Supreme Court Sides With Baker Who Turned Away Gay Couple

A wedding cake with a gay couple is seen in this file

A wedding cake with a gay couple is seen in this file

Its staff demonstrated a "clear and impermissible hostility toward the honest religious" and did not make efforts to accommodate the religious freedom of the business owners.

The case pitted Phillips' First Amendment claims of artistic freedom against the anti-discrimination arguments of the Colorado commission, and the two men Phillips turned away in 2012.

But they did not definitively rule on the issue of whether a business can decline to serve gays and lesbians based on religious views, meaning the broader contentious issue is likely to simmer.

Kennedy wrote that the question of when religious beliefs must give way to anti-discrimination laws might be different in future cases.

Phillips was sanctioned by the state civil rights commission after a formal complaint from the couple.

Rather, the court found that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had acted improperly when it said that the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver could not refuse to make a same-sex wedding cake because the body "showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the honest religious beliefs motivating his objection", and therefore did not act with "the requisite religious neutrality". Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Samuel Alito co-wrote their concurring opinions. In their decision posted on Monday, the justices ruled the Colorado Civil Rights Commission didn't maintain religious neutrality when it ruled against Phillips.




President Donald Trump's administration intervened in support of the baker.

In the wake of the marriage ruling, conservative religious-rights advocates led by the Alliance Defending Freedom sought to establish a right to refuse to help celebrate a same-sex marriage. "There is much in the court's opinion with which I agree", Ginsburg wrote of Kennedy's repeated references to protecting the rights of gay people.

For the baker's supporters, the case was about finding a way to respect conflicting beliefs about marriage. At the time, Colorado did not recognize the validity of gay marriages, however, and the U.S. Supreme Court had not yet found a constitutional right for gays to marry.

"Phillips would not sell to Craig and Mullins, for no reason other than their sexual orientation, a cake of the kind he regularly sold to others", Ginsburg said. "The proceedings involved several layers of independent decision-making, of which the commission was but one". The Arizona-based group brought suits on a behalf of a wedding photographer in New Mexico, a florist in Washington state and the Colorado baker whose case reached the Supreme Court.

Read the court's complete opinion at supremecourt.gov, with the majority opinion written by Kennedy. "It's hard to see the decision setting a precedent".

"There is an intentional campaign out there of people who are opposed to LGBT rights but also to equality more broadly", he said.

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