[guest post by Dana]
Unsurprisingly, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that would make Jack Phillips, Christian baker and owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, violate his religious beliefs by compelling him to provide wedding cakes for gay couples.
From the opinion:
This case juxtaposes the rights of complainants, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, under Colorado’s public accommodations law to obtain a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex marriage against the rights of respondents, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Inc., and its owner, Jack C. Phillips, who contend that requiring them to provide such a wedding cake violates their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.
As we’ve already seen, the rights of Christian vendors are becoming subordinate to the rights of gay couples to purchase wedding cakes or other standard wedding fare from any vendor they choose, regardless of the business owner’s religious beliefs.
Mr. Phillips said that creating a wedding cake for a gay couple would force him to convey a message with which he disagrees, but the court said in its opinion that the bakery is a public accommodation and thus forbidden by Colorado law from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
As a result, “a reasonable observer would understand that Masterpiece’s compliance with the law is not a reflection of its own beliefs,” said the court.
“We conclude that the act of designing and selling a wedding cake to all customers free of discrimination does not convey a celebratory message about same-sex weddings likely to be understood by those who view it,” said Judge Daniel M. Taubman in the 64-page opinion.
“We further conclude that, to the extent that the public infers from a Masterpiece wedding cake a message celebrating same-sex marriage, that message is more likely to be attributed to the customer than to Masterpiece,” said the opinion.
Phillips, like other Christian wedding vendors, believes that there is a difference between serving gays (which he does) and providing a service specifically for a same-sex wedding ceremony.
However, the court did not see it that way:
[T]he court said that the bakery’s distinction between serving gay customers and baking a gay wedding cake is “one without a difference.”
“But for their sexual orientation, Craig and Mullins would not have sought to enter into a same-sex marriage, and but for their intent to do so, Masterpiece would not have denied them its services,” said the opinion.
From Phillips’ team:
“Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live and work consistent with their faith. Government has a duty to protect people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally rather than force them to adopt the government’s views,” said ADF senior legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco in a statement. “Jack simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to promote a message with which he disagrees. The court is wrong to deny Jack his fundamental freedoms. We will discuss further legal options.”
As it now stands, if Phillips refuses to provide a cake for a gay wedding, he will face fines. Also, he was ordered to “take remedial measures, including comprehensive staff training and alteration to the company’s policies” as well as being required to submit to monthly compliance checks.