Summary: The Supreme Court is weighing in on a case between a same-sex couple and a baker who refused to make a cake for their wedding.
The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday from both sides in the Colorado same-sex wedding cake case that has been closely watched by the LGBTQ community and religious conservatives.
CNN reported that the arguments from both sides were “lively” and that the liberal judges questioned where the line could be drawn if it were to side with the baker.
In 2012, gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig walked into Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado and asked its owner Jack Phillips if he could make them a cake. Same-sex marriage was not yet legal around the country, but they wanted a cake made in Colorado which they planned to take to another state where their wedding would be performed.
Phillips refused to make them the wedding cake because he said it was against his Christian beliefs. He said that in addition to not making these types of cakes he also does not make baked goods to celebrate Halloween.
“The Bible says, ‘In the beginning there was male and female,'” Phillips said.
Phillips offered to make them any other pastry, but the couple reportedly stormed out. They later filed a discrimination complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which ruled in their favor. Phillips then filed an appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals, explaining that making a wedding cake for a same-sex couple violated his constitutional right to freedom of speech and religion. The Colorado court said that the state’s anti-discrimination laws did not require him to endorse any particular view and that he was not allowed to discriminate customers on account of their sexual orientation.
That’s when Phillips took his case to the Supreme Court, which has four conservative justices, four liberal justices, and one moderate.
The justices in this case have been mulling it for weeks. According to CNN, the liberal judges have asked where a line could be drawn when it came to denying same-sex people services, and moderate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy appeared torn. On one hand, he noted that discrimination was an affront to same-sex couples’ dignity, but he also said that Colorado’s civil rights department had not been respectful of the baker’s religious beliefs.
“Tolerance is essential in a free society,” Justice Kennedy said. “It seems to me that the state in its position here has neither been tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’s religious beliefs.”
Kennedy also asked aloud if Phillips were to win this case if it would be acceptable for him to post a sign that he does not bake cakes for same-sex weddings. The ACLU, which represents the couple, said that a sign like that would lead to open discrimination and that if the Supreme Court rules in the baker’s favor others in different industries could do the same.
Those in support of Phillips argue that his right to freedom of expression should not be violated by the government.
“Artists shouldn’t be forced to express what the government dictates. The commission ordered Jack to celebrate what his faith prohibits or to stop doing the work he loves. The Supreme Court has never compelled artistic expression, and doing so here would lead to less civility, diversity, and freedom for everyone, no matter their views on marriage,” Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom who is representing Phillips said in an email The Denver Channel.
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