Court: Baker can't refuse same-sex wedding cakes

Posted at 10:38 AM, Apr 25, 2016

The Colorado Supreme Court will not hear the case of a cake shop owner who refused to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

That means the appellate court ruling that Masterpiece Cakeshop violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination law and must change its policy stands.

"We are positively thrilled at the Colorado  Supreme Court’s decision not to hear this case," said David Mullins, who was denied service at the bakery for a same-sex wedding cake. "It sends a message that the tide of society is moving in the direction of acceptance of LGBT rights, and this is one small brick in that wall."

Back in 2012, a same-sex couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, went to Masterpiece Cakeshop on South Wadsworth Boulevard, with Craig’s mother, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception.

However, owner Jack Phillips told them, because of his religious beliefs, he didn’t sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples.

The couple filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Commission.

In May 2015, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled Phillips cannot refuse to prepare wedding cakes for gay couples, saying the refusal violated the state's public accommodation law that requires businesses to serve customers regardless of their sexual orientation.

In August 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed that decision saying, “Masterpiece remains free to continue espousing its religious beliefs, including its opposition to same-sex marriage. However, if it wishes to operate as a public accommodation and conduct its business within the State of Colorado, CADA (the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act) prohibits it from picking and choosing its customers based on their sexual orientation."

"The highest court in Colorado today affirmed that no one should be turned away from a public-facing business because of who they are or who they love. We all have a right to our personal beliefs, but we do not have a right to impose those beliefs on others and discriminate against them," said Ria Tabacco Mar, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project, who argued the case. "We hope today’s win will serve as a lesson for others that equality and fairness should be our guiding principles and that discrimination has no place at the table, or the bakery as the case may be."

On the other side, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco said, "We asked the Colorado Supreme Court to take this case to ensure that government understands that its duty is to protect the people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally, not force them to violate those beliefs as the price of earning a living. Jack, who has happily served people of all backgrounds for years, simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to promote a message and event with which he disagrees, and that freedom shouldn’t be placed in jeopardy for anyone. We are evaluating all legal options to preserve this freedom for Jack.”

Phillips told Denver7 Reporter Jaclyn Allen he was disappointed in the Colorado Supreme Court's decision not to hear his appeal, saying his religious freedom and free speech rights are being violated.

"If you think this just affects me, it doesn’t. It affects everybody in the United States," said Phillips. "They take away this [right], they can take away all of them. They take it away from me, they can take it away from anybody. A government that would do that is a fearsome thing."



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