On the eve of Tuesday’s hotly contested mayoral and supervisorial elections, several candidates came together in San Francisco’s Castro District Monday to denounce the Supreme Court’s decision to side with a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple.
Mayoral candidate and former state Sen. Mark Leno joined City College Trustee and supervisorial candidate Rafael Mandelman and his incumbent opponent, District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, in condemning the controversial decision that left many in the LGBTQ community feeling targeted.
“No one in business serving the public should have the right to discriminate against anyone,” Leno said, speaking at a rally at Harvey Milk Plaza. “I would make the case that if we put any other class of protected people in that case we would not be here today.”
Leno, if elected, would be the city’s first openly gay mayor. Sheehy and Mandelman, who are both openly gay, are vying to represent District 8, which includes the Castro District.
The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, pitted religious freedom against anti-discrimination laws. The 7-2 decision in favor of the cake shop allowed its owner to refuse service to a gay couple, citing religious belief. The ruling has drawn outrage in San Francisco and nationwide.
The ruling reversed a previous decision on the case handed down by a Colorado state commission, which Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in his decision said violated the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom.
Kennedy went on to say that similar cases in the future may be decided differently, but this did little to console leaders in San Francisco just weeks before the Pride Parade and Celebration.
“The Supreme Court has given the LGBTQ community a bitter start to Pride month,” Mandelman said as he stood under Milk’s moniker. “It is absolutely clear with this decision that we have not achieved legal equality.”
Sheehy, Mandelman’s opponent, also joined the spattering of press and politicians and spoke to the small crowd.
“The Supreme Court should be going out of its way to affirm the rights of minorities in this country no matter who they are,” Sheehy said. “We have a Supreme Court that is not affirming these rights in these times when they are all under assault.”
The candidates left after 15 minutes, but not before Leno expressed the collective feeling on tomorrow’s primary election.
“We are all ready for tomorrow,” he said. “We are all ready for tomorrow to come to an end.”
Not one to be left out, mayoral candidate and former Supervisor Angela Alioto also made an appearance at the protest, passing by in a small tour bus shaped like a cable car. She did not make a statement but rang the bell loudly as she passed by with a smile and a wave.