Will Supreme Court Let Us Have Our Cake?

An LGBTQ activist waves a rainbow flag on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. Ted Eytan via Flickr

The commission ruled that Phillips violated the state's anti-discrimination law when he refused to make a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins.

(While same-sex marriage had been legally recognized in MA since May 2004, it wasn't until 2014 that Colorado legalized same-sex unions.) However, when Phillips learned the two men wanted him to create a cake to celebrate a same-sex union, he refused, citing his religious belief that marriage should exist only between a man and a woman.

While the Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the case Tuesday, it could be months before they weigh in with a verdict.

While the court's liberal justices said the "cake artist" likely can not refuse to serve gay couples, and conservative justices said his religious and free speech rights should be respected, Justice Anthony Kennedy once again was the man in the middle.

He wondered if Phillips prevailed "could the baker put a sign in his window, we do not bake cakes for gay weddings?" But he also accused Colorado officials of exhibiting a "hostility to religion".

The case pits the religious freedom cases of Jack Phillips, who possesses Masterpiece Cakeshop, against the couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, who say Phillips' activities add up to segregation.

People gather outside the US Supreme Court before Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is heard on December 5, 2017 in Washington, DC.

But later in the argument Kennedy said Colorado's human rights commission seemed "neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips' religious beliefs" when it found his refusal to bake a cake for the gay couple violated the state's anti-discrimination law.

Phillips, 61, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, is fighting for the rights of "creative artists" to choose what they will sell.

Mullins and Craig told AFP in an interview this week that they were emotionally devastated after Phillips turned them down in a brief meeting at the bakery.




Inside the packed courtroom, the liberal justices peppered Kristen Waggoner, Phillips' lawyer, and Francisco with questions about how to draw a line to accommodate Phillips without eviscerating laws that require businesses that are open to the public to serve all customers. "The hair stylist?. The makeup artist?"

More generally, Justice Stephen Breyer said, "What is the line?" "Through legislation or through the courts, this disgraceful decision by the Texas Supreme Court must be overturned".

Chief Justice John Roberts said Catholic Legal Services could be forced to provide free representation to a same-sex couple in a marital dispute.

Waggoner argued that a person viewing one of Phillips' custom wedding cakes - his "artistic expression" - would "understand that it celebrates and expresses support for the couple's marriage".

More than 20 states have similar laws. But the Supreme Court, bolstered in April by the addition of stalwart conservative and fellow Coloradan Neil Gorsuch, could be a different story. Kennedy asked the baker's attorney.

"We got your back Jack", read signs backing the baker.

Edie Windsor's attorney in the historic gay marriage case United States v.

"It means that there's basically an ability to boycott gay marriages", said the author of the 2015 opinion extending same-sex marriage nationwide.

LGBT rights advocates expect that if the Supreme Court at last favors Phillips, it will lessen its point of interest assessment from two years prior that made room for same-sex marriage across the country.

"It must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, honest conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned", Kennedy wrote in 2015.

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