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Supreme Court Sides With Baker In LGBT Rights Case

06 June 2018

Charlie Craig and David Mullins hold hands as they talk about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that sets aside a Colorado court decision against a baker who would not make a wedding cake for the same-sex couple, Monday, June 4, 2018. "I would have handled it differently, but people should have their rights, especially business owners".

But the court stayed out of the thornier issue of whether people can avoid providing services to same-sex weddings because of religious beliefs.

In those cases, the commission had upheld the bakers' right to refuse their services.

The decision hinged on what justices described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the body which originally ruled against Jack Phillips.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that while Colorado law "can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services. the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion".

But Kennedy also stressed the importance of gay rights while noting that litigation on similar issues is likely to continue in lower courts. The majority begins its analysis by emphasizing that "gay persons and gay couples can not be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth". "If we want to have freedom for ourselves, then we must extend it to those with whom we disagree".

At the state level, there is a bill that would explicitly extend non-discrimination protections to gay people.

The case also is a reminder that the community needs to remain vigilant about its rights, she added. President Donald Trump's administration intervened in the case in support of Phillips.

In this case, he said he offered to make Mullins and Craig other desserts for their wedding, but refused design a wedding cake due to his religious beliefs. During a brief encounter at Phillips' Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, the baker politely but firmly refused, leaving the couple distraught.

The couple made a formal complaint to the Colorado state commission and the commission took on the case.

"The supreme court ruling indicates that the government must not treat Jack Phillips with hostility because of his religious beliefs", said Stephani Liesmaki, a spokesperson for MNFC.

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Despite the outcome, the couple said it doesn't consider the case "a lost cause". The Peace House, an Oklahoma City civil rights group, said Monday's ruling "opens the door" to such discrimination.

"Government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society, yet the state of Colorado was openly antagonistic toward Jack's religious beliefs about marriage".

Kristin Wagner, of the Alliance for Defending Freedom, was on the program with Philips, and said that his freedom was compromised by the commission as it was hostile toward him.

"This is a real victory for Jack who has been fighting the courts for several years and nearly went out of business", Hausknecht said.

In the court's ruling, Kennedy wrote that the case's central question, whether Phillips had the right to exercise his freedom of religion in the face of a state law the prohibits discrimination, should have been decided in a neutral environment. At the time, gay weddings were not legally permitted in Colorado.

The American Civil Liberities Union, which represented Mullins and Craig, said the court "reaffirmed the core principle that businesses open to the public must be open to all" in a statement after the ruling.

"Well, I think it's important that we be clear on this, that Mr. Phillips would not sell us anything for our wedding", Mullins said, "and as far as the example of the Halloween cake goes, you know, any human being could buy a Halloween cake, but only a same-sex couple needs a wedding for a so-called same-sex wedding".

Still, many LGBTQ advocates took issue with the Supreme Court's ruling Monday.

Q: Can a gay couple in OH get a cake from a baker who opposes same-sex marriage?

The closely watched case before the Supreme Court, which in 2015 legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, pitted gay rights against religious liberty.

Supreme Court Sides With Baker In LGBT Rights Case