National

Case of gay couple's wedding cake heads to Supreme Court

Case of gay couple's wedding cake heads to Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide a major case on whether business owners can refuse to service gay couples if they oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds involving a Christian baker in Colorado who declined to make a wedding cake for two men. The justices said Monday, June 26, 2017, they will consider whether a baker who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds can refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Phillips' argument that the First Amendment protected his right to deny the gay couple the cake "easily can open the floodgates of religiously motivated discrimination", Pizer wrote. "While the right to one's religious beliefs is fundamental, a license to discriminate is not".

The Colorado Supreme Court subsequently refused to hear the case, prompting Phillips to appeals to the US Supreme Court.

In 2012, Phillips said he politely declined to make a wedding cake for Charles Craig and David Mullins, who had planned to "marry" in MA but then have a reception in their home state of Colorado. Washington's state supreme court ruled unanimously in February that a florist violated state law by refusing to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding. The nation's highest court did not provide a reason for its decision, but has also opted not to intervene in other recent interstate disputes, including a 2016 lawsuit filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado's legal marijuana laws.

Representing the couple is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

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"It solidified the right of our community to have a right to public accommodations, so future couples are not turned away from a business because of who they are", Mullins said Monday. That decision ordered Phillips and his employees to create cakes that celebrate same-sex ceremonies and required him 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.

The same legal logic applies in Texas, said Neel Lane, a San Antonio lawyer who challenged Texas' ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional. "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", said David Cortman, the group's senior counsel.

Mullins and Craig filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which charged Phillips with violating the state's anti-discrimination law.

"Same-sex couples like David and Charlie deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else, and we're ready to take that fight all the way to the Supreme Court".

The nine-member Texas court does not discuss the timing of its cases or opinions, but to meet its self-imposed deadline, any opinions in the marriage benefits case are probably finished or almost so.


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