Denver, CO — A judge has ordered a Colorado bakery that refused to make a cake for a same-sex ceremony to serve gay couples, despite the owner’s religious beliefs, or face fines.
Judge Robert N. Spencer said Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver discriminated against a couple last year “because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage.”
Spencer ordered Masterpiece Cakeshop to “cease and desist from discriminating” against same-sex couples. While the judge did not impose fines in this particular case, the bakery will face penalties if it continues to deny gay couples.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint against bakery owner Jack Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission on behalf of 33-year-old Charlie Craig and 29-year-old David Mullins in June. The couple married in Massachusetts in 2012, but wanted a rainbow layer wedding cake to celebrate their union in Colorado. Phillips turned them away when he found out the cake was for a gay ceremony. He told them, “I’ll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you brownies and cookies, I just don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.”
The discrimination complaint said Masterpiece Cakeshop had a history of denying same-sex couples.
Jack Phillips’ attorney, Nicolle Martin, said of the ACLU’s complaint, “We don’t believe this is a case about commerce. At its heart, this is a case about conscience. It brings it to the forefront. I just don’t think that we should heighten one person’s beliefs over and above another person’s beliefs.”
Phillips argued that applying the anti-discrimination law in this case violated his First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of religion. He also noted that Colorado doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, and said that making a cake for a gay marriage would “displease God.” But Spencer said that Phillips’ “refusal to serve a same-sex couple due to religious objection to same-sex weddings is no different from refusing to serve a biracial couple because of religious objection to biracial marriage.”
Charlie Craig and David Mullins weren’t the only ones turned away by Masterpiece Cakeshop. A Yelp user named Samantha S. warned anyone else with an “alternative” lifestyle that the bakery “does not want your business, as they do not participate in making cakes for ‘illegal’ things, such as a commitment ceremony.”