Saturday, April 19, 2014

Judge orders Colo. cake-maker to serve gay couples despite religious beliefs

Ivan Moreno, Associated Press

Published: Sat, Dec. 7 11:28 a.m. MST

 A baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony must serve gay couples despite his religious beliefs or face fines, a judge said Friday.

A baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony must serve gay couples despite his religious beliefs or face fines, a judge said Friday.

(Shutterstock)

DENVER — A baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony must serve gay couples despite his religious beliefs or face fines, a judge said Friday.

The order from administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer said Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver discriminated against a couple "because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage."

The order says the cake-maker must "cease and desist from discriminating" against gay couples. Although the judge did not impose fines in this case, the business will face penalties if it continues to turn away gay couples who want to buy cakes.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against shop owner Jack Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission last year on behalf of Charlie Craig, 33, and David Mullins, 29. The couple was married in Massachusetts and wanted a wedding cake to celebrate in Colorado.

Mullins and Craig wanted to buy a cake in July 2012, but when Phillips found out the cake was to celebrate a gay wedding, he turned the couple of away, according to the complaint.

Nicolle Martin, an attorney for Masterpiece Cakeshop, said the judge's order puts Phillips in an impossible position of going against his Christian faith.

"He can't violate his conscience in order to collect a paycheck," she said. "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."

The Civil Rights Commission is expected to certify the judge's order next week. Phillips can appeal the judge's order, and Martin said they're considering their next steps.

Mullins said he and Craig are "ecstatic."

"To a certain extent, though, I don't think that this is necessarily a surprise," he said. "We thought it was pretty clear cut that he had discriminated against us."

Mullins said he hopes the "decision will help ensure that no one else will experience this kind of discrimination again in Colorado."

A similar is pending in Washington state, where a florist is accused of refusing service for a same-sex wedding. In New Mexico, the state Supreme Court ruled in August that an Albuquerque business was wrong to decline to photograph a same-sex couple's commitment ceremony.

Colorado has a constitutional ban against gay marriage but allows civil unions. The civil union law, which passed earlier this year, does not provide religious protections for businesses.

"At first blush, it may seem reasonable that a private business should be able to refuse service to anyone it chooses," Judge Spencer said in his written order. "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."

ACLU attorney Amanda Goad said no one is asking Phillips to change his religious beliefs.

"But treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination, plain and simple," she said.

Find Ivan Moreno at http://twitter.com/IvanJourno.

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1. PolishBear
Charleston, WV,
Dec. 7, 2013

All the bakeries and florists and caterers and photographers that people are wailing and gnashing their teeth about? They aren't in the business of enforcing moral codes or providing spiritual guidance, they exist to MAKE MONEY. And as such they are obligated to comply with civil rights laws, whether those civil rights law protect people based on race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Perhaps Christians who believe that existing civil rights laws are too burdensome should file suit to have those laws overturned. Who knows, maybe they’ll be successful! Maybe the Supreme Court will determine that civil rights laws interfere with religious freedom and freedom of association. Then we can go back to the days when landlords could refuse to rent to Muslims, and restaurants could turn away Blacks. Christian business owners would be allowed to ask prospective customers which religion or sexual orientation they are, and then pick and choose which customers to serve, and which to turn away.

You could even call it "American Exceptionalism!"

2. DN Subscriber 2
SLC, UT,
Dec. 7, 2013

So the government can now dictate all types of economic activity.

You MUST buy this product- Obamacare- even if you do not want or need it.
You MUST sell cakes to specific people.

Is this a FREE country or what?

3. cjb
Bountiful, UT,
Dec. 7, 2013

The Bible says men should not lie with men. It says nothing about providing goods or services to people who do this.

The Bible also says that women who divorce shall not get remarried. Does this cake maker also refuse marriage cakes to women getting married who have been divorced? If not then he is cherry picking and not really following what his religion requires any way.

4. cjb
Bountiful, UT,
Dec. 7, 2013

Re DN Subscriber

It gets even worse. People in jail and in prison in this country have even less freedoms.

5. future president
Logan, Utah,
Dec. 7, 2013

I used to feel for the LGBT Community. But not anymore, we are talking about a group of people who pride themselves going around suing people. That's what they do and what they are about, if they don't get their they will sue. No wonder the majority of Americans are against them. Stop trying to tear down American small businesses.

They love attention, "Look at me Look at me!!" They will sue anybody and everybody who gets in their way. How can anybody have compassion for people like this?