Supreme Court Sides With Baker In LGBT Rights Case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory on narrow grounds to a Christian baker from Colorado who refused for religious reasons to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

"I anticipate more discriminatory acts as people hope to push the envelope" with picking and choosing who they want to serve, Moore said before a rally outside the Boulder County Courthouse, an event planned in the hours after the court's controversial ruling in favor of Phillips' case against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Justice Anthony Kennedy in his opinion said the court found that the commission had denied Phillips that right.

According to the opinion, the case hinged on how a Colorado Commission reviewing the case treated Phillips' and his religious beliefs. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented while Breyer and Kagan, considered to be liberal-leaning, joined the more conservative justices in a majority ruling.

The case has been widely seen as a clash between religious liberties and gay rights.

"It's hard to believe that the government punished me for operating my business consistent with my beliefs about marriage". "I think he wanted to say, 'That can not stand'". "We wholeheartedly respect the freedom of religion; however, as was made clear today, it should not be used as a weapon to further marginalize the already marginalized".

The Masterpiece case says that people who are accused of discrimination are entitled to a fair hearing and that gay people are entitled to dignified treatment.

In the court's ruling, Kennedy wrote that the case's central question, whether Phillips had the right to exercise his freedom of religion in the face of a state law the prohibits discrimination, should have been decided in a neutral environment.

After Colorado's Civil Rights Commission said that Phillips could not discriminate by refusing to make cakes for same-sex weddings, he chose to stop baking wedding cases for all customers, which he said took away about 40 percent of his business.

"The government, consistent with the Constitution's guarantee of free exercise, can not impose regulations that are hostile to the religious beliefs of affected citizens and can not act in a manner that passes judgment upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices", Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion in the Colorado baker case.

But Kennedy's opinion also defended states' authority "to protect the rights and dignity of gay persons who are, or wish to be, married but who face discrimination when they seek goods or services".

The court ruled in favor of an appeal by the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Jack Phillips, in a 7-2 vote, striking down a Colorado court's previous ruling that said the couple had been discriminated against based on sexual orientation.

Included among them was the court's 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

In 2012, when David Mullins and Charlie Craig walked into his shop and asked him to bake a cake for a reception to celebrate their wedding, Phillips said, "I'm sorry, guys, I can't do that".

Gay rights groups had feared a ruling against the couple could set a precedent for treating gay marriages differently to heterosexual unions, but the Supreme Court's verdict instead focuses specifically on Mr Phillips' case.

Mullins and Craig said Phillips was using his Christian faith as pretext for unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation.

  • Tracy Klein