Will Christian florists, bakers, photographers, and facility owners be compelled to provide services for same-sex wedding ceremonies?
That is the question that the Supreme Court will answer next term as they decided to hear Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission after the Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
In 2012, Jake Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, said he politely refused to make a wedding cake for Charles Craig and David Mullins, who had planned to “marry” in Massachusetts but then have a reception in their home state of Colorado.
The state’s Court of Appeals affirmed a Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision from May 2014. That decision ordered Phillips and his employees to create cakes that celebrate same-sex ceremonies and required Phillips to comply with Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act by re-educating his staff (which includes members of his own family) and filing quarterly “compliance” reports for two years.
In July of 2016, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop asked the high court to take his case and rule that the government cannot coerce him to create artistic expression that communicates a message with which he fundamentally disagrees.
A refusal to provide services for same-sex ceremonies is not discrimination, as many Christians florists, bakers, etc. have LGBT clients. In the case of Jack Phillips, he did not want to promote a message through his cakes. If Christians are compelled to provide services for same-sex wedding ceremonies, then the state is running roughshod over religious conscience.
No federal law requires businesses to serve all customers without regard to their sexual orientation or gender identity. However, twenty-one states have “public accommodations” laws that include one or both phrases.
“Every American should be free to choose which art they will create and which art they won’t create without fear of being unjustly punished by the government,” ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman said. “That’s why the bad decision in this case needs to be reversed. It imperils everyone’s freedom by crushing dissent instead of tolerating a diversity of views. We are all at risk when government is able to punish citizens like Jack just because it doesn’t like how he exercises his artistic freedom. America must have room for people who disagree to coexist.”
“Jack’s ability to make a living and run his family business shouldn’t be threatened simply because he exercised his artistic freedom. Artists speak through their art, and when Jack creates custom wedding cakes, he is promoting and celebrating the couple’s wedding,” ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco added. “Jack will gladly allow anyone to purchase any product he sells, but he simply can’t put his artistic talents to use on a custom cake for an event so at odds with his faith convictions. The ACLU, which is opposing Jack and other artists in Washington and Arizona, would rather use the strong-arm of government to eradicate from the public square people whose views differ from the government’s. We hope the Supreme Court will affirm how illegitimate that is.”
Conservatives weighed in on the importance of this case.
“This landmark case is likely to determine the future of religious freedom in America as we know it. Will it be permissible to run a Christian bakery? Will the rights of free citizens to live out their faith in the public square be respected? Or will Christian schools, charities, businesses, and families be forced to acquiesce to the hyper-sexual LGBT agenda or face government persecution?” Terry Schilling, executive director of American Principles Project, said in a released statement.
“Recently, Christians and other people of faith have been intimidated and bullied into silence by radical progressives in positions of power who seek to promote the new religion of hyper-sexuality above all others. This is, of course, a blatant attack on religious freedom. By ruling in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Supreme Court has a tremendous opportunity to protect the First Amendment and ensure that our founding fathers’ intent when they founded the world’s beacon for religious freedom is ultimately upheld,” he added.
“Now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, this ruling could have a significant impact throughout the country regarding businesses being forced to go against the owner’s sincerely held religious beliefs,” Matt Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel said. “People’s livelihoods should not be put in jeopardy in order to advance the LGBT agenda. Artists speak through their art, and when Jack Phillips creates custom wedding cakes, he is promoting and celebrating the couple’s wedding. He should not be forced to promote a message that conflicts with his religious beliefs,”