Bates responds to Supreme Court ruling in LGBTQ+ case

Dear Members of the Bates Community,

We write to express our serious concern about today’s Supreme Court decision in 303 Creative, LLC v. Elenis and to offer support to our LGBTQ+ community in light of this ruling. The Court invokes the First Amendment to shield businesses from liability when they discriminate based on sexual orientation. The case involved a private business that intends to design wedding websites and objects to serving same-sex couples, claiming that its right to object should be protected by the First Amendment. In finding merit in the private business’s claim, the Court departs from its own long-standing position that “unique evils” follow from discrimination in public commerce.

It is not lost on us that this decision comes during the month of Pride, a celebration of LGBTQ+ activism and culture. While we are heartened by the growth in and popularity of Pride events in recent years, the struggle for equal rights continues. Since 2022, over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation have been introduced in various states, and more than 80 have passed, as part of a deliberate and multi-pronged strategy to eliminate or reduce the public policy progress that has been made in the past 20 years to advance the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people across the nation.   

We are committed to ensuring that LGBTQ+ community members find a sense of safety, dignity, and belonging on campus. Given the increasingly challenging external environment, we will look for ways to strengthen our support of the LGBTQ+ community at Bates, and we welcome your feedback and participation in this endeavor. We will also offer opportunities for our community to better understand the Court’s decision and its implications. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the topic, please see these resources.

Education is one of the most powerful means available for individuals to pursue their interests and life goals, but this is true only if all persons are supported to do so in authentic ways. We work hard at Bates to foster a culture that engages the transformative power of our differences in our classrooms, in our curriculum, and in our campus community. And now we must all work even harder.


Clayton Spencer

Garry W. Jenkins