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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Colorado Baker

Mr.+Phillips+celebrates+after+his+victory+in+court+%28Via+CNN%29
Mr. Phillips celebrates after his victory in court (Via CNN)

Mr. Phillips celebrates after his victory in court (Via CNN)

Mr. Phillips celebrates after his victory in court (Via CNN)

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On Monday, June 4, the U.S. Supreme court ruled in favor of the Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. Originally the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled for the couple, citing that Mr. Phillips had violated a state law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, No. 16-111, arose from a brief encounter in 2012, when David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Mr. Phillips bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, in Lakewood, Colorado. The two men were going to be married in Massachusetts, and they were looking for a wedding cake for a reception in Colorado.

Mr. Phillips turned them down, saying he would not use his talents to convey a message of support for same-sex marriage at odds with his religious faith. Mr. Mullins and Mr. Craig said they were humiliated by Mr. Phillips’s refusal to serve them, and they filed a complaint with Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission, saying that Mr. Phillips had violated a state law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Mr. Mullins and Mr. Craig won before the commission and in the state courts.

The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that Mr. Phillips’s free speech rights had not been violated, noting that the couple had not discussed the cake’s design before Mr. Phillips turned them down. The court added that people seeing the cake would not understand Mr. Phillips to be making a statement and that he remained free to say what he liked about same-sex marriage in other settings.

The Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Phillips had his freedom of religion violated by the Civil Rights Commission and they had ruled unfairly. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority in the 7-to-2 decision,  said the Civil Rights Commission’s ruling against the baker, Jack Phillips, had been infected by religious animus. He cited what he said were “inappropriate and dismissive comments” from one commissioner in saying that the panel had acted inappropriately and that its decision should be overturned.

At the same time, Justice Kennedy strongly reaffirmed protections for gay rights.

“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” he wrote, “all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.” (NY Times)

The case was one of the most anticipated rulings of the term and was considered by some as a follow-up from the court’s decision three years ago to clear the way for same-sex marriage nationwide. That opinion, also written by Kennedy, expressed respect for those with religious objections to gay marriage.

“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,” he wrote Monday. (CNN)

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who represented Phillips, praised the ruling.

“Jack serves all customers; he simply declines to express messages or celebrate events that violate his deeply held beliefs,” Waggoner said in a statement. “Creative professionals who serve all people should be free to create art consistent with their convictions without the threat of government punishment.”  (CNN)

 

 

 

 

 

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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Colorado Baker