Equality and Liberty

  • February 19, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Julie A. Werner-Simon 

    *Abbreviated version of published article with permission of the Los Angeles Daily Journal 2-13-18

    In the case which pundits are calling “the Kern County Cake Case,” a California superior court judge held a two-hour hearing on Friday, February 2, during which a California state agency which enforces California’s anti-discrimination laws was pitted against chief counsel of a religious freedom advocacy group, the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund. Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. Cathy’s Creations, Inc. dba Tastries, BCV-17-102855. The issue? Should a Bakersfield baker who operates a commercial business open to the public be required to make cakes for gay weddings? The Kern County judge, a home-grown jurist and “man of faith,” found for the baker. The court ruled that cake-making is artistic expression and that when used for a wedding, “there could not be a greater form of expressive conduct.”

  • February 15, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Eric Lesh, Executive Director, LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York and Art Leonard, Robert F. Wagner Professor of Labor and Employment Law, New York Law School. He is also the Editor of LGBT Law Notes

    As the Supreme Court’s 2017-18 Term began, it looked like a banner term for LGBT-related cases at the nation’s highest court. The Court had already granted review in a “gay wedding cake” case from Colorado, Masterpiece Cakeshop. But the hopes for a blockbuster term have rapidly faded.

    Here are some of the LGBT-related controversies that dropped off the Supreme Court docket this Term.

  • January 25, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and founding director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law - University Park

    Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy implemented in 2012 that to date has enabled nearly 800,000 people who came to the United States before the age of sixteen, establish the requisite residence, physical presence and educational requirements to request a form of prosecutorial discretion known as “deferred action.” Originating from a rule published by the Reagan administration in 1981, grantees of deferred action may request work authorization if they can establish “economic necessity.” After receiving work authorization, the type of work a DACA recipient may enter is unrestricted, enabling one to pursue a job in a variety of sectors. DACA recipients with college degrees in a high-demand field are eligible to work in the area of their study and often do.   

  • January 24, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Muriel Bowser, Mayor, Washington, DC

    Amid the much-needed and continuing conversation on sexual harassment across the country, my team and I undertook a deeply introspective and forward-looking review of the District of Columbia’s sexual harassment policy.

    The Challenge. I hope that our policy and program of trainings, reporting, and remediation inspire action by other cities, corporations, universities, law firms, non-profit organizations, and other governmental employers. Indeed, I challenge other leaders to create a culture of respect, to rearticulate norms against sexual harassment, to empower their workforces to report unwanted and harassing sexual conduct, and to establish effective remedies for sexual harassment. While sexual harassment does not only victimize women, taking strong action to combat harassment will in turn help to empower women, a cause near and dear to my heart.

    On December 18, 2017, I signed an updated Mayor’s Order on sexual harassment that clearly defines sexual harassment, reporting, protections, defenses, and available training. While grounded on principles found within the District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977, this new policy is in line with current laws, technology, culture, and workplace dynamics. All District Government employees have received a copy of this policy and clear guidance that sexual harassment is strictly prohibited in District government.

  • January 22, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Julie A. Werner-Simon, is a former federal prosecutor  

    *Reprinted with permission of LA Daily Journal, 1-10-18

    When a new pope is selected by the assemblage of cardinals at the Vatican, the papal conclave releases white smoke into the sky. There are no smoke signals at the U.S. Supreme Court, but if one had a good sense of smell on Monday, the scent of cake appeared to be wafting from the neoclassical edifice at 1 First Street. The Supreme Court rejected two petitions challenging the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ upholding of a Mississippi law that permits businesses, religious organizations and government employees (as well as other organizations and individuals) to refuse service to gay people, to people who identify with a gender other than that with which they were born, as well as people of any gender who have sexual relations outside of marriage. Barber v. Bryant, 17-547 and Campaign for Southern Equality v.  Bryant, 17-642.