Court finds against bakery that refused to make cake for gay couple

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Masterpiece Cake Shop protest

Gay rights supporters protest at Masterpiece Cake Shop.

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — A bakery owner who refused to sell a gay couple a cake for their wedding reception broke discrimination laws, a Colorado judge determined Friday.

Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig attempted to buy the cake in July of 2012. They planned to marry in Massachusetts, then hold a reception with friends and family in Colorado.

But Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips refused to serve them, saying his religious beliefs would not permit him to support a same-sex relationship in any way.

“I am a follower of Jesus Christ. So you could say it’s a religious belief,” Phillips said at the time. “I believe the Bible teaches (gay marriage) is not an OK thing.”

Backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Mullins and Craig continued to press the issue, filing complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

In handing down Friday’s decision, Judge Robert N. Spencer of the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts noted that Phillips had previously made cakes for the “marriage” of two dogs, but made a policy of refusing to serve same-sex couples. By definition, that policy constitutes unlawful discrimination, the judge found.

“Being denied service by Masterpiece Cakeshop was offensive and dehumanizing especially in the midst of arranging what should be a joyful family celebration,” Mullins said. “We are grateful to have the support of our community and our state, and we hope that today’s decision will help ensure that no one else will experience this kind of discrimination again in Colorado.”

While details were not yet clear, the ruling will likely require Masterpiece to change its discriminatory policies.

“While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one’s religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers,” said Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “No one is asking Masterpiece’s owner to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple.”

Phillips’ attorney, Nicolle Martin, has previously said that they would appeal the decision if they lost.

The legal fight served as a flashpoint for the legislature’s debate of a civil unions bill that passed earlier this year without any exemptions for businesses which oppose recognizing the legal rights of gay and lesbian couples based on its religious beliefs.

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65 comments

  • REP

    Well, the judge is violating the Christian’s belief if he ordered the owner to sell the cake. I mean, he is not any more wrong than the owner.

  • John Eight Thirty-Two

    The government has violated that Christian man’s rights. I can feel his pain because I was victimized in much the same way when, in conformance with my religious beliefs, I refused to rent rooms in my hotel to negroes.

    When will it end???

  • sharkdiver

    Well, since religion is nothing more than ancient superstition and fables, and therefore not a good reason to discriminate, the decision makes sense.

  • dutchoven

    Cry babies! Man up and find a cake somewhere else….no, we can get the ACLU involved and hurt a small business….

  • Test

    “The judge didn’t ask the baker to change his religious views…just to make the d@mn cake!”

    No he didn’t. He instructed them to cease discriminating – the couple already had their celebration, hence this cake will never get baked.

    He also instructed them to “take other corrective action as deemed appropriate to the commission” and to file a bunch of reports. That has nothing to do with baking cakes, it’s all about keeping bureaucrats employed. Which is typical of our current legal system. This business is now going to be micromanaged by a government commission for who knows how long.

  • tlohm56

    It’s a private business. If I do not want to sell someone a cake then thats my prerogative. I have no obligation to sell anyone a cake. Once again the government steps over the line. Go by your cake from someone else and quit whining.

  • Georgio

    “The government of the United States is not in ANY sense founded on the Christian Religion” By President John Adams, Treaty of Tripoli 1797

  • quickdraw53

    this is just total BS there is no reason in this world that he should have to make the cake for them. all gays want to do is cause trouble and it will not stop here. they will find other ways to cause trouble which is also BS

  • tlohm56

    As a business owner I can post a sign that says ” We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” I do not have to give reasons. If you think my policies are inappropriate then just take your business elsewhere.

  • Arthur Kaske

    What the judge is ordering is that since we no longer resort to Bill Clinton’s government indifferent policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” we must n.o.w. pacify those who suffer from “heterophobia”, and otherwise, “gender identity disorder”, which are two clinically recognized mental illnesses, by “their” demands.

  • tlohm56

    It is our fault for letting the government get away with this type of behavior. We continue to let them take freedom away a little piece at a time until it’s gone. We will play hell getting it back.

  • destiny

    gays want the same rights as we do? really this is bs! they are bunch of cry babies i own a small bakery i can refuse and will refuse to sell to anyone i dont want to including gays!!!!!!!!

  • Andy

    The “judge” is wrong. A business can refuse service to anyone. This judge presents another reason why our judicial system is failing; right versus wrong, pay and play. To the couple, man-up and acquire your cake somewhere else. Why are your rights more important than a business owner? Why do you imply that we as a society owe you something.

  • Merle Hewitt

    the people should have the right to serve who they want with out a judge getting his nose onto go somewhere else which you did to bad for your luck hopelife gets miserable for you just the way your making it for other people

  • john cook

    It used to be that freedom included the right to associate or not to associate as a citizen chose.

    Those were the good old days

  • Emily

    Religious people sure know how to cherry pick… What if someone, because of their religious beliefs, stoned a woman to death because she was raped by someone other than her husband, or backed out of an arranged marriage? What if a Muslim bakery owner wouldn’t sell products to Christians because they go against their beliefs? The point is, they can believe what they want, but when it discriminates against, or hurts other people, that’s where the line is drawn.

  • George W.

    Judge is forcing him to go against his religious beliefs and therefore violating his first amendment right to freedom of religion.

  • Emily

    Once your “religious right” (which is a ridiculous term in my opinion) discriminates or hurts others, it’s no longer a right, it’s an offense. According to your philosophy, suicide bombers who kill in the name of their god had a “right” to do so.

  • Harold Seaward

    I WAS planning on patronizing this bakery as a sign of support, but I’m sure a line of gays and lesbians will run out the door and around the building, frothing at the mouth, giddy with the prospect of forcing him to make them cakes. Good for business, bad for society.

  • Jeannette Major

    This is why our country has gone down in moral value.
    This is why our county has gone down in spiritual value.
    This is just the beginning of worse things to come.
    God give us strength to endure the coming times.
    From the very top in Washington, they all are pushing their agenda
    down our throats, whether we like it or not. But remember,
    His vengeance not ours….no you can’t can’t discriminate, but you don’t have
    to like them or anyone. You just have to love them! You will be honored for that in the end. And believe me…there will be an end to all of this ugly, selfish, and selfseeking behavior. Just be patient.

  • Slurpie

    In my opinion, the solution is simple. A christian business could have a menu that offers a bible scripture reference on each cake, without substitution.

    Offer the ‘same sex wedding cake collection’, and accept no substitutes. Each cake must have a reference to a bible verse that refers to marriage. If you want a cake without a bible reference, shop elsewhere. A Christian wedding cake business is a niche business focusing on the bible.

    For example a same sex wedding option #1 would simply print in rainbow icing the scripture reference; Romans 1:26-27

    Same sex Wedding cake option #2 might be: Leviticus 20:13

    Likewise, traditional weddings would also just offer a scripture reference such as:

    Traditional cake option #1 : Genesis 2:24

    Traditional option #2 Matthew 19:4-5

    .. and so on..

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