The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the owner of a bakery illegally discriminated when he declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
Two years ago, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, Jack Phillips, turned down business from Charlie Craig and David Mullins because, he said, participating in their same-sex union ceremony in that way would conflict with his Christian faith. The two men filed a legal complaint against him.
This was before the state legalized same-sex "marriage."
Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission ruled that Phillips violated the state’s anti-discrimination law, and ordered him and his staff to undergo anti-discrimination training and to submit quarterly reports on how he is changing company policies.
Instead, he decided not to make any wedding cakes, and appealed the ruling, arguing that he was willing to serve gay and lesbian customers who requested birthday cakes, cookies, and other “non-wedding cake products.”
But a three-judge panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals, in a unanimous ruling, said that “discrimination on the basis of one’s opposition to same-sex marriage is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
Phillips said that the Aug. 13 ruling means that the court created an exception to the First Amendment. “You’re entitled to believe, but not entitled to act on those beliefs,” he said in an Aug. 13 statement. “You’re not free if your beliefs are confined to your mind,”
According to Catholic News Agency, Philips objected that the court’s logic means different treatment for citizens who hold “government approved views on same-sex marriage” and those who do not.
According to the latest ruling, the law would bar the bakery from notifying customers that it refuses to provide services for a same-sex marriage, though the decision said the bakery could post a disclaimer saying that providing its services for such an event does not constitute an endorsement.
A strict application of state and local anti-discrimination laws and policies have begun to constrict the freedom of businesses and organizations with moral objections to homosexual acts and relationships.
Catholic-run adoption agencies in some states have been forced to close, because the law would require them to place children with same-sex couples against their religious beliefs.
Writing at The Federalist, senior editor David Harsanyi commented, "If nothing else, it’s comforting to know that Colorado can force an orthodox Islamic butcher to make pork sausages for a polyamorous bisexual bachelor/bachelorette party, as long as no one asks that butcher to promote swine and free love."
Lawyers for Masterpiece Cake Shop said the appeals court “got it wrong” and that they would probably appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, the New York Times reported.
“Our client did not engage in sexual-orientation discrimination,” said Jeremy Tedesco, a senior lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group based in Arizona. He argued that an objection to same-sex marriage was not the same as discriminating against a gay person and noted that the baker… also refused to make cakes celebrating Halloween because he associates the holiday with Satan.
“Cake decorating is his medium for creating art and they are compelling him to engage in artistic expression that violates his beliefs,” Mr. Tedesco said, resulting in a trampling of his First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and religion.