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Supreme Court Sides with Baker Who Refused to Make Cake for Same-Sex Wedding
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Jack Phillips. Photo courtesy of The New Guards.

Summary: In a narrow ruling, the Supreme Court said that Masterpiece Cake in Denver was allowed to not make a personalized wedding cake for a same-sex couple. 

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced their decision that Masterpiece Cake in Denver, Colorado could not be forced to make a special cake for a same-sex wedding. The high court made sure to note that this decision was narrow and did not apply to the broader topic of honoring same-sex marriage vs. preserving religious freedom.


The case stemmed from an incident in 2012. David Mullins and Charlie Craig entered Masterpiece Cakes in Denver to order a special cake for their upcoming wedding. The owner Jack Phillips offered to sell them a generic cake, but after learning it was a same-sex union, he told them that he could not create a personalized pastry for them. Angered, the couple reported Phillips to Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission.

The state of Colorado and the Civil Rights Commission ruled in favor of the couple, stating that Phillips did not have the right to discriminate against gay people; and Phillips appealed the case. Until the Supreme Court made its ruling, he had refused to sell any wedding cakes in the meantime, and he said this cost him almost 40% of his business.

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Phillips’ bakery. In a narrow opinion based only on the facts of this particular case, they said that Phillips did not have to make a cake for Mullins and Craig. The Supreme Court said in this instance Colorado had been hostile to Phillips’ religious views and had not given him a fair hearing.

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“These disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

Phillips said that his bakery was run based on his religious views. For instance, he refused to celebrate Halloween and closed on Sunday.

“Government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society, yet the state of Colorado was openly antagonistic toward Jack’s religious beliefs about marriage. The court was right to condemn that,” Phillips’ attorney Kristen Waggoner, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, told NBC News. 

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was allowed in every state, and since then, there have been numerous couples who have tried to order wedding services but have been denied by businesses who said that providing goods or services to a same-sex wedding violated their religious beliefs. This case will not set precedent for other businesses that were sued by LGBTQ couples, and many cases are still pending nationwide in lower courts.

The ACLU represented Mullins and Craig, and they stated on Monday that the Supreme Court did not rule in favor of discrimination but had only ruled on these particular circumstances.

“The Supreme Court today reaffirmed the core principle that businesses open to the public must be open to all. … The court did not accept arguments that would have turned back the clock on equality by making our basic civil rights protections unenforceable, but reversed this case based on concerns specific to the facts here,” the ACLU stated.

Liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented on this case, and Kennedy had written the opinion of the majority.

What do you think of the outcome of this case? Let us know in the comments below.


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