Religion

Denver's Masterpiece Cakeshop Turns Down Gay Couple Because of Religious Beliefs

| by Dominic Kelly

A bakery in Colorado came under fire after it was publicized that they refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding. After a lengthy court battle, a judge has ruled that the bakery must serve gay couples, despite the owner’s religious beliefs, or he will face consequences.

Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver, Colorado made headlines after owner Jack Phillips refused to bake a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins. The two were married in Massachusetts but wanted a wedding cake so they could celebrate in Colorado. When they approached Phillips at Masterpiece Cakeshop in July of 2012, he turned them away as soon as he realized they were a gay couple.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the complaint against Phillips on behalf of Craig and Mullins, and after making its way to court, Administrative Law Judge Robert N. Spencer decided that the owner discriminated against the couple and must serve gay couples going forward. If he still refuses, Phillips will face fines.

“The undisputed facts show that Respondents (Phillips) discriminated against Complainants because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage,” said Spencer in his ruling. “At first blush, it may seem reasonable that a private business should be able to refuse service to anyone it chooses. This view, however, fails to take into account the cost to society and the hurt caused to persons who are denied service simply because of who they are.”

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Masterpiece Cakeshop’s attorney Nicolle Martin argues that it is wrong to expect Phillips to go against his beliefs.

“He can’t violate his conscience in order to collect a paycheck,” said Martin. “If Jack can’t make wedding cakes, he can’t continue to support his family. And in order to make wedding cakes, Jack must violate his belief system. That is a reprehensible choice. It is antithetical to everything America stands for.”

Craig and Martin, along with the ACLU, maintain that Phillips is obviously not expected to change his beliefs, but assert that he needs to realize he is discriminating.

“While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one’s religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers,” said ACLU attorney Amanda Goad in a statement. “No one is asking Masterpiece’s owners to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple.”

It is not yet known if Phillips and his attorneys will appeal the judge’s ruling.