Michael Imperioli blasts ‘blatantly discriminatory’ Supreme Court after anti-LGBTQ+ ruling

Michael Imperioli

Actor Michael Imperioli, the star of The White Lotus, has clarified his stance on a recent Supreme Court ruling, after banning “bigots and homophobes” from watching his shows.

June came to a bitter end when the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of Lorie Smith, a Christian wedding-web-designer, by deciding that she was within her right to refuse her services to same-sex couples on religious grounds.

The 6-3 majority decision, which was handed down on the basis of First Amendment right to free speech by associate justice Neil Gorsuch, alongside five other conservative judges on the court, has prompted fears over its wider implications for the LGBTQ+ community.

Stars such as Pedro Pascal have highlighted the troubling nature of the historic decision, which activists believe could lead to hard-won LGBTQ+ protections being stripped away, including the landmark nationwide 2015 ruling that legalised gay marriage across the country.

Pascal was joined by actors Ben Platt and fiancé Noah Galvin, as well as Imperioli.

Over the weekend, the actor made headlines when he forbade “bigots and homophobes” from watching all of his past TV and film work, in a now-deleted social media post.

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“I’ve decided to forbid bigots and homophobes from watching The SopranosThe White LotusGoodfellas or any movie or TV show I’ve been in,” the actor wrote in a furious post to his 300,000 Instagram followers, thanking the United States for allowing him to discriminate against whomever he pleased.

Now, Imperioli has followed up his move with a message clarifying his comments – and it’s even stronger than the first.

“The post referred to here was a satirical and symbolic take on where blatantly discriminatory Supreme Court decisions are taking us as a nation: into utter division and possibly far worse,” the star wrote in an Instagram post on Tuesday (4 July, Independence Day in the US) alongside a screenshot of CNN’s coverage of his original comments.

“I believe in religious freedom, freedom of speech and the right for individuals to pursue happiness. I also believe in the separation of Church and state, as stated in the First Amendment,” Imperioli continued.

“I believe that all people, regardless of race, religion, colour, creed, gender or sexuality, are entitled to freedom, equality, rights and protection under the laws of our nation, and I vehemently oppose hate, prejudice and bigotry – and always have.

“Some people have not gotten the irony… I thought I’d be more explicit,” he concluded.

In line with classic MIMO (Michael Imperioli modus operandi), which involves political posts being deleted after a few days, the post announcing his original ban is no longer available.

The actor told Vice in 2020 that he deletes his posts after a few days to “cleanse his timeline of the negativity that often infiltrates the zen garden he’s created on the platform”.

Imperioli famously played notorious mobster Christopher Moltisanti, in HBO crime drama The Sopranos. He returned to HBO 15 years later to play Dominic di Grasso, a sex-addicted Hollywood producer in the second season of The White Lotus, alongside Jennifer Coolidge.

Michael Imperioli in The White Lotus. (HBO)

The controversial Supreme Court ruling was opposed by associate justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Writing in The New York Times, Sotomayor said: “Today, the court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class.”

Elsewhere in her dissent at the ruling, she wrote: “The LGBT rights movement has made historic strides, and I am proud of the role this court has recently played in that history. Today, however, we are taking steps backward… Today is a sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people.”