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In a 7-2 vote, the court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed “hostility” towards the baker’s religious beliefs.
The US Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for the marriage of a same sex couple, because of religious reasons.
In a 7-2 vote, the court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed “hostility” towards the baker, specifically when they suggested his claims of religious freedom were made to justify discrimination.
PROTECTING FREEDOM OF SPEECH
“The Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s consideration of this case was inconsistent with the State’s obligation of religious neutrality”, Justice Anthony Kennedy ruled for the Supreme Court majority.
According to Kennedy, “the laws and the constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression”.
“These disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market", he stated.
The court did not address the wider principle of whether a business can refuse to serve gay people, saying this “must await further elaboration”.
THE BAKER: TOLERANCE IS A TWO-WAY STREET
In a press conference, Jack Phillips thanked the court for recognizing “the injustice that the government inflicted on me”.
“Tolerance is a two-way street. If we want to have freedom for ourselves, we have to extend it to others with whom we disagree about important issues like the meaning of marriage”, he said.
“HOSTILITY TOWARDS PEOPLE OF FAITH HAS NO PLACE IN OUR SOCIETY”
“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. The court was right to condemn that”, the Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner said in a statement.
“Creative professionals who serve all people should be free to create art consistent with their convictions without the threat of government punishment”, she added.
“WE WILL CONTINUE FIGHTING”
Meanwhile, James Esseks of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the gay couple, pointed out that religious and other objections “do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny equal access to goods and services”.
“The bakery may have won the battle, but it has lost the war”, Esseks told reporters the in a press conference.
David Mullins also spoke to reporters: “I just hope that people can understand that this is not a wide-ranging ruling, and that this doesn’t mean that the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act has been invalidated in any way. We will continue fighting until no one has to endure the shame, embarrassment and humiliation of being told, ‘We don’t serve your kind here.’”
A LONG PROCESS
In 2012, David Mullins and Charlie Craig asked Phillips to bake a cake to celebrate their planned wedding, which would be performed in another state.
Phillips said he couldn't create the product they were looking for without violating his faith.
Mullins and Craig filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which ruled in their favor, citing a state anti-discrimination law.
Phillips then took his case to the Colorado Court of Appeals, which upheld the commission’s ruling. The US Supreme Court, however, granted review of his free speech and free exercise claims and heard oral arguments on December 5.
A SIMILAR CASE IN NORTHERN IRELAND
Last October, Daniel McArthur, a baker form Northern Ireland, lost his appeal against a ruling that their refusal to make a "gay cake" was discriminatory.
He was accused of political and sexual orientation discrimination, after they refused to make a cake with the campaign slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’.