the abolishment of what he termed “special privileges for LGBT people and others deemed ‘protected.’”
In an earlier tweet from that day, Walsh said, “What a great way to end Pride Month. Gay activists do not have the right to force you to work for them. You are not a slave.”
Walsh recently said that the African slave trade was a positive, suggesting Black Americans in particular benefited from their ancestors’ enslavement.
On July 3, Walsh’s Daily Wire colleague, Ben Shapiro, was even more blunt on his show while celebrating the Supreme Court decision, calling the provisions of the Civil Rights Act that prevent businesses from discriminating based on race, color, religion, or national origin “wrongheaded” and claiming it was “an overstep in terms of constitutionality” because it stipulates that “if you act in business then you quote-unquote ‘cannot discriminate.’”