Victory For Gay Weddings

Colorado Supreme Court: Ruling That Baker Can’t Cite Religious Beliefs To Deny Same-Sex Cakes Stands

On Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court took a stand for LGBT rights when it declined to hear the case of a Denver baker who refused to make a same-sex wedding cake, citing his religious beliefs. Jack Phillips owns the Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver, Colorado, and in 2012 the baker refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins. When the baker refused, on what he called “religious grounds,” the same-sex couple filed a suit with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, reports Yahoo News. In December of 2013, the Colorado Commission ruled in favor of the couple, declaring that the baker had discriminated against them and that he must change his policy against making gay wedding cakes or “face fines.”

Before the case made it to the Colorado Supreme Court, it was heard by the Colorado Court of Appeals, which also ruled against the baker, agreeing that refusing to bake a gay wedding cake constituted discrimination. According to Charlie Craig, who applauded Monday’s decision by the Colorado Supreme Court along with his husband, the couple only persisted with the long and arduous legal process because they wanted to send a clear message and see a clear precedent set as a result of the discrimination they endured. Craig said that he wanted the precedent set that “discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation was not only wrong but illegal.”

“We didn’t want anyone to have to go through what we did.”

Cake Topper
[Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images]
Following the ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals, the case about gay wedding cakes, religious freedom and discrimination was filed with the Colorado Supreme Court. It was only Monday, after a years-long legal battle, that the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear the Christian baker’s appeal, effectively stripping businesses in Colorado of the right to refuse service to customers based solely on their sexual orientation, even if providing them service violates the business owner’s deeply held religious beliefs. News of the ruling took social media by storm.

Phillips’ lawyer, Nicolle Martin, said she was surprised that the Colorado Supreme Court refused to consider the case. She went on to say that she and her client hadn’t decided whether or not to further pursue the matter by asking the Colorado Supreme Court to reconsider or by filing with the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This is a matter that affects all Americans, not just people of faith.”

The Colorado Supreme Court’s seven members released a brief statement stating that the group had decided not to hear the case. Two of the justices, Chief Justice Nancy Rice and Justice Nathan Coats, said they would have considered arguments in several key areas of the LGBT discrimination vs. religious liberty case. Specifically, they wondered whether using Colorado’s anti-discrimination law to “force” the baker to “create artistic expression,” i.e., a wedding cake, could be a violation of the baker’s first amendment rights.

At the time that Craig and Mullins requested that Phillips make them a cake for their gay wedding celebration, same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in Colorado. The pair had been married in Massachusetts, where gay marriage was legal, and they wanted to celebrate their nuptials in Colorado.

This is far from the first time in recent months and years that the issue of gay marriage and discrimination against the LGBT community has been brought before a state Supreme Court or even the United States Supreme Court. North Carolina is in the midst of what could be a bitter legal battle over its new anti-LGBT legislation that requires transgender citizens to use the public bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate and also prevents state and local municipalities from passing anti-discrimination bills protecting the LGBT community in the state.

Gay Cake Topper
[Photo illustration by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]
Colorado briefly considered similar legislation in February. The bill introduced to the Colorado House would have prevented the state from taking legal action that could “burden a person’s religious freedom” in cases of LGBT discrimination, unless doing so was the “least restrictive means” of handling the situation. That bill ended up being postponed indefinitely.

Jack Phillips didn’t personally answer questions regarding Monday’s Colorado Supreme Court ruling today, instead referring them to his attorney. In the past, Phillips has said that he has “no problem” serving gay people, but that making a same-sex wedding cake would “violate his Christian beliefs.”

As for the couple that was victimized by anti-gay discrimination and then redeemed by the Colorado Supreme Court, they think that America is actually, finally “moving in the direction of accepting LGBT people.”

[Image Courtesy Of David McNew/Getty Images]

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