There's no denying that today's Supreme Court ruling in the case of Colorado's anti-gay baker is a morale booster for opponents of LGBT civil equality. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority decisions in every major pro-gay-rights decision over the last 25 years (Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas, United States v. Windsor, Obergefell v. Hodges), wrote today's decision—not Alito or Thomas or Gorsuch. The decision was "narrow," as everyone keeps saying, meaning it was decided on proceduralish grounds. Take it away, National Center for Lesbian Rights:
“Today’s Supreme Court decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop is a narrow, fact-based decision that does not break any new constitutional ground or create any new exemptions to anti-discrimination laws. The Court reversed the state court decision only because it found that the record in this case indicated that the Colorado Commission’s deliberations were tainted by anti-religious hostility. Nothing in the Court’s decision would require or permit the Commission to have reached a different substantive result in protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination. Today's decision leaves intact the longstanding principle that states can require businesses open to the public to serve everyone, even when some businesses believe that doing so violates their religious beliefs.”
How long that principal remains intact depends on how long conservative-but-usually-pro-LGBT-civil-equality Kennedy (age 81) remains on the court along with 85-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsberg (who dissented from Kennedy's decision) and 79-year-old Stephen Breyer (who voted with the majority). If Trump gets to replace any of these three justices with another AlitorGorsuchThomasRoberts, we can kiss the "longstanding principle that states can require businesses open to the public to serve everyone" goodbye—along with a woman's right to choose, what little is left of labor rights in this country, what little is left of voting rights in this country, what little is left of environmental regulations, etc.
The religious right—along with the entire GOP political and media establishment—lined up behind Donald Trump once he got the nomination because they wanted the courts. The right is not obsessed with purity, the right is obsessed with power. Just enough people on the left, however, are obsessed with purity. So in addition to listening to voices on the left insist that there was no difference between Gore and Bush—excuse me, no difference between Clinton and Trump—we were told that Hillary was the real warmonger, that Hillary didn't support same-sex marriage early enough, and that securing a liberal majority on the Supreme Court wasn't a good enough reason to vote for Clinton.
So here we are. Praying that Ginsberg, Breyer, and Kennedy live forever.
Not everyone on the left learned the lesson of 2000—the lesser of two evils is, you know, less evil and maybe "less evil" deserves your vote—but here's hoping everyone on the left got the message in 2016. Time will tell whether we learned that lesson too late.
UPDATE: Religious conservatives are spiking the ball—Twitter is a shitstain show right now—but HRC head Chad Griffin points out in a tweet of his own that religious bigots did not get the "license to discriminate" that they were praying for. He cites this from Kennedy's decision:
Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth. For that reason the laws and Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect them in the exercise of their civil rights.
Ian Millhiser at Thinkprogress highlights some more soothing rhetoric from Kennedy's decision:
More importantly, Kennedy adds that “it is a general rule that [religious] objections do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.” So, religious conservatives who hoped for a sweeping victory allowing them to defy civil rights laws have little to celebrate today. The holding in Masterpiece is unlikely to extend very far beyond this individual case.
So, yeah. Religious bigots who run businesses that are open to the public did not get the okay to deny service to LGBT members of the public nationwide. (It's currently legal for businesses to discriminate against LGBT people in 28 states.) But they most likely will if Trump gets to put one more justice on the court.