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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 21, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 34
Baker can't refuse to make cakes for same-sex couples, Colorado appeals court says
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Baker can't refuse to make cakes for same-sex couples, Colorado appeals court says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that a bakery owner cannot refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

Their decision upholds a previous ruling from the state's Civil Rights Commission that Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips violated Colorado's public accommodations law by turning away customers based on their sexual orientation.

The case began in 2012, when David Mullins and Charlie Craig went to Phillips' Masterpiece Cakeshop with Craig's mother to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. Phillips informed them that because of his religious beliefs, he didn't sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples.

The national ACLU and the ACLU of Colorado filed suit on behalf of Mullins and Craig in 2013. In December 2013, an administrative judge ruled that the bakery had illegally discriminated against the couple. In May 2014, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission affirmed that ruling.

Phillips appealed the commission's decision on the grounds that he had a First Amendment right to refuse to endorse same-sex marriage. He was not discriminating against Gay people, he said, he was just against letting them marry.

'I clearly told them that I would make them birthday cakes, shower cakes, cookies and brownies,' he said. 'I just don't do cakes for same sex weddings.'

The court rejected his argument out of hand, however. Gay people, the judges said, are the only ones likely to engage in same-sex marriage.

'Masterpiece's distinction, therefore, is one without a difference,' the court decision states. '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.'

The attorney who represented Mullins and Craig said in a statement that, 'today is a proud day for equality and for upholding the law. In America, no one should be turned away from a shop or restaurant because of who they are or who they love.'

'When every lesbian or gay person, every woman, every person of color, every person of every faith can walk into a store, a bank, a hospital, and know that they will get the same service as everyone else, we will have won,' said Ria Mar, staff attorney for the ACLU's LGBT Project. 'Until then, we continue to fight for the equal treatment we all deserve. Today we can celebrate this big win.'

Masterpiece was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, who have vowed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. In April 2014 the Supreme Court rejected a similar appeal from a New Mexico wedding photographer who refused to serve same-sex couples.

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