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With US Supreme Court's decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop looming, a look at possible outcomes

Posted at 11:59 AM, May 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-29 00:36:05-04

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DENVER -- The United States Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling by the end of the month concerning the case involving the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood. 

The high court has been tasked to determine if the bakery’s owner discriminated against a gay couple when he refused to make them a wedding a cake in 2012.

"He was soft-spoken. He told us he wasn't going to make the cake for religious reasons,” said Charlie Craig, who went to the shop with his husband, Dave Mullins.   

On Dec. 5, the anniversary of Dave and Charlie's first date, their long legal battle reached the U.S. Supreme Court. The couple hopes justices on the nation's highest court will uphold previous rulings in their favor, which said businesses can't discriminate on religious grounds.

The couple knows the court's ruling – for or against them – will impact the lives of people across the country.

"If we lose at the Supreme Court, it could open the door to a variety of forms of discrimination that have long been considered wrong," said Mullins.       

"The Supreme Court is something you read about in history books, in civics classes in high school. It's not a place you ever expect to find yourself sitting before, while a case that you're party to is being litigated," said Mullins. "The moral of this story is that this case is not about cakes, and it's not about weddings either. This case is about basic access to public life."

On the other side of the debate is baker Jack Phillips, who feels his religious beliefs are being ignored.

“The United States Supreme Court has decided the case is worth their time," said Phillips. "The government is supposed to be protecting our rights, not threatening our rights," he said.

Phillips isn't fighting this case on his own, either.

Lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative group, have led the legal efforts.

"Anytime you're forcing an artist to create something that conflicts with what they hold dear, that's a big deal,” said attorney Jim Campbell.

Phillips’s lawyers said this not a case about refusing service, noting that Phillips would sell the couple anything in the shop, but that a custom order drew the line in the sand.

"The First Amendment protects the rights of all artists and creative professionals to live and work – consistent with their beliefs. So at the end of the day, that's what this case boils down to," Campbell said.

So what's next?  The Supreme Court has to answer key questions: Did Phillips break Colorado's anti-discrimination law by refusing to bake a cake for Dave and Charlie?  And did he have a valid religious objection?

The reality check is this: The court may not make a big picture, clear cut ruling as it tries to strike a balance religious right, free speech and personal liberties.