A bakery owned by a devout Christian, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd, owned by Jack Phillips, was sued by a gay couple that intentionally targeted this business due to the owner’s religious beliefs.
Back in 2012, a gay couple asked Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd to bake them a cake for their gay wedding. Jack Phillips, the baker, advised them that he cannot do that because gay marriage conflicts with his religious beliefs and that he felt that baking the cake is a type of endorsement. Instead, he offered to sell the gay couple any pre-prepared goods from his bakery.
The couple anticipated this answer, as the baker was known for this practice. They sued him, asking the government to force the baker to bake their cake.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission agreed with the gay couple. And they did more than that. They publicly mocked Christianity and the baker. They showed complete lack of impartiality and an unquestionable bias.
Colorado Civil Rights Commission at one point called Christianity “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use.” The Commission simultaneously favored the homosexual beliefs of the gay couple. Phillips was entitled to neutral and respectful consideration, which he did not receive.
Six years after the initial incident, the Supreme Court has finally ruled in favor of the baker and chastised the Commission for their unquestionable bias.
The Supreme Court decision, authored by Justice Kennedy, explains that the baker’s freedom of speech and free exercise of religion are protected by the First Amendment and that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was constitutionally required to consider the case with religious neutrality but failed to do so.
“The Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” Kennedy wrote, as he reversed the judgment of the Colorado Court of Appeals.
“To Phillips, his claim that using his artistic skills to make an expressive statement, a wedding endorsement in his own voice and of his own creation, has a significant First Amendment speech component and implicates his deep and sincere religious beliefs.” But the Colorado Civil Rights Commission did not fairy review Phillips’ position. They were unfair to the Christian, publicly hostile to him and the religion, and biased in favor of the gay couple, Kennedy explained.
Important to take away from this decision is that the court recognized the legal interests of the gay couple and stated that businesses cannot deny selling all goods and services to protected groups.
“… if a baker refused to sell any goods or any cakes for gay weddings, that would be a different matter and the State would have a strong case under this Court’s precedents that this would be a denial of goods and services that went beyond any protected rights of a baker who offers goods and services to the general public and is subject to a neutrally applied and generally applicable public accommodations law.”
Phillips’ case is different, Kennedy wrote, because he was asked to use “his artistic skills to make an expressive statement, a wedding endorsement in his own voice and of his own creation,” which is narrower in scope and specifically invokes the First Amendment.
With the Supreme Court’s decision, both Christians and gays received protection from the Court for their beliefs. This decision was fair and balanced in its analysis, protective of all.
Freedom of speech, freedom of sexuality, and freedom of religion remain protected in America.