Jack Phillips owns the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., about 10 miles from downtown Denver. In July 2012, two gay men, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, asked Phillips to provide the cake for their wedding celebration. Though same-sex marriage is not allowed in Colorado -- the Colorado Constitution states that "Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state" -- the two men had been married in Massachusetts.
As acknowledged by all parties, Phillips told the men, "I'll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies, I just don't make cakes for same-sex weddings."
Jack Phillips is an evangelical Christian, and his religion does not allow him to participate in same-sex marriages or celebrations of same-sex marriages.
In other words, Phillips made it clear from the outset that he does not discriminate based on the sexual orientation of a prospective customer. He will knowingly sell his products to any gay person who wishes to purchase his baked goods.
Nevertheless, Craig and Mullins went to the ACLU, which then sued Phillips. On Dec. 6, administrative law Judge Robert N. Spencer handed down his decision:
"The undisputed facts show that Respondents [Masterpiece Cakeshop] discriminated against Complainants [Craig and Mullins] because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage, in violation of ? 24-34-601(2), C.R.S."
The section of the C.R.S. (Colorado Revised Statutes) cited by Judge Spencer reads:
"It is a discriminatory practice and unlawful for a person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from, or deny to an individual or a group, because of ... sexual orientation ... the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation."
Thus, under penalty of fines and, potentially, jail:
1. Jack Phillips must participate in an event that the Colorado constitution explicitly prohibits.
2. He must do so against deeply held religious convictions.
3. He must do so despite the fact that there are hundreds of other cake makers in the Denver area.
Those who support this decision argue that religious principles do not apply here: What if, for example, someone's religious principles prohibited interracial marriages? Should that individual be allowed to deny services to an interracial wedding?
Of course not.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”