Official Statement on Two Supreme Court Decisions Affecting Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
In the wake of two recent United States Supreme Court Rulings that affect the work of diversity, equity & inclusion of marginalized communities, Chosen Family of Michigan feels that it is important to address this in a more comprehensive way than our traditional written official statements. I want to first thank our Policy Squad for their assistance in helping us to review these cases.
Our vision is centered on uplifting marginalized communities into equity, understanding and opportunity.
In Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, the conservative majority ruled in favor of the plaintiff, stating that race cannot be a factor considered in college admissions. Race has been used as one factor to assist colleges in creating a more diverse college environment. After this ruling, many news providers questioned the overall standing of diversity, equity & inclusion programs at colleges. As DEI education & consulting is one of Chosen Family's major programs, we wanted to directly address this. First, this case was narrowly focused on race. Although future court decisions might address whether or not other protected demographics- such as sexual orientation or gender identity- can be used in admissions processes, as of right now, these other groups weren't directly affected by this decision. Additionally, this decision affects one tool in the DEI toolbelt, there are many other tools that can and should continue to be utilized. Educating staff on pronouns or intersectionality to create more inclusive campus environments, or curbing the increase in tuition rates to assist colleges in being more accessible to lower-income communities- whom many of which are also marginalized, addressing inequitable policies, or creating more partnerships with inner city highschools to help create a bridge to higher education, are all programs that can continue. It also doesn't prevent students from using things like race in their admissions essays and for colleges to consider it as a factor if it directly ties to other life experiences-an example being if it's part of why they took on a leadership role in a place the student volunteers at. Uplifting marginalized communities isn't about granting "special privileges," it's about recognizing the reality that marginalized communities face many more barriers to entry & sometimes need a leg-up (not a hand-out) in order to achieve their dreams & contribute their gifts and talents to our communities.
In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the conservative majority again decided in favor of the plaintiff. In this case, a website designer did not want to design a custom wedding website for a theoretical LGBTQ+ couple, citing her religious beliefs. It's important to make clear that this case should be viewed as incredibly narrow, only applying to custom, original services. However, we have already seen businesses attempt to use this ruling to discriminate against customers in other types of businesses, including at a hair salon in Traverse City who wants to deny services to transgender customers.
Although I believe the website designer filed this case out bigotry, many on both sides of the isle can probably relate to the idea that we would want to avoid having to create customizable messages for causes we don't support. For example, if I were a cake decorator, I would not want to create a cake for a Nazi Party celebration. However, political opinions, or an individual's behaviors & choices, are simply that- choices, and are changeable. This differs from denying services to protected demographics and unchangeable characteristics- like who you love, or what color your skin is. Regardless, in this narrow decision, the website designer would still theoretically have to provide a basic, non-customized website to a gay couple. This decision should not provide license for businesses to discriminate in all types of service.
Professionally, both my business education & background in business has always taught me that not embracing the reality of diversity and serving all of those in a public marketplace economy is bad for business. Chosen Family of Michigan will continue to work to educate businesses and communities on the importance of DEI in the workplace.
Personally, as a person of faith, I believe my faith calls me to love others. My faith is not affected by the lifestyles of others & therefore I work to still serve those who might live their life differently than I would.
In the midst of unprecedented attacks on LGBTQ+ rights around the country, we have seen incredible progress in our home state of Michigan. However, with every step in the direction of equity, those who have hate & bigotry in their hearts will fight back even harder in an effort to undo our progress. Now more than ever, organizations like Chosen Family are needed to continue fighting, to continue advocating, to continue educating, and to continue serving our community. We need your help. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation at chosenfamilyofmichigan.org.