Case of bakery shop owner refusing to do business with gay couple ends up in court

DENVER — It’s shaping up to be a battle between religious rights and civil rights.

The owner of a Lakewood bakery accused of discriminating against gays appeared in civil court Wednesday.

A judge will decide if Jack Phillips violated discrimination laws—by refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple last summer.

Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig couldn’t believe it when Phillips refused them service.

They got angry. And they didn’t let it go.

Now, they’re hoping to force Phillips to change what they say is a discriminatory policy.

It was the happiest day of their lives.

Mullins and Craig tie the know in Massachusetts last September.

Now, they hope a judge provides what might be the second happiest day.

“Being discriminated against is a form of personal invalidation. It’s being degraded and put on a lower level than other people in society,” says  Mullins about how humiliated he and Craig felt on July 19, 2012, when Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop told them his business doesn’t make cakes for gay weddings. He says Colorado doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages. And also that they’re (gay relationships) against his religious beliefs.

“I am a follower of Jesus Christ. So you could say it’s a religious belief. I believe the Bible teaches it’s not an OK thing,” is what Phillips told us last July.

The American Civil Liberties Union says it’s illegal for a private retail business open to the public to exclude customers–only private religious groups, like churches, have this right.

“It happened with race discrimination back in the day. It happened with sex discrimination. Over and over the courts say, ‘No, your religious beliefs, while important, do not trump discrimination laws,” says ACLU attorney Amanda Goad, who flew in from NYC to represent the couple.

But Phillips’ lawyer says creating cakes for gays not only violates his freedom of religion, but his freedom of speech.

“Everyone can agree weddings carry a certain message: spiritual, cultural, symbolic … and because it carries a message, under the First Amendment he (Phillips) has the right to say it or not say it,” says attorney Nicolle Martin.

She says by creating the cake, Phillips is the mouthpiece of a message he doesn’t believe in.

And Martin says the First Amendment trumps any sort of public accommodation statutes.

But it’s up to a judge now. Both feel the law is on their side.

“In his church and in his heart, he can hold whatever beliefs he wants. But a cake shop is governed by civil laws and not religious laws,” says Mullins.

While Martin uses an analogy to make her point. “The government can’t force us to drive around with license plates we object to,” she says.

If Phillips loses, he’ll have to change his current policy of not serving gays. He’ll have to post a notice in his story saying he serves everyone equally. And he’ll have to tell the state he’s taken care of this issue.

But Martin says they would appeal.

A decision is expected by the end of this week or early next week.

19 comments

  • quickdraw53

    this is total BS. these people have a right to serve or not sreve anyone they like. just because they refuse to accept gays does not make them bad and they do have a right to live their faith any way they seem fit. the gays have gotten out of control and people are starting to turn on them. gays are the real haters,intolence and all the phobias. most people left the gays alone till they decided to go after any faiths that do not agree with them. as long as the gays continue their attacks they will make it even worse for them

  • Harold Seaward

    While Martin uses an analogy to make her point. “The government can’t force us to drive around with license plates we object to,”

    …but they can force us to BUY health insurance.

    So if I wanted Jack to make me a cake that said, ” Jack Phillips is a pedophile”, he would be forced to make it? Or I could sue him?

    Interesting.

  • boulder native

    And look at how many Catholic priests you touch little boys. And you all think the church don’t like gays. I don’t see them outsting these perverted priests.

  • JJ

    I agree with quickdraw. This is not about equal rights anymore.
    The GAL agenda has been moving in the direction of ‘give us special rights’.

    Very much the same approach as our nation’s government – “we know better than you, what is better for you.”
    and
    “Like it or not, were gonna cram it down your throat.”

    Another example of eroding the rights and principles upon which this country was founded on…

  • clownrodeo

    Stop telling people what they HAVE to do. Thats the whole problem, I don’t care who you sleep with but it shouldn’t effect me in any way period!

  • Mike Johnson

    Stupid, simply put, they do not have to get a cake from this guy, they can go to King Soopers an get one. Leave the guy alone, he has his rights too…I would hope the court sees this as a waste of time for the court, system and let these clowns go back to where they got married and have their cake there….enough is enough..

  • South-Wood

    Jack – Take heart in knowing that as you suffer like Jesus did in righteousness, you too will share in His glory.

  • Test

    9News and the Coloradoan will only take comments from FaceBook abusers – how’s that for an abuse of civil rights?

  • David

    The better solution is to publicly out this bakery owner as being anti-gay. Use Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, etc., and let everyone know that he doesn’t want to treat all members of society equally. The last thing a gay couple should want to do is financially support a religious hate-monger. So, no, you don’t want to force this religious fanatic to make you a wedding cake.

    To JJ above: When exactly did “being treated the same as everyone else” turn into “gays want special rights”?

    For the record, being religious is a CHOICE. Do religious people actually get that? Unlike your sexual orientation, religion is not an innate characteristic. That CHOICE does not give you “special rights” to ostracize a segment of the population. (They tried that 50 years ago, using religious beliefs to justify bans on interracial marriage.) This owner doesn’t want to live in a secular society? Fine. Then go work for a church or religious school. You do not have the right to force your chosen religious beliefs on people that aren’t members of your particular church. End of story.

  • sharkdiver

    Religion is nothing more than institutionalized superstition that makes false promises based upon fairy tales.

  • Ed Flaymer

    I would go ahead and make them their cake, plus add a little secret surprise in their frosting.

    Oops, how did that get in there?

  • Ana C

    He has the right to refuse service to anybody, religious views or not. I am sure there other bakery’s that will take their money.

  • Wigger Pickle

    Genesis 19
    24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven; 25 and he overthrew those cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Comments are closed.